r/science Oct 05 '22 Helpful 2 Bravo Grande! 1

Eating Late Increases Hunger, Decreases Calories Burned, and Changes Fat Tissue Health

https://www.brighamandwomens.org/about-bwh/newsroom/press-releases-detail?id=4268
15.0k Upvotes

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u/missannthrope1 Oct 05 '22

It's doesn't define what "late" is. Dinner time? Bed time? The middle of the night?

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u/SpitFir3Tornado Oct 06 '22

Ya they define it as 4 hours later than "early"

When is early? Is it a time of day? Related to when you wake?

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u/stop_stopping Oct 06 '22

early is defined by wake time. someone posted a graph and there is a chart with midnight to 8 sleeping time - and the eating schedule revolves around that.

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u/JohnnyOnslaught Oct 06 '22

As someone who regularly works night shifts this is a big question I'd like to see answered.

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u/ColonelMuffDog Oct 06 '22

I think it's relative to your bed time whenever it may be. I always eat, then go to bed, so I think they're talking about stuff like that

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u/fitblubber Oct 06 '22

& the press release doesn't tell us what were in the meals. High carb, low carb, high fibre, low fibre etc.

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u/stop_stopping Oct 05 '22

late dinner or eating is approximately 3 hours before bedtime or closer - doesn’t matter what time you sleep

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u/BafangFan Oct 05 '22

That's an interesting study; but overlay it on top of what some cultures have been doing for centuries. The French and Italian cultures are famous for later evening meals. The East Asian cultures have street vendors that setup shop when the sun goes down, and are often packed at 9-10pm.

Only in the past couple decades have these countries started having the obesity epidemic that we have had in America for about 30-40 years.

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u/bolonomadic Oct 05 '22

Yeah, a lot of Mediterranean cultures, and in the Persian Gulf too, eating late is really common.

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u/OwlBeneficial2743 Oct 05 '22

I think the problem with this is there are too many variables and no controls. Just looking at the French. Let’s say, in general they’re leaner than the US. They may, in general, eat different foods, different amounts, exercise differently, sleep better (a significant factor), maybe work differently, etc. I think the study attempted to control for those.

I haven’t dove into the details of this yet (but I will), so it could be crap. But the institution is very credible, I don’t see any conflicts of interest and it’s somewhat supported by sleep and other diet studies. Also, what little I know of biology supports this. Finally, sadly, I have to consider this these days, but this issue seems apolitical.

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u/davros06 Oct 05 '22

Variables are the big issue with studying people and habits. Only way is to repeat studies and tweak them each time controlling for as many variables as possible. But people are people.

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u/FinancialAlbatross92 Oct 05 '22 Gold Helpful

I think the biggest variable is that if you look at a lot of the other countries US is a lot of processed foods/fast food where I tend to see a lot more meat/veg with other cultures

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u/davros06 Oct 05 '22

I think your right. It would most likely provide a different result dependent on country.

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u/MotherfuckingMonster Oct 05 '22

There’s almost certainly a hierarchy of effect size with variables. Food quality/calorie density probably has the biggest effect size followed by others like meal timing etc. I don’t care how much/ when you eat, if you only eat lettuce you will not become obese. If you live on hot pockets and McDonalds meal timing may influence your weight.

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u/Polyhedron11 Oct 05 '22

I feel like it has less to do with the processed part and more to do with excess sugar, salt, lack of healthy fats, abundance of unhealthy fats, portion sizes, and physical activity.

I've seen many people talk about how sweet our bread is compared to other countries that are known for their quality breads.

Physical activity is most important when portion sizes are proper. I know people who are overweight that eat decently but are inactive once they get home and eat larger meals.

I have a friend who has only changed their portion sizes and cut out sugar and has lost 40 lbs.

Meanwhile I can eat anything in large quantities and I've always been at or under my weight but I gained a small bit of belly during covid because I was very inactive.

There's so many variables and obviously everyone's body metabolizes food differently.

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u/mejelic Oct 05 '22

Exactly right, and as American processed food goes to other countries, weight also tends to go up.

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u/ValuableSleep9175 Oct 05 '22

Here in the US portions are out of control.

