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New research from the Weizmann Institute of Science suggests that when you eat may be just as important as what you eat. Though the work is in its infancy, lead researcher Gad Asher, MD, PhD, says eating according to your body’s circadian clock may help fight obesity.
“So far, most efforts to fight obesity and metabolic syndrome centered on the food composition, such as the amount of calories and their source, and did not take into account that the time one ingests the food is also critical,” says Dr. Asher. Animal studies done in his lab and other labs indicate that mice that are restricted to eating only during their activity time do not develop obesity and metabolic syndrome compared to mice that eat at will.
The research team identified and quantified hundreds of mitochondrial proteins, which power our cells, and found that 40% of these proteins peak once a day. Of these proteins, they discovered an enzyme that establishes the rate of sugars needed for energy production. The enzyme peaked four hours into the daylight part of the circadian cycle, suggesting that the mitochondria’s capacity for burning sugar is at its highest around this time.
Dr. Asher says many questions need to be addressed to determine whether these findings are also relevant for humans, but maintaining a balance between what and when you eat seems to be important. “The basic principle is that you should limit your food consumption to the activity phase (i.e., during the day) and avoid eating during rest time (i.e., at night), in accordance with your internal body time,” he says.
See also 5 Health Risks of Eating Too Fast