The Midnight Snack
Night Cravings and Their Affect on Your Diet
It’s just about that time again. Supper was four hours ago and your stomach starts to growl. Perhaps you check your dieting app to see how many calories you have to spare. Oh yes, a snack won’t hurt, you think. Or will it?
According to Joy Dubost, an Academy of Nutrition Dietetics spokeswoman, the widespread belief was that “a calorie is a calorie no matter when we consume it.” Now, we are presented with new research showing that the timing of consumption may be affecting how efficiently we burn calories as energy.
One study, done on mice, showed that the group of mice that were put on a time-restricted diet faired better. The group of mice that were allowed to eat whenever they wanted showed many negative side effects such as, weight gain, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and liver damage. It is important to note that both groups were given the same amount of calories to consume and yet just being on a schedule alone improved the health of those mice. This study is backed by research done by Satchidananda Panda who states, “Every organ has a clock… When we eat randomly, those genes aren't on completely or off completely.” This being said, it is clear that during the day when we are more active, our metabolisms can burn calories more efficiently and in turn, we are less likely to store those calories as fat.
Panda’s study raises another question about time-restricted diets. Does eating a midnight snack affect my metabolism during the day as well? As stated above, “When we eat randomly, those genes aren’t on completely or off completely.” To delve further, Panda’s publication entitled “Time-Restricted Eating to Prevent and Manage Chronic Metabolic Diseases” states that when we are strict about eating within an eight to twelve hour time frame our circadian rhythm uses our active - rest cycles to optimize our metabolism. If we do not give our body the best opportunity to do so, we miss out on a healthier metabolism that is more capable of processing our daily caloric intake.
So here we are again. It’s 11:59 pm and the inner alarm is about to ring. Ominously a voice can be heard in the back of your mind, “Go on, it’s just a snack… What’s the worst that could happen?” But now we’re prepared. Knowing how your eating habits affect your health and well-being is the first step to a healthier, happier lifestyle. For more information about reaching your optimal weight and improving your overall health make sure to pick up a copy of the easy to read, yet extremely informative, “Happy Cells, Healthy You” authored by Maday Labrador Ph.D.
- Ethan Sturtz