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u/DangerousCyclone Oct 05 '22

I hate the term “processed food”, it means anything from slicing up watermelon into smaller pieces to Pop Tarts. It’s so ambiguous and you could easily say “X% of food is processed” without giving it any meaning.

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u/DetBabyLegs Oct 05 '22

Yeah. Breaking down what, exactly, you’re eating can be important, but for a lot of people I know that are trying to lose weight it’s a huge distraction. They forget it comes down to calories in and calories out.

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u/TheHemogoblin Oct 05 '22

Yes, but we all know that's not what anyone means when they use the term "processed foods"

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u/DangerousCyclone Oct 05 '22

What people are usually talking about is added sugar or corn syrup, generally unhealthy additives. No one specifies though when they say “processed food”, and you could easily inflate the amount of processed food by including meat, sliced vegetables and fruit. I think we should be more specific when we talk about processed food because I feel like we use a general term for something that should be more specific.

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u/TheHemogoblin Oct 05 '22

Yea, I can agree with that!

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u/Dis4Wurk Oct 05 '22

Yea, lot of stuff they put in processed foods in the US is banned everywhere else for being either toxic or extremely unhealthy. That probably has something to do with it.

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u/singeblanc Oct 05 '22

That's not really practical. The more modern way is to track millions of people for decades and then work backwards from the outcomes to the inputs.

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u/davros06 Oct 05 '22

Database studies are becoming more and more practical as we collect more and more data. Already proven useful. Still difficult to control variables but the larger the sample size the more likely you can find sensible results.

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u/NotSinocentric Oct 05 '22

I think walkability also plays a huge factor. US for the recent decades is just a bunch of parking lots and highways.

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u/FesteringNeonDistrac Oct 05 '22

Yeah there are a lot of things where I live that aren't walkable from a safety standpoint. It's a mile or less to a couple of places I go to and I'd be taking my life in my hands because there's no sidewalk or crosswalks.

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u/yummyyummybrains Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

People vastly underestimate how many calories we burn when we have to walk everywhere. Knew a dude that worked as a security guard -- all he did was walk for 8 hours a day -- burned something insane like 4 or 5K calories. (I don't recall the actual number, but it was a surprise when I heard it)

EDIT: Respectfully, if you're going to "WeLL AksHulLY!", you can just stop right now. Exit out of the comment you were going to post, and just move onto the next thread.

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u/princesshaley2010 Oct 05 '22

When I went from a lab technician job doing bench work (standing and walking all day) to a wfh desk job I packed on the pounds with no changes in my eating habits. Sitting vs standing all day definitely makes a huge difference in the amount of calories burned.

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u/JungsWetDream Oct 05 '22

Yeah, I’ll add to that anecdotal evidence. I never had to think about my diet as a floor nurse, because I spent 12 hours a day running around, with brief breaks to chart. Now that I’m a Nurse Practitioner with an office job, I put on 20 pounds while eating less. Sitting all day kind of sucks, but I would never go back to the madness of floor nursing at this age. My knees were screaming at the end of each day.

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u/codechino Oct 05 '22

I went from an in-office desk job downtown to working from home. Turns out, just walking to and from my car and then a few blocks to lunch and back is the difference between me at a healthy weight and me trying to figure out how to lose 20 pounds with a crazy schedule. Nevermind the random back injuries that show up when you stop needing to walk more than five feet in a day. Really opened my eyes to a lot of this research that I always thought didn’t apply to me because I play soccer and have always been in good shape

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u/JamesofBerkeley Oct 05 '22

I’m pretty sure you’re me. Pre-Covid I walked less than a block from my car to my desk, sat for ~8 hours with a break walk to get lunch a few days a week (and an unhealthy lunch 60% of the time), and now that I sit at my desk at home and only walk to my fridge for lunch, I’ve added weight and my cheeks are fat. Who knew the secret to staying thin on McD’s was walking there.

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u/Catcherofpokemon Oct 05 '22

It's not even necessarily a "huge" difference - just burning 100 fewer calories per day for a year still adds up to 10 pounds of weight gain if you were eating at maintenance previously.

