If you are constantly snacking between mealtimes, then insulin levels never come down from their peak – and you will soon notice the effects on the scales. There are particularly serious consequences if you can’t keep away from the fridge overnight or regularly have evening meals that contain a lot of carbohydrates such as noodles or potatoes.
This is because at this time of day, your body’s key metabolic processes – such as cortisol, which is responsible for burning fat – are on the back burner. If you eat a bag of crisps in front of the TV or a chocolate bar before bed, your insulin levels will spike, knocking ghrelin and leptin completely out of their usual rhythms. This also affects your sleep: do you sleep better and feel more refreshed after an early, light dinner or after a snack-fest late at night?
Constantly high insulin levels can also cause our bodies to become used to this state, in the worst case promoting the development of diabetes and its complications. In addition, recent studies have shown that the human body has a built-in memory. If you constantly reach for snacks between meals, your body remembers this and demands food at the same time the following day, creating a vicious cycle.
So what about the advice you hear to have five small meals per day? Ill advised! If insulin levels are kept high outside of peak hours, our fat deposits are constantly being topped up. The result – as the years pass, we become fatter and fatter. Think about it: putting on a kilo in a year doesn’t seem like much at first, but that means ten kilos of extra weight in a decade!