A study has found that people who eat their evening meal later have more fat than those who eat earlier.

 Incredible as it may seem, this is not pseudoscience but a respected scientific study. By studying people who eat ‘closer to natural bed time’ compared to those who eat earlier, researchers found that the timing of the evening meal can influence the amount of body fat. No other factor such as activity or calories eaten differed between the two groups so the influence of such factors could be ruled out.

 To understand this finding better, we must understand the difference between the time at which people actually go to bed compared to the time at which the body says that we are ready for bed, our natural bed time. The latter is dictated by the release of the sleep hormone, melatonin which prepares the body for sleep. This release of melatonin starts before bedtime and builds up towards bedtime. The study suggests that if we eat our evening meal when the levels of melatonin are too high, our food is more likely to be laid down as fat.

Of course, one confounding factor may be that people who have more fat, either release melatonin earlier or go to bed naturally later than lean people. This cannot be ruled out by the study.

 

Doi: 10.3945/ajcn.117.161588