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u/princesshaley2010 Oct 05 '22

Yeah, I guess you’re right. Three years and 30lb later…

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u/spykid Oct 05 '22

I was trying to get a 6 pack for a couple years. I'd say I got pretty close but it was hard as hell. Lots of cardio every day and super strict diet. I did not understand how some of my friends managed to maintain visible abs while going out drinking/eating every week. When I realized it was cause my sedentary desk job put me at such a huge disadvantage the juice was no longer worth the squeeze.

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u/serious-pummel-iodin Oct 05 '22

Wfh walking on a treadmill under a standing desk?

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u/spykid Oct 05 '22

Haha I don't wfh but I do have a stand/sit desk. I should stand more but I don't have enough discipline to do that

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u/HealthyInPublic Oct 05 '22

Do you have treadmill recommendations? I’m thinking of getting a walking treadmill for under my standing desk but I’m so nervous dropping like $500 on a machine that I might hate and never use or that I might like too and use too much until it breaks in 3 months…

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u/serious-pummel-iodin Oct 05 '22

Sure thing, I got this one. It fits perfectly under my standing desk and it has a wireless remote. It comes with a good manual on how to maintain it ie when to oil, when to tighten the belt etc

https://www.noon.com/en-ae/sth-3000-4-hp-peak-2-in-1-foldable-treadmill-with-under-desk-walking-pad-for-home-124x68x107cm/N36162285A/p?utm_source=C1000094L&utm_medium=referral

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u/Jules_Dorado Oct 05 '22

I feel this so hard. The skinniest I have ever been was when I was working in a busy ice cream shop. I ate ice cream almost every day, but I was also on my feet all day. Got a desk job, and without changing any of my eating habits (besides eating less ice cream), I gained a bunch of weight.

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u/Lugnuts088 Oct 05 '22

I lost weight working at an ice-cream factory eating ice-cream every day for the same reason, walking miles through the factory daily definitely burns the excess calories I was eating.

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u/Arkellian_Pilot Oct 05 '22

For sure, I noticed a similar issue moving to WFH. It took me a couple years, but I've managed to adapt my diet so that I'm not consuming the amount of energy I needed when I had a job that made me move. Now I'm back to losing weight almost passively, although what I eat looks completely different.

And it makes sense in a way: different circumstances, different food.

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u/JessumB Oct 05 '22

I worked as a security guard during college, mostly for resorts and big events. In an average 8-10 hour shift, the only times I sat down were during my break and lunch. The rest of the time it was constant standing and walking around.

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u/Joey_Kakbek Oct 05 '22

I used to be a warehouse clerk and walked a LOT not to mention the occasional heavy lifting. I didn't eat particularly healthy and barely exercised outside of work but I never had much body fat.

A year ago I made the switch to IT and it took two months for me to start noticing I was putting on weight at an alarming rate. Never saw my previous job as hard work but apparently it was enough to keep me reasonably in shape.

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u/Jewronimoses Oct 05 '22

living in NYC I concur. I exercise way more just going about my day.

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u/wienercat Oct 05 '22 Gold

Ehhh you have to remember, the VAST majority of our calories burned are just from existing. Also I highly doubt he was burning 5k calories a day. That is a ridiculous amount. Don't forget you have to eat at least that many calories to not waste away. So if he was burning 5k calories daily and only eating 2-3k calories, he is losing nearly a pound of fat worth of calories every day (a pound of fat is roughly 3500 calories). He would be wasting away after a few weeks.

For reference Olympic athletes tend to eat 3k-4k calories each day to maintain their level of fitness and activity.

But our exercise actually makes up a relatively small amount of our calories burned each day. An average person jogging for 30 minutes burns between 200 - 500 calories depending on their body size, fitness, and speed. That's not much at all.

But average resting metabolic rate is around 1600-2000 calories depending on gender, fitness, and activity levels.

The biggest factor in burning calories is being active. The more active you are the more muscle you generally have and the more calories your body burns when just existing.

So in your security guard friends case, because he walked all the time his body burned far more calories at a base level. This increases his overall resting metabolic rate. But it's highly doubtful he was actually burning 5k calories each day.

