You’ve got your MyFitnessPal on the go, you’re tracking your steps and you’re making sure that you’re counting your macros. But you’re still not losing as much weight as you’d like. There could be one major reason for this, and that’s got nothing to do with all the good stuff you’re already doing. New research suggests that there’s a time of day that can be affecting your metabolism and therefore how much you’re losing weight. Keep scrolling to find out more and what you can do to avoid it…
According to a study conducted by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, "delayed eating can increase weight, insulin and cholesterol levels, and negatively affect fat metabolism."
Lead author Namni Goel, PhD, explained that eating later in the day can affect many different things in your body from weight to energy, as well as "hormone markers—such as higher glucose and insulin, which are implicated in diabetes, and cholesterol and triglycerides."
In the study, nine healthy adults undertook a programme of eating three meals and two snacks between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. for eight weeks. After a two-week break, the nine participants ate the same three meals and two snacks between the hours of noon and 11 p.m. over a period of eight weeks again. Both times, they slept from 11 p.m. until 9 a.m. Researchers discovered that in the later-eating part of the programme, participants didn't break down fat as easily, in effect slowing down their metabolism.
But that wasn't the only result that indicated eating earlier in the day is good for you. When the volunteers started their meals earlier in the day, it meant the hormones released when full were triggered earlier too. This meant participants were less likely to snack later on and this helped to prevent over-eating.
We spoke to The Sleep Geek, aka James Wilson, who gave us some sage advice about diet and sleep. Wilson says that if you go to bed at 10 p.m., then you should be eating a good couple of hours before and also make sure that you don't eat anything too heavy—even if it is healthy, as it's harder to digest and might even keep you awake.
This isn't great news for night owls, as research already shows that those who prefer to go to bed later put weight on easier. So, for those who stay up late, you might want to reconsider your sleep patterns, or at least how much you consume later at night.
If you're struggling to sleep, however, there are a few foods that can help you. Jason Wrobel, a raw vegan chef and author of cookbook Eaternity (£16), says that foods containing potassium, magnesium, calcium, and tryptophan will help you slumber. Brown rice, chickpeas, bananas, and cherries are ideal.