Several studies have confirmed that eating late at night promotes weight gain and increases the risk of obesity. Beyond having heavy digestion during the night, the consequences can be much more important for health, as revealed by a study published on October 2022, in the journal Cell Metabolism.
Doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston conducted an experiment on 16 volunteers divided into two groups, each with different protocols. The first group had to follow strict meal schedules during the day and the second group was presented with the same meal but four hours later, with the last meal taken six hours before sleep for the first group and two hours before sleep for the second.
The doctors analyzed different parameters during the experiment such as body temperature, appetite, blood and energy consumption. The results show that eating later strongly influences appetite and the way the body burns calories and stores fat, thus promoting weight gain.
Evening meals also have a direct impact on the two hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin. During the experiment, the group that ate later in the evening saw their leptin levels drop much more quickly, encouraging the desire to snack, another factor in weight gain. According to an article published in The Conversation and related to this study, it is recalled that the circadian rhythm could explain why eating late promotes weight gain.
The human body has a natural circadian rhythm, corresponding to the biological processes at work during about twenty-four hours, controlled by the brain to influence the normal flow and reflux of hormones and it has been established that this rhythm is particularly sensitive to daylight and food intake. Finally, the study shows that people who eat dinner later tend to burn fat much more slowly, thus increasing the amount of fat stored and leading to weight gain.