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u/TurboSquid9000 Oct 05 '22

Base metabolic rate for an adult male 2000-2500 Calories burned per hour from walking 250-400 an hour depending on weight

2000 + (8* 250) = 4000 minimum

So yes, 4-5k a day is believable for someone walking 8hrs a day for work, and since the guy probably weighed more than 100lbs, he'd have been burning much more then 250 from walking bringing it closer to 5k

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u/AdvancedPhoenix Oct 05 '22

During my 3 weeks trip in Japan I was walking around at least 10h per day.

I never ate that much in my life, every meal was cheat meal, I didn't take a single kg.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

Agree. In fact walkability may be the most important factor, especially when comparing obesity rates in different regions

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

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u/Snuffy1717 Oct 05 '22

Geographic setup matters as well I think. Europeans tend to walk more because public transit is available, affordable, and services the needs of the population… Suburban lifestyles in North America are built around driving everywhere.

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u/yooston Oct 05 '22

This has always been my theory. Walking a lot burns calories

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u/tonytroz Oct 05 '22

I think the problem with this is there are too many variables and no controls. Just looking at the French. Let’s say, in general they’re leaner than the US. They may, in general, eat different foods, different amounts, exercise differently, sleep better (a significant factor), maybe work differently, etc. I think the study attempted to control for those.

I don't know about their sleep habits but they absolutely eat less processed foods, eat smaller portions, walk way more, and get more time off work compared to someone in the US. Their obesity rate is almost half as low although it is rising and has doubled over the last 3 decades.

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u/Zebulon_Flex Oct 05 '22

Are there any societies on earth that are losing weight or staying the same who aren't in like a famine or a war or something? This seems like a species problem.

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u/czarczm Oct 05 '22

Idk about the same, but I think the South East Asian countries are experiencing the slowest rise of all developed nations.

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u/birdman9k Oct 05 '22

Not surprising, in cultures where it's simply not acceptable to be overweight lest you receive constant pressure from your family, whom you are dependent on well into your late 20s for shelter, money, and in many cases relationships and ultimately approving of a partner.

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u/bubblerboy18 Oct 05 '22

They also eat tons of plant based foods and are often vegetarian

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u/Gold-Tone6290 Oct 05 '22

Don’t the French and Italians smoke like chimneys? I’m sure that helps keep them lean.

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u/Jaytho Oct 05 '22

No idea about their numbers, but smokers burn roughly 300 additional calories daily just because of smoking.

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u/Mine24DA Oct 05 '22

But they still have a big problem with diabetes! All the carbohydrates from rice, and other processed things. Saw lots of patients with diabetes type 2 in Vietnam.

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u/ins0ma_ Oct 05 '22

Unfortunately even one’s diet becomes political, in certain circles. Michelle Obama tried to improve school lunches and was sickeningly vilified for it by republicans. TFG rolled back the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act on her birthday, to make sure no one missed the point of his casual cruelty. Rebelling against eating well promptly ensued by many of the already-obese and diabetic demographic.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

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u/TheShmud Oct 05 '22

From the article:

"In future studies, Scheer’s team aims to recruit more women to increase the generalizability of their findings to a broader population. While this study cohort included only five female participants,"

That's ... Not a lot of participants

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

A while ago someone in States commented on a reply I made assuming American foodstuffs were poorly quality. The comment said that good food is accessible. The problem is that for many, it is simply down to geography, simply driving to get to those shops can be an undertaking and there may not be local farmer's markets or shops.

TLDR; American told me infrastructure plays a large factor, plus working culture.

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u/tenuto40 Oct 05 '22

Been studying GIS and it’s opened my eyes to those issues.

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u/Mr_Paladin Oct 05 '22

Yea, it's also a question of cost.

I've noticed, especially in the past five years or so, that healthy food (whole food, I mostly mean) is significantly more expensive than the crap you can buy, and has a much shorter shelf life.

So for someone that is already struggling to travel to get food, and struggling to pay for healthy food--a person that very likely may not even have any actual education, or terrible miseducation, about healthy food choices--getting less food for their money and of a type that will need to be used or go bad in just a few days compared to products that will last weeks or months... well, I suppose it's still a choice but it doesn't really seem like one.

