And you thought losing weight depends only on what you eat?

Experts now believe that losing weight may not depend only on what you eat but also on when you eat. Eating breakfast on weekdays at 7 am and on weekends at 10 am can create “metabolic jet lag”, a phenomenon that can disrupt your body’s ability to metabolize food.

The research, conducted by scientists at Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, reveals that metabolic jet lag may be part of the reason behind the weight gain and obesity epidemic. A robust metabolism is key to staying in shape, with people across the world trying ways to boost their metabolism.

The researchers are now trying to monitor the number of hours people eat- each day, using an app that tracks when and what you eat. They are also trying to figure out if limiting the time you eat in a day can lead to weight loss.

Most of us tend to eat over a 14-16-hour long span – we begin with our first meal of the day when we get up and may end with a snack late at night. Research has also shown that that eating so much across the day may also disrupt the body’s ability to metabolize food. lose weight - Eating Time

Preliminary research shows that limiting the number of “eating hours” from 14 to 10 may lead to weight loss, improved sleep and improved satisfaction overall. Despite no reduction in the calorie count!

Regular late-night eating may also have a huge impact on weight gain.

For long, we have believed that a calorie is a calorie no matter when you consume it. But even the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently said that “…based on the emerging research…the timing of a meal may potentially have an impact”.

Studies have consistently shown that when food is consumed late at night — be it after dinner or outside a usual sleep/wake cycle — the body is more likely to store those calories as fat and gain weight rather than burn it as energy. Apart from weight gain, eating out of the normal rhythm may lead to higher levels of blood sugar and increase the risk of chronic disease.

Two studies – conducted at The University of Murcia in Spain – have also linked the time of eating to weight issues. One of the studies, published in 2013, revealed that “eating later in the day makes people lose less weight, and lose it slower”.  When the participants of the study ate late, they couldn’t metabolize carbs as well as when they ate earlier. They also had decreased glucose tolerance, which can lead to diabetes.

Clearly, eating late impairs the success of weight-loss therapy. Isn’t it time you shrank the time between your meals and confined them to a 10-hour window?

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Written by Neha Jain

Neha Jain

She may have multiple degrees to back her expertise, but Neha Jain believes there’s nothing complex about nutrition. There is no magic formula for a healthy diet – the trick lies in balancing a variety of food groups and ensuring you’re eating the right portion size. With an MSc in Food and Nutrition from Delhi University and diplomas in naturopathy and yogic sciences, Neha is also a certified diabetes educator with extensive experience in endocrinological disorders and weight reduction, having worked with renowned endocrinologist Dr Ambrish Mithal in Delhi. Her goal is to help people find easy ways to make healthy choices, and believes HealthifyMe has simplified her task with its technology. Neha’s made the right choices for her family – she’s helped her husband control his high cholesterol levels and borderline diabetes by changing the meal plan at home, and introducing him to regular exercise – and now she’s hoping to ‘healthify’ you too.

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