It is said that when you eat your meals will not make a difference for losing weight. It’s all about calories consumed and calories burned, and it doesn’t matter the time of day you consume them. But if it were merely a plus/minus proposition, and not even the proponents of this thinking agree, then it would be easy to at least identify how to lose weight. But there are other factors that come into play.
Here we will try to identify what some of those other factors might be.
1. People who eat later tend to eat more. This probably stands to reason, as the more time in a day a person eats, the more he will probably eat, and the more calories he will consume. If a person eats his last large meal at four or five in the afternoon, he probably won’t feel the hunger pangs until shortly before bedtime. Maybe the right low-fat small snack to get you through the night if you need it and you should be able to cut into your calorie intake.
2. Intermittent fasting. There have been studies that show that if you can avoid eating for longer than eight hours, the cells run out of glycogen produced from our last meal. At this point they start using our stored fat, which obviously means weight loss. Therefore, let’s say you should finish your last meal of the day at 4PM and not eat breakfast until 7AM, or fifteen hours later, theoretically at least your cells should be burning excess fat for about seven hours.
The most recent test that sheds some light on the benefits of intermittent fasting comes from mice. They found that mice fed a high-fat diet gained less weight when fasting for 16 hours compared to mice who were allowed to eat a comparable amount when they wanted. Since we are also advised by many diet experts that eating smaller meals is better than gorging ourselves less often, perhaps the ticket is to eat throughout the day, then dispense with our consumption in late afternoon.
3. Better sleep. For many people, sleeping with a full stomach or after eating the wrong things before bedtime makes for a poor night’s sleep. I know many people who drink an extra glass of wine a little too late in the evening pay for it with restless sleep two or three hours into the night’s slumber. Incidentally, researchers have determined that alcohol-related sleep issues are worse for women than men.
4. Keeping triglyceride levels in check. When people eat late, they increase their triglyceride levels, which is the fat found in the blood. High levels of these are thought to increase your risk of heart attacks and stroke.
So it might seem on the surface that if you consume the same number of calories, it might not matter the time of day that you consume them. But there are a number of additional factors involved, such as how eating affects sleep. Different people are going to react differently, and it certainly is something we should all examine for our own health. But the payback from intermittent fasting is something that we don’t fully understand, but on the surface does make some sense. Additional testing hopefully will tell us much more.