A late dinner can increase a person’s weight and blood sugar because the body has less time to break down and process the food it consumes before going to bed. Researchers found that, on average, people who ate at 10 p.m. burned 10% less fat overnight than those who ate at 6 p.m., although the effect of later consumption varied widely from person to person. to the other. Meanwhile, the last diners saw their glucose levels rise 18% overnight compared to previous consumers.

Not one size fits all

The most interesting part of the study is that the researchers found that not everyone reacts to late meals the same way. “What surprised me most was that not everyone was vulnerable in the same way,” said Researcher. “There was a group, you know if you looked at the activity pattern in the past 2 weeks, people who used to sleep earlier did the worst when we gave them a late meal.” According to them, people who are night eats that ate until 2 or 3 in the morning did not seem to be affected by the change in their meal. “It’s not a one size fits all; there are differences in the metabolism of people that make them more vulnerable to late meals or that don’t bother them.”
“We know from our sleep loss studies that when you’re sleep deprived, it negatively affects weight and metabolism in part due to late-night eating, but now these early findings, which control for sleep, give a more comprehensive picture of the benefits of eating earlier in the day,” said Namni Goel, PhD, a research associate professor of psychology in Psychiatry in the division of Sleep and Chronobiology, and lead author of the ongoing study. “Eating later can promote a negative profile of weight, energy, and hormone markers — such as higher glucose and insulin, which are implicated in diabetes, and cholesterol and triglycerides, which are linked with cardiovascular problems and other health conditions.”

By performing a 24-hour hormone profile, they also found that under daytime dietary conditions, the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, peaked earlier in the day, while leptin, which fills you up, peaked later, suggesting that participants received signals to eat earlier and eat earlier likely helped them stay full longer. This suggests that eating earlier can help avoid overeating in the evening and at night. As the sleep-wake cycles were constant, the melatonin levels remained constant in both groups. “Although lifestyle change is never easy, these results suggest that eating earlier in the day may be worth helping to prevent these chronic harmful health effects,” said Kelly Allison, PhD, professor Associate of Psychology in Psychiatry and Director of the Center. for Weight and Eating Disorders, and lead author of the study. “We have a deep understanding of how overeating affects health and body weight, but we now understand better how our bodies process food at different times of the day over a long period of time.”

Researchers found that not everyone reacts the same way, and people who were accustomed to earlier bedtimes had the most weight gain from a late dinner. Night owls were the least affected by a change in mealtime. According to researchers, this is strong evidence that eating a late meal causes weight gain even if you don’t increase the calories consumed. Experts say, when working long days it’s a good idea to eat a healthy snack in the afternoon to curb your appetite for a late dinner.



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