Why you should avoid eating food late at night

Why you should avoid eating food late at night

If you are used to eating food late at night, be careful. You may be unwittingly spoiling your metabolism and paving the way for obesity, according to the studies published so far.

As experts explain, when we eat food after 8 p.m. a series of metabolic changes occur in the body which result in us burning fewer calories. In addition, the need for food intensifies and changes occur in adipose tissue that favor weight gain.

One of the most recent studies on the subject was published in 2022 in the medical journal Cell Metabolism. Scientists from Harvard University recruited 16 overweight or obese volunteers, with an average age of 37. All five were women.

During the study the volunteers were subjected to various measurements. Before these, they followed specific sleep schedules at home for 2-3 weeks. However, they inevitably followed the same diet. In addition, they had to eat their food at certain times.

Among the eating plans examined was one in which they ate their evening meal at 12 midnight. For good health, the constant recommendation of experts is to eat the last meal of the day early – ideally by 8 pm.

Study participants reported how hungry they felt and how much they wanted to eat. They underwent blood tests and measured their body temperature and burns. They also provided adipose tissue samples, which were analyzed.

Intense hunger
As the researchers found, eating late at night was associated with increased feelings of hunger. This was due to changes in the levels of the two main hormones that regulate hunger. These are:

  • Ghrelin, which stimulates the feeling of hunger
  • Leptin, which suppresses it

The study showed that eating late at night was associated with a 16% decrease in leptin levels. What's remarkable, though, is that this was observed without the participants changing anything in their diet, explains lead researcher Dr. Frank Scheer, Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard University.

The researchers are continuing their research to determine whether their findings hold true in real life, where living conditions are less controlled than in a scientific study.

Article in Greek

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