A small study has found that eating a late dinner may contribute to weight gain and high blood sugar.
It’s estimated that over 2.1 billion adults have overweight or obesity, which make health complications like diabetes and high blood pressure more likely. Some studies suggest that consuming calories later in the day is associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome.
“This study sheds new light on how eating a late dinner worsens glucose tolerance and reduces the amount of fat burned. The effect of late eating varies greatly between people and depends on their usual bedtime,” said the study’s corresponding author Jonathan Jun from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, M.d. “This shows that some people might be more vulnerable to late eating than others. If the metabolic effects we observed with a single meal keep occurring chronically, then late eating could lead to consequences such as diabetes or obesity.”
The researchers studied 20 healthy volunteers (10 men and 10 women) to see how they metabolised dinner eaten at 10pm compared to 6pm. The volunteers all went to bed at 11pm. The researchers found that blood sugar levels were higher, and the amount of ingested fat burned was lower with the later dinner, even when the same meal was provided at the two different times.
“On average, the peak glucose level after late dinner was about 18% higher, and the amount of fat burned overnight decreased by about 10% compared to eating an earlier dinner. The effects we have seen in healthy volunteers might be more pronounced in people with obesity or diabetes, who already have a compromised metabolism,” said the study’s first author Chenjuan Gu, from Johns Hopkins University.
Participants wore activity trackers, had blood sampling every hour while staying in a lab, underwent sleep studies and body fat scans, and ate food that contained non-radioactive labels so that the rate of fat burning (oxidation) could be determined.
“We still need to do more experiments to see if these effects continue over time, and if they are caused more by behaviour (such as sleeping soon after a meal) or by the body’s circadian rhythms,” Jun said.
The study, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, was supported by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.
Read “Metabolic Effects of Late Dinner in Healthy Volunteers – A Randomized Crossover Clinical Trial,” HERE.