If you fast for 16 hours between last night’s dinner and this morning’s breakfast, you’re more likely to not gain weight than if you ate a snack while watching TV prime time, unless the snack was a cup of unsweetened herbal tea without milk. The test involved mice fasting 16 hours between late afternoon dinner and breakfast the following morning.
In the mice who fasted for 16 hours daily, measures of digestive hormones, cholesterol and glucose suggested that liver enzymes were working hard to break down cholesterol into bile acids. The body’s stores of “brown fat,” the stuff that converts extra calories into heat, were revved up in the mice tested.
As a result, the liver of each lab mouse stopped production of glucose. As they burned fat, their body temperatures were actually higher, according to the May 18, 2012 Los Angeles Times article, “Nighttime fasting may foster weight loss – Los Angeles Times.” Can the 16 hour fast between dinner and breakfast the next day also work on humans who want to manage their weight gain issues?
Some older adults comment that to control both weight issues and acid reflux they never eat after 4:00 p.m. Others wanting to prevent acid reflux end a late afternoon dinner with a cup of water into which a level tablespoon of spirulina powder has been stirred.
Sacramento consumers who eat dinner late and night may have a higher risk of gaining weight than if they ate their last meal of the day before 4:00 pm. Think about the custom in some areas of the world to eat dinner at 9:00 pm after a two-hour break at noon.
Can this lead to weight gain compared to the person who eats an early protein-rich breakfast, a lunch at noon that is the largest meal of the day, and a bowl of soup with a small salad and perhaps a slice of toast as the last meal between 3:00pm and 5:00 pm? Also see the article, “Midnight snacks pack on the pounds.”
How or why you as an individual gains weight is complicated and not only according to portion size, calories, or how slow your digestion is when you’re tired at night when you need to sleep instead of digest food. If you’re hungry after eating a balanced meal every few hours, even if a very small meal, should you drink filtered water between meals instead of loading up on the snacks? That depends on your blood glucose spikes and dips. How do your biorhythms respond to the hours of the day in your need for food?
You’ll have a greatly increased risk of weight gain if you eat at night. This would include getting up late at night to eat a snack. You gain more weight when you eat at the wrong time of day for your specific metabolism. See the latest research article in the journal, Obesity, “Circadian Timing of Food Intake Contributes to Weight Gain.”
For more information on how biorhythms affect the individual human body in different ways, see my other Examiner article for more detailed information on biological clocks: “How biorhythms and food balance your inner clocks.”
Wise foods and chronobiology traditions from jet lag to eating at night
Wise food and chronobiology traditions reveal that what is certain is that the person you are in the morning is different from the one you are at night. Your blood pressure rises between 8 a.m. and 12 noon, then starts dropping until it’s midnight low. There’s an internal clock governing your hormone levels and your heartbeat, all following different clocks that may bear only a slight relation to your daily cycle.
Individuals respond to this regulation by periodic changes in their growth and behavior patterns. Jet lag is one example of what happens when the internal clock is out of whack.
Morning people have a higher body temperature than the afternoon or evening person
That’s what gives morning people that early morning burst of energy. Afternoon or evening people have lower body temperatures in the earlier hours of the morning.
All these inner clocks, your biorhythms, are affected by whether you start the day with specific types of protein or complex carbohydrates. And if you’re eating whole grains, for energy, it’s part of wise food traditions to let the whole grains ferment overnight in a refrigerated jar or pot of filtered water.
Research is currently underway at Chicago’s Northwestern University and at Weinberg College of Arts and Science’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology. How the weight gain occurs is that your body is regulated by biorhythms, also called circadian rhythms. When those rhythms are interrupted, weight gain could occur.
The regulation mechanism for the circadian rhythms is being researched to see what role it plays in weight gain from eating during hours your body normally would be sleeping.
Timing meals to manage your weight
The research results would be applied to the study of excess weight loss strategies based on timing meals according to your individual chronobiology or circadian rhythms. Research on the effects of eating at night on increased weight gain comes under the category of studies in neurobiology and physiology. In the original experiments, mice were fed a high fat diet during the time the mice would normally be asleep.
On the other hand, the research on mice may or may not be applicable to humans. So the studies remain inconclusive until science shows humans react the same way. Naturopaths, on the other hand, have long warned people not to eat at night. Some nutritionists suggest people not eat after 4:00 pm if they are older and lack enough digestive enzymes, which could result in acid reflux when lying flat.
Other nutritionists recommend taking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to make up for the lack of digestive enzymes in older adults. In the eating at night experiments with mice, what the scientists were trying to determine is how biorhythms, chronobiology, and circadian inner clocks influence eating habits.
Changing perceptions of hunger with high nutrient density diets
Results have been published in the medical journal, Obesity. The journal, Obesity, also has an informative article, “High glycemic index diet quickly lowers plasma antioxidant levels.” Also check out the article,Changing perceptions of hunger on a high nutrient density diet – Nutrition Journal. For more information on how circadian clocks affect the human body, you can read the article, Chronobiological Interventions in Mood Disorders.
The research noted in the article stated that “studies provide evidence that chronobiological treatments (SPA/TSD/light therapy) may represent novel and safe augmentation strategies that could contribute to the management of unipolar and bipolar depression.”
There is also preliminary evidence suggesting that variations in genes supporting the molecular clock (Clock and GSK3-b) may influence core features of bipolar disorder, such as age at onset and rate of recurrence. See the article, Serretti A, Benedetti F, Mandelli L, et al. “Genetic dissection of psychopathological symptoms: insomnia in mood disorders and clock gene polymorphism.” Am J Med Genet. 2003.