You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – but new research suggests it’s not just about when we have our first meal, it’s also about the timeframe within which we eat. Here’s what you need to know.
This research has found that eating within a 10-hour time frame could be the best time to achieve weight loss goals, reduce high blood sugar levels and improve cholesterol. Another study from the same journal has confirmed the long-held belief that eating earlier in the day is ideal, with the findings indicating the earlier the better. Perhaps the early bird really does get the worm.
The advantages and consequences of your eating schedule
The study indicated that eating within this 10-hour window drastically reduced the count of participants’ LDL cholesterol – this is the bad kind that causes heart disease. More impressive yet, participants’ blood pressure and blood sugar levels also came down – even those with metabolic conditions saw an improvement. If this research is accurate, it could change the way we eat and the way we plan our days – that means no more midnight snack attacks!
Further studies found that not only is eating earlier better for our metabolic health, but that eating later could be detrimental. Late night eating was associated with a higher risk for heart disease and high blood pressure, along with leaving people feeling less satiated and hungrier throughout the day. But don’t worry, we’re not talking sunrise-early – the participants generally started eating around 7 or 8 in the morning to reap the benefits.
The study found that people who followed a later eating schedule burned fat slower than the early eaters, leading to a build-up in fat stores, and therefore a higher risk for weight gain – and obesity. Considering the mass rise in cases of obesity around the world, this research is worth taking a look into. Affecting 1.9 billion people around the world, obesity is one of the biggest public healthy crises of the 21st century – even kids aren’t immune, with a sobering 1 in 6 Aussie children living with the condition. With our increasingly processed foods and excess sugar intake, that number is only slated to keep growing, and this is what makes the study’s findings so noteworthy – those who ate earlier in the day burned as many as 60 calories more than their late-eating counterparts.
Researchers believe it may also have to do with what eating later does to our hormones – the first study found that there was a 16% reduction in leptin. Leptin is a hormone that signals fullness to the brain after eating a meal – without this, hunger levels will be unregulated, resulting in the consumption of more frequent and larger meals. This places many people on a direct trajectory to obesity – especially if the foods we’re eating are high in added sugars and trans fats. The former is known for leaving us ravenous, along with causing the build-up of visceral fat – the bad kind of fat – which not only raises the risk for diabetes, but for a range of deadly diseases like liver and heart disease.
How does eating lead to these health benefits?
The effects of your eating schedule may come down to one thing – circadian rhythms. These cycles dictate our body’s internal regulation of sleep and functionality, and have drastic effects on everything from your appetite to maintaining glucose levels and metabolism. When things get out of whack with our sleep cycle, that’s when we start to see a rise in issues with energy and even immunity.
But it’s not just about getting your 8 hours – this research suggests that the timeframe within which we eat could have a major influence on the stability of our circadian rhythm. If we strike the balance right, our whole bodies will benefit. If we don’t, we’ll end up with a higher risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
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