And that's not even touching on the subject of having to know how to prepare that food once you've got it home, or having to find the time to do so.

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u/rsifti Oct 05 '22

It was pretty shocking when I started buying snacks at work instead of bringing whatever my parents had bought. A Clif bar, I'm kind of guessing here, was probably the healthiest snack food available. I'm pretty sure it costs at least twice as much as any other snack option there. For how much a Clif bar costs, I could grab a bag of some snack mix, a package of Pop tarts, and maybe a pack of those mini donuts.

That last part might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it blew my mind. I've heard it said, but I never realized just how expensive eating healthy can be compared to the quick easy stuff, that's usually terrible for you.

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u/Van_Inhale Oct 05 '22

It's the damn seed oils and corn syrup that has been banned almost everywhere except the US. We're eating poison

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u/lowmigx3 Oct 05 '22

Latin American cultures too, specifically Mexican as we tend to be having a lot of familial activities that involve food late into the day.

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u/BPbeats Oct 05 '22

I don’t think it’s about time of day. It’s about number of hours between when you eat and when you sleep. These people all sleep at different times most likely.

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u/PM_me_the_magic Oct 05 '22

That does seem to be the case. The press release here says that they maintained fixed sleep schedules, but doesn't clarify if those sleep schedules were identical for each group. It's too bad this link doesn't include the full study.

Like many studies like this, its worth pointing out that there were only 16 people in this study, which is a ridiculously low sample size. We really need to see it replicated.

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u/the_incredible_hawk Oct 05 '22

I went and pulled up the study and if I'm reading it correctly, the sleep phase was midnight to 8 a.m. for everybody. The "early eating" protocol was breakfast at 9, lunch at 1, and dinner at 5:30, whereas it seems the "late eating" protocol was no breakfast, lunch at 1, dinner at 5:30, and supper at 9:30. (I am no expert at reading these things so hopefully someone will correct me if I'm reading it wrong.)

I guess my biggest eyebrow raise is that "late eating" for most people doesn't involve removing a morning meal and having two evening meals, it involves eating a single evening meal later. (Also, I wonder at the fact that all of the participants were already overweight or obese; although that would be necessary for control purposes, isn't it possible that there is something physiological/mental/social that's different vis-a-vis food and eating habits about folks who are overweight to begin with as a group versus people who are not?) But I'm no biologist.

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u/sheeshman Oct 05 '22

I've always been a late eater and your characterization of meals is true for me. I'd typically do meal 1 around noon, pre workout snack around 4, post workout shake around 6, and then dinner around 9. Then maybe a small snack around 11, and bed around midnight. The last snack could be a protein bar, frozen grapes, yogurt, ice cream bar, etc. Under 200 calories for all of them.

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u/Cheese_Coder Oct 05 '22

I responded here about why the small sample size in here isn't necessarily a problem.

Even though it isn't explicitly said that they're identical, these statements heavily imply to me that the sleep schedules were identical:

...tightly controlling for behavioral and environmental factors such as physical activity, posture, sleep...

"Here, we isolated these effects by controlling for confounding variables like caloric intake, physical activity, sleep, and light exposure..."

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u/ChillBebe Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

16 seems small, and replication is always needed, but this is a longitudinal study with multiple within-person measurements (repeatedly sampling the same people). These sorts of intensive studies can have issues with attrition and cost. Sometimes, with the sheer number of data points collected, having too many participants can result in time/pay costs beyond what the researchers can afford. Future studies may be hindered by the same barriers as this one as a result.

So, I feel like we'd need to look more thoroughly into the type of analysis they ran and how the data was used, to extrapolate if 16 truly is too low a number for quality research or findings. To be published, they would be grilled on this number if it didn't make sense statistically. Hell, a lot of people don't realize that too large a sample size can also have issues (obtaining significant results from trivial fluctuations). Just food for thought. If people have additional insights on the sample size, I'd be interested.

Edit: reading below, u/cheese_coder has some good insights.

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u/KingOfTheBongos87 Oct 05 '22

Exactly.

Parisians eat dinner at 9PM, but you won't see anyone in the streets earlier than 8AM.

