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Even though late-night snacking is generally not regarded as a healthy practice, the occasional nighttime snack could be a tasty shift of pace. Now, Northwestern University researchers might have discovered why eating in the evening frequently results in diabetes and weight gain.

Eating at night changes the circadian rhythm 

Although widely established, the complex interaction between when you eat, when you sleep, and the risk of obesity is still poorly understood. This most recent study describes how energy release may act as a molecular trigger to allow our bodies’ internal clocks to regulate energy balance.

According to the study authors, eating during the day is the optimal or ideal time because of the Earth’s rotation’s ability to release heat in a light environment. They clarify that these findings have extensive ramifications for various health issues, including diets, sleep deprivation, and the optimal strategy to feed individuals who need long-term nutritional support. 

Feinberg School of Medicine’s Charles F Kettering Professor of Medicine’s Dr. Joseph T. Bass said that changes to the circadian clock would affect the body’s metabolism. Bass adds that the clock is scrambled when animals take western-style cafeteria diets. High-fat diets alter the clock’s responsiveness, which is reactive to the timing of meals, particularly in fat tissue. Although scientists still don’t know why, we understand that whenever animals gain weight, they tend to eat disproportionately when they ought to be sleeping. This study demonstrates why that counts.

Mice fed during inactive hours gained weight 

During the study, researchers gave mice a high-fat diet during inactive (light) and active (dark) periods. Mice fed during inactive hours gained more weight than those fed at night. Researchers found an energy balance component where mice expend more energy by eating at certain times. 

Additionally, Researchers studied the metabolism of adipose tissue to ascertain if the same changes occurred within the endocrine organ after noticing an increase in energy use. In essence, the same outcomes were seen, and rodents with genetically increased thermogenesis—the release of heat through fat cells—did not put on weight and had improved health.