Chrononutrition: Is When We Eat Just As Important As What We Eat? (Part 2.)

If you’ve read the first part to this article then please feel free to carry on… However, if you missed the first part then click here to get up to speed.

1. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper

We’ve heard it all before but how many of us really eat our biggest meal at breakfast? I know I definitely don’t.

Although, maybe it’s time we started eating more at breakfast and less throughout the day. Research suggests that eating more of your calories in the morning can have greater effects on weight loss than eating more of your calories in the evening. The study also showed that those who ate a larger breakfast reported being more satiated than those who ate a larger dinner. Eating late at night can increase Grhelin (the hunger hormone) and our desire for high fat, high sugar foods. 

bfast spread.jpg

2. Genes

Genes do play a role in the release of Melatonin and the way in which we utilise food in the evening. There isn’t much more to say on this as I don’t suggest you start buying home testing kits. Unfortunately the science is not there to be able to support these yet. Although it’s interesting to note that our genes do have a role to play.

3. Gut health

There is a small amount of research to suggest that eating late at night, close to the time we’re looking to go to sleep can impair our gut microbiome even if the meal is a healthy one. We need more research on this area though to be able to conclude this for certain.

4. Exercise

Let’s be realistic here, we can’t all exercise at the exact time we want to and sometimes we’re lucky if we can fit it in at all. However, if you are someone who really struggles to sleep you may wish to consider exercising earlier on in the day as exercising right before bed may contribute to an impaired metabolic clock.

5. Caffeine

If you’re familiar with some of my work then this shouldn’t be a surprise to you! I’m forever banging on about not drinking caffeine after 2pm. Caffeine can really impair our internal body clock and delay the onset of Melatonin. As a result try ensure you’re last caffeinated drink is around 2pm and switch to a herbal variety from then on.

So there you have a whistle stop tour of chrononutrition and whether when we eat is as important as what we eat. In an ideal world we might all want to time our meals perfectly although let’s be realistic we don’t live in an ideal world and so I think it’s easier to make healthier choices than strategically plan the timing of your food intake. Hopefully this information can help you make some healthier choices although please be sure not to play havoc with your social lives too!

 

Morgan, L. M., Shi, J. W., Hampton, S. M., & Frost, G. (2012). Effect of meal timing and glycaemic index on glucose control and insulin secretion in healthy volunteers. British Journal of Nutrition, 108(7), 1286-1291.
Jakubowicz, D., Barnea, M., Wainstein, J., & Froy, O. (2013). High caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women. Obesity, 21(12), 2504-2512.Asher, G., & Sassone-Corsi, P. (2015).
Time for food: the intimate interplay between nutrition, metabolism, and the circadian clock. Cell, 161(1), 84-92.Bonham, M. P., Bonnell, E. K., & Huggins, C. E. (2016).
Energy intake of shift workers compared to fixed day workers: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Chronobiology international, 33(8), 1086-1100.