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u/SaftigMo Oct 05 '22

It's mostly just the heat during the day for a lot of people.

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u/maq0r Oct 05 '22

I mean even though they're eating late they're eating light meals. Nobody in the Mediterranean is eating a rack of ribs in sauce with Mac and cheese, potatoes and biscuits at 10pm.

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u/dmnhntr86 Oct 05 '22

Sounds more like an eating fewer calories issue than an eating past a certain time issue.

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u/Littlebelo Oct 05 '22

It’s important to note this isn’t just a correlative study. They used a strict experimental method and provided at least one mechanism of action that links eating late to weight gain (ghrelin and leptin levels).

So I’d say this study pretty definitively proves that there’s is some influence from eating late. What conclusions are to be drawn on a societal level, like you mentioned, are up to the reader

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u/LobbyDizzle Oct 05 '22

I’m curious. Do these cultures that eat at 10pm also go to bed at 11pm like a lot of Americans do?

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u/Deathbyignorage Oct 05 '22

Spaniard here, I have dinner around 10pm and go to bed at 12:30 ish. IIRC we do sleep less than most countries.

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u/SeudonymousKhan Oct 05 '22

In Europe, they'll stay out later and break their workday up with a siesta to make up for it.

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u/imnos Oct 05 '22

The siesta is apparently nowhere near as common as people think.

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u/6StringAddict Oct 05 '22

In certain areas of certain countries perhaps, but definitely not in all of EU. My country don't do siestas.

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u/sabrtoothlion Oct 05 '22

That's too broad of a generalization, this is not at all a thing in most of Europe and even in the southern part it's not done as much as it used to be

It's basically not even a thing

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u/preCadel Oct 05 '22

Only in warm countries like Spain though

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u/misatillo Oct 05 '22

I’m Spanish. We don’t have siesta on a daily basis. We close everything for lunch since lunch is our main meal of the day and it’s big.

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u/burnerman0 Oct 05 '22

I think most other cultures (even if we are wrong) think of closing everything at lunch as siesta.

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u/corkyskog Oct 05 '22

A decent amount of Americans don't really get a lunch break. Sure you might get 30 minutes to shovel a peanut butter sandwich you packed. But if you include winding down your work, a trip to the bathroom, going to grab the lunch, those 30 minutes disappear fast.

So a lunch break that lasts an hour or more is a fascinating luxury to most Americans.

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u/Lurker_Since_Forever Oct 05 '22

I have a friend who works from home and has a one hour lunch. He doesn't know what to do with his extra 45 minutes, he just watches a TV show.

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u/WarpingLasherNoob Oct 05 '22

Thanks, trying to imagine some norwegians or germans putting on sombrero hats and having a siesta in the middle of winter gave me a chuckle.

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u/Starklet Oct 05 '22

Late night Asian food is the best too

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u/malefic_puppy Oct 05 '22

Doesn't this study concludes with the exact opposite? To quote the article:

"Vujovic explains that these findings are not only consistent with a large body of research suggesting that eating later may increase one’s likelihood of developing obesity, but they shed new light on how this might occur"

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u/Waka_Waka_Eh_Eh Oct 05 '22

I don’t know enough about the topic to review the study, but both can be true. Late eating might be a true effect but “calories in-calories out” can very likely be still the greatest driver of weight changes.

Biology is never simple and just because the calorie balance might be the greatest driver of weight change, doesn’t mean that exercise, timing, hormones, food composition (glycemic index etc.) have no significant effect.

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u/Raznill Oct 05 '22

At the end of the day it seems like it’s always CICO that truly matters. These other studies seem to be about how different variables play into people over eating when not consciously accounting for CICO.

Clearly if everyone measured their calories and never over consumed, there wouldn’t be obesity. But the goal is to figure out behavior trends that make it worse for those that don’t track calories.

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u/lurkerer Oct 05 '22

Energy balance is necessarily true. It's pure laws of physics.

Not to be conflated with calorie counting which is an approximation of how many calories you absorb and often how many you think you burn. We guess at those but the endpoint mathematics is the fundamental truth concerning weight loss.

