When our kids were young my wife Clare and I were often so busy in the early evening — feeding them, putting them to bed and reading them stories — that we’d end up collapsed in front of the TV, before then cooking the evening meal. This meant we’d often find ourselves eating well after 9pm.
But more recently we’ve made an effort to start eating our dinner by 7.30pm, as well as avoiding too many late-night snacks.
Doing so is almost certainly good for the waistline, as a recent study from the University of Nottingham and Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran confirmed.
What is clear from many studies is that our bodies don’t like having to deal with lots of food late at night. A midnight snack will have a worse impact on you than the same food eaten earlier in the day [File photo]
The researchers had asked 82 healthy but overweight women to go on a weight-loss programme — the women didn’t normally finish their evening meals until well after 10pm, but now half were asked to finish their eating by 7.30pm at the latest.
After 12 weeks both groups had lost weight, but those who changed to eating earlier in the evening had lost an average of 15lb, compared with less than 11lb for the late eaters. In other words, just by changing the time they ate the early eaters had shed an extra 4lb. They also lost an extra inch around the waist and experienced greater improvements in their cholesterol and blood fats.
This wasn’t because the later-eating group consumed more — the two groups essentially had the same calorie intake. Instead, the researchers think that, among other things, late-night eating might affect the genes that control your body clock, leading to a greater risk of obesity (and type 2 diabetes).
I wasn’t entirely surprised by this because a few years ago, as part of a science documentary, I did an experiment where I ate a classic British fry-up, with lots of bacon, eggs and sausage, at 10am and then again at 10pm.
Straight after my morning meal I had a blood sample taken, and then again every half-hour for the next few hours.
After that, I had nothing but water until 10pm, when I had exactly the same meal. Again, my blood was taken regularly over the next few hours.
More recently we’ve made an effort to start eating our dinner by 7.30pm, as well as avoiding too many late-night snacks. Doing so is almost certainly good for the waistline, as a recent study from the University of Nottingham and Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran confirmed [File photo]
When the results of the blood tests came back, they were pretty shocking. After eating a full English fry-up in the morning my blood sugar and fat levels quickly rose, but soon returned to normal as my body used them as fuel, or stored them around my gut for later.
What happened in the evening, however, was very different. Despite eating exactly the same meal, my blood sugar levels went up and stayed high for several hours. The fat levels in my blood…