Late night eating piles on the pounds


Regular mealtimes are not just something your mother insisted on, they could also be a good way to help you lose weight, and with currently more than 300 million obese adults worldwide every little can help.

A Northwestern University study has found that eating at irregular times, especially late at night, does affect weight gain. Night time is when your body uses sleep to regulate many of your bodily functions and eating before bedtime puts an extra strain on that system. That means that digestion of your food gets put on hold, as it is not so important to the body as the maintenance and repair of more essential functions.

Our circadian clock, or biological timing system, governs our daily cycles of feeding, activity and sleep, with respect to external dark and light cycles. Recent studies have found the body’s internal clock also regulates energy use, suggesting the timing of meals may matter in the balance between caloric intake and expenditure.

Your body’s own circadian rhythm dictates those bodily functions so losing weight may not just be as simple as calories in and calories out. It could also be as simple as changing the time of your main meal.

Shift workers are particularly vulnerable to weight gain because their schedules force them to eat at times that conflict with their natural body rhythms, but all of us could benefit from moving that evening meal to no later than 8pm, and no late night snacks.

How your body clock affects how you age


We all have an internal body clock, or circadian rhythm that dictates whether we are an owl or a lark and governs many of our normal functions such as body temperature, brain activity, hormone production and metabolism. These things are well known and we can study our own rhythms to help us balance our lives better so we don’t study at a time when our body is not at its mental best, or try to sleep when it is naturally ready to go out and party.

Now it also appears to affect how we age, at least according to new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis who have discovered that our inner biological clock actually communicates directly with the processes that govern aging and metabolism.

As we age, our circadian rhythm declines and the researchers believe that this could be a contributing factor to age-related disorders such as type 2 diabetes and is linked to a gene called SIRT1 which at the center of a network that regulates aging, coordinates metabolic reactions throughout the body and manages the body’s response to nutrition. This biochemical mechanism can directly drive the oscillation of the body’s daily clock and is potentially a way to correct metabolic disorders and improve health as people age.