friend Madelyn sends me periodic requests to address her issue
of late night snacking. Wonders if this habit may hinder her
efforts to lose weight.
it may, say researchers. And they blame it on our circadian
rhythm — our "internal clock" that tells us —
among other functions — when to sleep and when to wake up.
this circadian control center also regulates our hunger
signals, according to a recent study at Oregon Health and
Science University. Researchers kept volunteers in a
controlled environment and found they were the least hungry in
the morning around 8 a.m. And most had a surge of hunger in
the evening around 8 p.m. This cycle of hunger might explain
why some are prone to skip breakfast and then be driven to
overeat at night.
we wired this way? Perhaps our appetite "peaks" at
night to feed us before we enter a long period of sleepful
fasting, say researchers. And guess what we tend to crave when
the lights go dim? Sweet, starchy and salty foods (as in candy
and popcorn at the movies).
the reason, experts now confirm that late night eating is a
good way to gain weight. Case in point: Sumo wrestlers
intentionally pack on the pounds by not eating breakfast and
loading up on food...lots of food...later in the day.
our goal is not to become Sumo wrestlers, we might attempt a
few strategies to push back from the hunger that urges us to
overeat into the evening:
bed earlier. Our pioneer ancestors went to bed when the sun
went down and rose when it came up—a plan apparently
preferred by our circadian rhythm. When we resist the urge to
stay up late, we resist the urge to munch when the sun goes
down. And we prevent the storage of excess calories into fat—something
our body does easily when we overeat at night.
enough sleep. Less than about 7 hours of sleep a night does
more than just make us cranky, Lack of sleep increases our
hunger cues and messes with our body’s ability to control
blood sugar levels.
your circadian clock. Can we do that? We do know that we
respond to calories (energy from food) differently at
different times of the day. As the day wanes, we expend fewer
and fewer calories as we wind down for beddy-bye. So fewer
calories at the end of the day are less likely to hang around
old adage is still true, say experts: Eat breakfast like a
king...lunch like a prince … and dinner like a pauper.
advice if you want to lose weight? Do the opposite of Sumo
wrestlers. Eat your larger meals earlier in the day. And snack
lightly — if at all — into the evening.