Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Is There a Right and Wrong Time to Eat?

It’s very possible that our ever-increasing waistlines are affected not only by what we put into our mouth, but when we partake in meals. A recent study endeavored to prove that choosing the right time to eat could make a difference in the amount of weight we gain.

After noticing the tendency of shift workers to be overweight, researchers from Northwestern University investigated whether eating at times that conflict with the body’s natural circadian rhythms could be contributing to weight gain. Two groups of lab mice were fed an identical high-fat diet and experienced the same amount of exercise. The only difference between the two was the feeding time: one group was fed at night, which is the normal feeding time for mice since they are nocturnal, while the other group was fed during the day, their normal resting time.

The mice eating at the correct time had a 20 percent weight gain after six weeks, while the second group experienced a 48 percent gain in weight, as well as an increase of 8 percent more body fat. Study co-author Fred Turek, director of Northwestern’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology, said the findings seem to show there really is a wrong time to eat. “How or why a person gains weight is very complicated, but it clearly is not just calories in and calories out,” he said in a statement. “Better timing of meals, which would require a change in behavior, could be a critical element in slowing the ever-increasing incidence of obesity.”

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