Eating at this time of day could reduce hunger, study suggests

Story at a glance

  • When you eat can affect how your body processes the food.

  • Some research suggests that eating later in the day could affect weight gain.

  • A study finds that eating more earlier in the day reduces hunger and appetite, which could affect weight.

Research suggests that when you eat could affect weight gain and metabolism, especially if it is later in the day. In a highly controlled experiment, researchers tested this theory in a group of people who are obese to see how shifting timing of calorie intake could affect metabolism and appetite.

In a paper published in Cell Metabolism, the team reported that calorie intake earlier in the day leads to significantly less hunger.

Thirty people who are obese were recruited to take part in the experiment. All participants were on weight loss diets, but some had their caloric intake to be greater in their morning meals while the other group had higher caloric intake in their evening meals.

The calories consumed at each meal were also morning loaded or evening loaded by percentage of daily intake. People whose morning meals were heftier had lower self-reported appetite and hunger.

The study authors think that this may be the reason why morning meals and the behavior changes that result from that, as in lower calorie intake, may explain why morning loaded diets have benefits. However, in this study, both groups experienced similar levels of weight loss throughout this period and there were no differences in energy metabolism.

The study results suggest that eating later can lead to “an increase in hunger, impacts hormones and also changes gene expression, especially in terms of fat metabolism with a tendency towards less fat breakdown and more fat deposition,” according to physician Bhanu Prakash Kolla, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and was not involved in the study.

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