Are you dieting and still not losing weight? Have you added exercise and physical activity to your lifestyle and still can't seem to shrink your waistline? A new study conducted by Northwestern University says that the problem might not be with what you're eating, but when you're eating it. Researchers at Northwestern found that shift workers tended to be overweight, so they decided to investigate if there could be a link between eating at times that conflicted with the body's normal circadian rhythms and weight gain.
Two groups of mice were fed identical high-fat diets with the only differences being when the mice were fed. Since mice are normally nocturnal their normal eating time is at night, so one group was fed during what would have been their normal resting time. The mice fed at the normal time showed a 20 percent weight gain after six weeks. However the second group showed a 48 percent weight gain and an 8 percent increase in body fat.
Fred Turek, director of Northwestern's Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology, said the findings seem to show there really is a wrong time to eat. "How or why a person gains weight is very complicated, but it clearly is not just calories in and calories out," he said in a statement. "Better timing of meals, which would require a change in behavior, could be a critical element in slowing the ever-increasing incidence of obesity."
"Sleep has a very important role in metabolism," said Deanna Arble, a neuroscientist at Northwestern. "While I do not believe the field is advanced enough to prescribe appropriate eating times for each individual, I believe we can at least say that humans should avoid eating during their normal sleeping phase because this could lead to increased weight gain."
But Arble says it is also important not to lose sight of the importance of total caloric intake. "If you are taking in excess calories daily, the time you eat probably doesn't matter-you will still gain weight," she said. So if you're trying to lose weight and you think you're doing all you need to do and the pounds still don't come off, maybe you should look at when you're eating, as well as what you're eating.
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