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Beware! Late night meals can increase weight, cholesterol levels

Eating late at night could cause several health problems including weight gain and increase in insulin and cholesterol levels, show the initial results of an ongoing study.

fitness Updated: Jun 03, 2017 17:10 IST
The researchers also found that eating earlier may help prevent overeating in the evening and at night.
The researchers also found that eating earlier may help prevent overeating in the evening and at night. (Shutterstock)

According to a recent study, eating the last meal of the day before 7 p.m. could help you stay in better health.

“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 lead author of the ongoing study Namni Goel, Research Associate Professor, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in the US.

“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,” Goel said.

The new findings, scheduled to be presented at SLEEP 2017, the 31st annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS) in Boston, offer experimental evidence on the metabolic consequences of consistent delayed eating compared to daytime eating.

In the study, nine healthy weight adults underwent two conditions, one of daytime eating (three meals and two snacks between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.) for eight weeks and another of delayed eating (three meals and two snacks eating from noon to 11 p.m.) for eight weeks.

There was a two-week washout period between conditions to make sure there was no carry over effect. The sleep period was held constant, between 11 p.m. to 9 a.m. The team found that when participants ate later, compared to the daytime condition, weight increased.

Respiratory quotient -- the ratio of carbon dioxide produced by the body to oxygen consumed by the body that indicates which macronutrients are being metabolised -- also rose during the delayed eating condition, indicating later eating led to metabolising fewer lipids and more carbs.

The researchers also found that a series of other measures reflecting negative metabolic profiles increased in the delayed condition, including insulin, fasting glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. The researchers also found that eating earlier may help prevent overeating in the evening and at night.

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