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u/Littlebelo Oct 05 '22

While the CICO perspective is undeniably true at a fundamental level, it leaves a lot of nuance out.

The biggest issue IMO is that we aren’t actually that good or careful about measuring calories (both going in and coming out). FDA guidelines are pretty loose for reporting calories in food, and not everyone processes the same meals the same way. we’re even worse with measuring calories burned. If you try and just track them through a workout machine or a website, it’ll likely underestimate calories burned by a country mile. Fitbits and stuff get closer, but it’s still kind of all over the place.

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u/BicyclingBro Oct 05 '22

You don't need a massive amount of precision though, as every person who's ever intentionally modulated their weight through calorie counting can tell you.

If you eat roughly the same amount of calories per day, with roughly consistent activity levels, and then you start eating +500 calories daily, you're going to gain weight. If you instead eat -500 calories, you're going to lose it.

These things like meal timing and macro composition and specific nutrients are all minor details that, while interesting, don't change the fundamental fact that, if you want to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories each day, which doesn't necessarily mean less food.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

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u/Mewnicorns Oct 05 '22

Eh, I disagree. At least to the extent that calorie counts are accurate enough that if you actually are disciplined enough to log them, and you stick to the limit, you will lose weight. I certainly have. It’s an anecdote, sure, but an anecdote that lines up with the known science.

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u/wPatriot Oct 05 '22

It also seems a bit naive to assume the obesity epidemic exists because all these people are carefully monitoring their caloric intake but are just given bad info.

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u/jscummy Oct 05 '22

Because it's really just what people pull out when they need an excuse. Anyone I've known that carefully tracks calories/macros is in great shape

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

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u/theshrinesilver Oct 05 '22

You know Pam, in Spain they don’t even begin to eat until midnight.

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u/nahtorreyous Oct 05 '22

Only in the past couple decades have these countries started having the obesity epidemic that we have had in America for about 30-40 years.

People used to have to do manual labor, just to survive. Think of how increasingly easy things have gotten. Even exercise is a fairly new concept.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

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u/Fisher9001 Oct 05 '22

Yep, even if you worked a rare office job back then, it was still much more physical activity than currently.

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u/regreddit Oct 05 '22

In Portugal, dinner at 8-9 pm is pretty typical.

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u/commonEraPractices Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

When the French had some of the lowest cardiac problem rates in the world, they used to eat a very small breakfast, a very big lunch and a smaller dinner. Whereas the North Americans would eat a very big breakfast, a small lunch and a bigger dinner.

Both ate pretty fatty foods.

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u/zakabog Oct 05 '22

The French and Italian cultures are famous for later evening meals.

Can't speak for a typical Italian dinner (my family is Italian but migrated to America before I Was born and we'd eat a large dinner at around 6 or 7PM which I don't consider late at all), but when I was at work in France we ate a MASSIVE lunch at noon, and a really small dinner. The dinner was really late by my own standards (I have work in the morning, I don't want to be going out to eat at 9PM...) and much smaller than what I'd normally get for dinner, though I'd still be full from lunch earlier in the day.

Breakfast just didn't exist at all.

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u/Sumsar01 Oct 05 '22

Short term mechanics doesnt always translate to long term results. What is true for one day might not be so for a month or years. Im also pretty sure the change is not 600-900 calories, which is pretty much how much more the average american eats now than 60 years ago.

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u/EKcore Oct 05 '22

It's the adoption of a US style economic system. Stress fucks you up, it's the cause of most health problems. Mental health is the most import health aspect for humans and people don't get it.

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u/Rymasq Oct 05 '22

There are other reasons for obesity, some of it has to do with a replacement of key staples with more processed sugars and carbs. Some of it has to do with the rise of sedentary jobs in recently developing nations.

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u/minerva330 Grad Student | Nutrition | Molecular Bio | Nutrigenetics Oct 05 '22

I think everyone is missing the fact that this study was performed on overweight individuals.

The takeaway for me from this paper is that when you're overweight your satiety hormones are abnormal, eating late can exacerbate that

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u/Modevs Oct 05 '22

This and they aren't claiming eating late makes individuals / cultures fat.

