Since losing weight takes willpower, foresight and planning, it can be challenging at times. You have to reduce the calories you consume and take time to exercise more, so that you burn more calories than you consume. Unfortunately, according to researchers at Northwestern University, having a a successful weight loss program might be a little more complicated than merely counting the calories you take in and subtracting the calories you burn. The time of day you take in the calories may be just as important.
The study, which was performed on laboratory mice at Northwestern University, was designed to discover whether the body’s natural circadian rhythm and the timing of food intake played a role in energy expenditure. The circadian rhythm is our body’s internal clock, which is linked to the light-dark cycle and influences when we sleep and eat. The researchers found that the time of day mice eat influences their energy use and weight gain.
The researchers fed some mice a high-fat diet during their normal sleeping hours, while other mice were fed the same type and amount of food during their normal waking hours. The mice who ate during their normal sleeping hours, gained significantly more weight (a 48% increase) than their counterparts (a 20% increase).
So, what does that mean?
What these results mean is that it is not enough to watch the calories you consume. You have to watch when you consume them. Eating during the times when you should should be sleeping, such as right before bed or when you wake up in the middle of the night, can contribute more weight gain than the calories in the item you eat would suggest.
That is because it appears that the body’s energy use is linked to its circadian rhythm. More of the calories that are consumed are burned during natural waking hours than would be if they were consumed during normal sleeping hours. So, try to eat during more normal eating hours, so that you can maximize the amount of calories burned. That way you can work smarter, not harder when you are trying to lose or maintain weight.
Source: Obesity, 2009, 264 (via ScienceDaily)