We’ve been often told to eat a heavy breakfast and never skip it. The time of the day when we eat food determines how many calories will be burnt by the body.
The later we eat dinner, the lesser our body burns fat. That’s why snacking at night is a really bad idea.
According to a study from Vanderbilt University in the US, fasting daily between your evening meal and breakfast can optimise weight management. The researchers, said the balance between weight loss and gain is predominantly determined by diet, the quantity of food consumed, and the amount of exercise you do.
The time of the day when most food is eaten also determines how well you can burn dietary calories.
The study, which is published in the journal PLOS Biology, says that the human body’s biological clock and sleeping patterns regulate how food is metabolised. The choice of burning fats or carbohydrates also changes and depends on the time of day or night.
The scientists said the circadian rhythm, or the body clock, is programmed to assist the body burn fat when you sleep. And when you skip breakfast and snack at night, it delays the burning of your body fat.
The researchers monitored the metabolism of adults in a whole-room respiratory chamber over two separate 56-hour sessions. In each session, they said, lunch and dinner were presented at the same times but the timing of the third meal differed between the two halves of the study.
In one of the 56-hour sessions, the additional daily meal was presented as breakfast whereas, in the other session, a nutritionally equivalent meal was presented to the same subjects as a late-evening snack. However, the duration of the overnight fast was the same for both sessions.
While the two sessions did not differ in the amount or type of food eaten, or in the subjects’ activity levels, the daily timing of nutrient availability, coupled with sleep control of metabolism, flipped a switch in the subjects’ fat/carbohydrate preference, the study noted. The late-evening snack session resulted in less fat burned when compared to the breakfast session.
Based on these observations, the scientists said the timing of meals during the day/night cycle may affect the extent to which ingested food is used versus stored. According to the researchers, this study has important implications for eating habits, suggesting that a daily fast between the evening meal and breakfast may optimise weight management.