hero image

A new study has revealed that eating late at night could be detrimental as it reduces the burning of calories, increases hunger, and could change the metabolism of individuals that are obese or overweight. 

Late-night snacking increases the risk of obesity 

Avoiding late-night snacks is a piece of advice that has been given to many people who want to reduce weight. It makes sense, given the wealth of data linking late-night snacking to higher body weight or greater risk of obesity.

However, little research has truly examined why eating at night is associated with becoming overweight. The Study by Harvard Medical School researchers s Brigham and Women’s Hospital sought to uncover this and found that eating four hours late can change molecular and physiological mechanisms leading to weight gain. 

Although studies have delved into the issue of late-night eating on weight gain, none has looked at the three factors responsible for weight gain: caloric intake regulation, the number of calories someone burns, and molecular changes in fat tissue. 

In the new study, researchers looked at the effects of eating early relative to eating late while controlling for other aspects such as physical activity, sleep, and light exposure. 

Researchers evaluated individuals deemed obese 

The study was carried out on 16 individuals who were deemed to be obese or overweight. They underwent two lab procedures in which the meals were postponed by 240 minutes each: the early dining cohort and the late eating cohort. They also adhered to rigorous meals at home for three days before the lab routines and set sleep and wake routines for 2 to 3 weeks.

First study author Nina Vujovic said that in the study, the researchers sought to establish whether the time someone ate mattered when other aspects were kept constant. 

Researchers discovered that late eating reduced the burning of calories, doubled the chances of feeling hungry, and chafed the mechanisms of lipid metabolism. Interestingly eating late was found to alter biological and physiological functions responsible for energy intake regulation.