Summer is here, and many people are focusing more on working to maintain a healthy weight so that they can look their best for the season. There is no better motivation to lose weight than having to put on a swimming suit.
Traditionally, the best way to lose pounds has been through a combination of dieting/restricting calories and exercise. However, a new study has found that eating before bed can sabotage your weight loss efforts and that intermittent fasting and meal timing may play a key role in the likelihood of shedding pounds.
How Eating Before Bed Affects Your Weight
The latest research confirms that when you eat your meals may have a significant effect on how your body processes and stores calories. As researchers discover more about how when you take in your calories affects metabolism, it becomes increasingly clear that it is not just what and how much you eat, but also what times of the day that you eat. This insight may prove valuable for people looking to lose weight without undergoing major lifestyle changes.
Participants in a recent study conducted by Vanderbilt University were divided into two separate groups. Each group was given the same amount of calories and engaged in a consistent level of activity. The only difference between the groups was that one received a late-night snack before bedtime and no breakfast in the morning, while the other group did not eat before bed and instead ate breakfast.
Researchers monitored the metabolism of each participant through the use of a human metabolic chamber which gave the researchers access to continuous measurements of the metabolic rate of each individual. Also included in the measurements was the rate of breakdown of carbohydrates and fats.
The results? Regardless of the fact that both groups had the same caloric intake and activity levels, those who ate breakfast, as opposed to a late-night snack, burned 15 more grams of fat in a 24-hour period than those who partook in a before-bed snack but skipped breakfast.
This study demonstrates how the body’s natural circadian rhythms regulate the process of fat burning. More specifically, the results of the research indicate that fasting from dinner until breakfast is more effective at burning off the pounds than eating before bed and skipping breakfast.
Ultimately, the takeaway is that your traditional bedtime snack may be hampering your weight loss efforts. Food that is ingested before you go to bed may delay the burning of fat that typically takes place as you sleep. This knowledge may help you to think twice before you reach for that late-night snack.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
One of the latest trends in dieting is the concept of intermittent fasting. This relatively new practice involves consciously avoiding eating for a designated period of time each day. There are a variety of ways to practice intermittent fasting. Some plans encourage dieters to refrain from eating on alternate days. On the fasting days, most individuals enjoy a 500-calorie meal at lunch and refrain from taking in any more calories the rest of the day. Some plans require that you do not eat at all on your fasting days.
Other intermittent fasting plans encourage fasting between certain hours of the day. These plans are referred to as daily intermittent fasting. Most of these plans restrict eating to an 8-hour period, leaving 16 hours of fasting in a 24-hour period. Other versions restrict eating to no more than a 12-hour period each day.
In general, intermittent fasting can provide a myriad of health benefits, including helping people with metabolic syndrome, improving concentration, promoting good sleep, fighting inflammation, helping to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and more.
The information gleaned from studies regarding eating before bed and its implications may be extremely valuable in determining the hours during which food intake should occur for the greatest benefit to metabolism and weight maintenance.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
There are numerous benefits attributed to following an intermittent fasting lifestyle. In addition to being an effective way to lose weight, studies have shown that intermittent fasting may also extend an individual’s lifespan as it reduces the risk of developing a myriad of chronic health conditions.
Intermittent fasting may also play a role in improving cognitive function by helping the nerves to protect themselves from harm. Additionally, some researchers have found that intermittent fasting may boost insulin sensitivity, helping people to better manage diabetes.
As with any diet, it is important to check with your doctor before beginning any new plan. Intermittent fasting is not without its risks, making it important that you understand how this diet and lifestyle plan may affect your overall health. The plan may also not be a good fit for your lifestyle, particularly if you are an athlete or if you are dealing with significant stress in your life.
Why This Matters
In today’s modern society, it is a struggle for most people to lose weight. Many developed nations have serious issues with large amounts of the population being clinically overweight. Obese individuals are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, various metabolic syndromes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and more. Learning how to best manage your weight will promote a healthier way of living.
Understanding how the body’s natural circadian rhythms and sleep patterns can work with the timing of your eating can help you to learn how to maximize weight loss. The implications of maintaining a healthy weight to your overall health are vast, making it important that you understand how the timing of your meals may affect your ability to shed pounds.