Late-night dinners and snacks can boost your risk of obesity and diabetes, according to a new study. People of normal weight who shifted their evening meal from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. increased their markers for becoming obese and developing diabetes.
According to Dr. Gabe Mirkin, M.D., author of "The Healthy Heart Miracle," the study subjects had higher blood sugar, insulin, and cortisol levels and a lower ability to remove and use fat from their cells.
"These are all risk factors for obesity," he said, adding that previous studies have shown similar results while others have found that eating most of your calories in the morning and fewer at night helps you lose weight.
"If you don't move around and contract your muscles after eating, you increase your risk for high blood sugar levels," Mirkin explained. "You also burn the fewest number of calories when you sleep, so it makes sense to eat your last meal earlier in the evening and not right before bedtime."
Many experts adhere to the old adage of eating "Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper." Some recent advocates of intermittent fasting have recommended skipping breakfast, a controversial move, according to dietitians.
Dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick, the manager of wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, said "not only should you NOT skip breakfast, you should make it the biggest meal of the day."
She cited a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that followed female volunteers. The study found that those who skipped breakfast had a higher degree of hardening of the arteries. Another study found that individuals who made breakfast the largest meal of the day were more likely to lose weight than those who made lunch or dinner their largest meals. A study of type 2 diabetics found that a large breakfast containing protein helped in the management of their disease.
According to BBC Future, when overweight and obese women were put on a weight-loss diet for three months, those who ate most of their calories at breakfast lost two and a half times more weight than those who consumed a light breakfast, saving most of their calories for dinner.
Mirkin says that the "least healthful time to eat is just before you go to bed, and the most healthful times to eat are before your exercise or within an hour after you finish exercising " to help control blood sugar levels.
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