It happens to the best of us: we’re sitting in front of the TV set at night with a beer in our hand, and although we’re trying to concentrate on what’s happening inside the little black box, a little voice in the back of our head continues to try and persuade us to go to the kitchen and pull that bag of Doritos from the cupboard.
But why does this happen predominantly at night? Why don’t we crave for these things as soon as we get out of bed in the morning? You could argue that a sense of coziness, relaxation, and even reward after a hard day’s work is the main contributing factor to this phenomenon, But scientists from Oregon and Massachusetts believe the real reason has to do with the behavior of our ancestors: they published their studies in Obesity Magazine recently.
In ancient times, our ancestors used this excess storage to hunt for food the following day. but with our sedentary lifestyle of today, that has become obsolete, and that’s why late night snacking now leads to obesity.
They also discovered that the time of eating is almost just as important as your diet and exercise regimens. A good example of how your body responds to nutrients differently according to the time of day is the fact that the body has more trouble processing sugar at night. In general, we don’t use up as much energy after an evening meal in comparison to breakfast or lunch. That’s why I’ve decided to switch my large, carbohydrate meals to lunch rather than having them at dinner.
But this is just one example: there are other reasons why late night snacking is bad for your figure. The key thing, the scientists found, is the way your internal clock influences your eating habits, and at the same time is influenced itself by artificial light. Could this mean that the artificial light originating from ordinary light bulbs, and even your TV could trick the mind into thinking it’s time to eat?
In an earlier article, we already looked at the importance of sleep for your diet, and in fact the science team discovered that your circadian rhythm increases your feelings of hunger at night. Monitoring 12 patients closely for 13 days, they were able to determine that the circadian rhythm causes an evening peak in appetite, even for specific types of ingredients, like sugar, starch, and salt.
According to the researchers, the two main lessons they took from their experiment, is that first, it is advisable to have your carbohydrate-rich meals as early as possibile in the day and have a lower calorie intake at night.
The second conclusion is one we know already: you need to develop a steady sleeping pattern in order to keep your cravings under control. Not only will your brain be tired if you have erratic sleeping patterns, but it will also be less able to resist the temptation of reaching for that bag of candy!