A Surprising Habit that Blocks Weight Loss

A Surprising Habit that Blocks Weight Loss

Previous research has highlighted the detrimental effects of late-night eating on obesity risk and weight management efforts. It’s been well-documented that eating late at night increases the likelihood of gaining body fat and makes it harder to lose weight. Now, a groundbreaking study conducted by investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital aims to uncover the underlying reasons behind these findings. Let’s delve into their research to understand why late-night eating poses such a significant obstacle to achieving weight loss goals.

Study Design: Early vs. Late Meal Timing

In this groundbreaking study, researchers examined the impact of meal timing on weight management in individuals with obesity. A cohort of 16 participants completed two distinct protocols to evaluate the effects of meal timing. The first protocol adhered to a strict early eating schedule, while the second protocol involved consuming the exact same meals but with a delay of four hours. This comparative approach allowed researchers to directly assess the consequences of eating early versus eating late on various metabolic parameters and weight-related outcomes.

Here’s what happened:

⬇️ Leptin levels dropped in the late eating condition. That’s the hormone that makes people feel full, so those who ate late felt hungrier.  

⬇️ Calories were burned at a slower rate during the late eating compared with early eating. 

⬆️ Expression of genes in fat tissue shifted toward promoting fat storage during the late eating. 

The Takeaway: Timing Matters

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the timing of our meals plays a crucial role in maintaining metabolic health. It’s not merely about the types of foods we eat, but also when we choose to consume them. Late-night snacking disrupts our body’s natural rhythms, leading to adverse metabolic consequences and hindering weight loss efforts.

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Nina Vujović et al. Late isocaloric eating increases hunger, decreases energy expenditure, and modifies metabolic pathways in adults with overweight and obesity. Cell Metabolism, 2022. [link]

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