Have you ever wondered how many hours you should ideally sleep each night or researched how to time meals for optimal health and metabolism?
The initial response of active people and especially hard core athletes would probably be to sleep more and eat your carbohydrates after you workout. Beyond those basic tips, there’s not much more information available out there. While the true impact of nutrient timing and sleep can fill volumes of textbooks, a couple of recent publications on the subject have drawn some important conclusions we want to share with you.
Study 1 – Night owls are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome
Any one that travels frequently across time zones understands the importance of natural circadian rhythms. However, researchers have discovered what is called a “chronotype” – or a trait determining individual circadian preference when isolating individual traits. Individuals that preferred the evening, or the “evening chronotype,” where more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, metabolic syndrome or sarcopenia (the age associated loss of muscle mass).
Study 2 – Late lunch? More likely to gain weight
Over 400 participants where split into two categories: those who regularly ate lunch before 3pm and those who ate lunch after 3pm. They were then instructed to follow a 20-week weight-loss treatment. Following the 20 week intervention, decreased weight loss and weight loss occurred at a slower pace in the late lunch group, despite that fact that energy intake, dietary composition and estimated energy expenditure where all similar between groups. Furthermore, late-eaters where more likely to have an unbalanced or under nourishing breakfast or skip breakfast all together.
Other findings from the study include the fact that late eaters where generally more insulin resistant and were accustomed to eating late dinners as well. Of note is the correlation and potential causation of specific gene variations with meal timing and obesity. The specific gene in question is located on chromosome 4, and is labeled the CLOCK gene.
Multiple components of circadian rhythm, meal timing and sleep patterns, where shown to impact health through physical characteristics such as weight gain and physiological maladies including metabolic syndrome. While the later study reviews and estimates the role genetics plays in this topic, it is important to understand that ‘night owls’, those who consume meals later are increasing their risk of developing metabolic related diseases.
Hee Yu, J. et al (2014). The J of Clin. Endoc. & Metab.
Garaulet, M. et al (2013). Int J Obes (Lond). 37. 4.