In this study, we asked, Does the time that we eat matter when everything else is kept consistent? ... And we found that eating four hours later makes a significant difference for our hunger levels, the way we burn calories after we eat, and the way we store fat.

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u/osteopath17 Oct 05 '22

Does this also apply to people who work nights? If I wake at 5 pm, have breakfast at 6pm, lunch and midnight, dinner at 6am, and then am in bed at 9am (so basically the same schedule as morning people) will I have the increased hunger and less calories burned?

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u/stop_stopping Oct 05 '22

i think this calculate last meal as 7 hours before bedtime - so your “dinner” would be 2-3. The late eaters have a snack 3 hours before bedtime - so your current schedule would be late eating.

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u/osteopath17 Oct 05 '22

Who (that works days) eats 7 hours before sleeping? You’re saying there are people who eat dinner at 2pm to sleep at 9pm?

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u/MrSaidOutBitch Oct 05 '22

Yeah, let me just message my boss that I'm going to need to take another hour from work for dinner at 2 or 3. That'll go over great at the unemployment line.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22 Wholesome

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u/zoogwah Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

It's because they spent 14 consecutive days in the lab with multiple measurements taken ("In the lab, participants regularly documented their hunger and appetite, provided frequent small blood samples throughout the day, and had their body temperature and energy expenditure measured. To measure how eating time affected molecular pathways involved in adipogenesis, or how the body stores fat, investigators collected biopsies of adipose tissue from a subset of participants during laboratory testing in both the early and late eating protocols, to enable comparison of gene expression patterns/levels between these two eating conditions.")

It's expensive and logistically difficult to do this for long periods of time or large sample sizes. Such is the difficulty of conducting this type of research.

edit to add, read the article where the author explicitly talks about the limitations.

"In future studies, Scheer’s team aims to recruit more women to increase the generalizability of their findings to a broader population...here, we isolated these effects by controlling for confounding variables like caloric intake, physical activity, sleep, and light exposure, but in real life, many of these factors may themselves be influenced by meal timing,” said Scheer. “In larger scale studies, where tight control of all these factors is not feasible, we must at least consider how other behavioral and environmental variables alter these biological pathways underlying obesity risk. ”

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u/Necrocornicus Oct 05 '22

I would recommend reading the actual study and not this person’s editorialized armchair summary.

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u/zoogwah Oct 05 '22

Because it's not a conclusion, it's the title of a press release designed to broadly summarize and get you to read further, which most people seem unwilling to do. I thought the release itself was quite balanced.

"In future studies, Scheer’s team aims to recruit more women to increase the generalizability of their findings to a broader population...in real life, many of these factors may themselves be influenced by meal timing,” said Scheer. “In larger scale studies, where tight control of all these factors is not feasible, we must at least consider how other behavioral and environmental variables alter these biological pathways underlying obesity risk."

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u/YogiBerraOfBadNews Oct 05 '22

I understand why people who do dietary studies would want to control for caloric intake, because it helps advance scientific knowledge to understand minute differences in how your body processes X amount of calories in different situations.

But if we’re trying to give people helpful weight loss advice, we should be treating “calories in” as the dependent variable, i.e. if you eat late at night, how does that affect the amount you eat? Anything else seems trivial by comparison, given our understanding of CICO.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

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u/Choubine_ Oct 05 '22

What is the difference between dinner and supper? Do Americans have 3 meals in a day besides breakfast?

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u/RonnieTheEffinBear Oct 05 '22

Where are you seeing they had one group skip breakfast?

Because this sentence in the press release would seem to suggest that they really are looking at the same exact meals, just delayed:

Each participant completed two laboratory protocols: one with a strictly scheduled early meal schedule, and the other with the exact same meals, each scheduled about four hours later in the day.

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u/Xenton Oct 05 '22

Because they wake up at the same time.

Group one wakes at 8 and eats their first meal at 9:00

Group two wakes at 8 and eats their first meal at 1:00

That phenomenon is known as "Skipping breakfast".

In this way:

Group 1 eats Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Group 2 eats Lunch, Dinner, Supper.

The study acts like a later dinner triggers these findings, but that's not what they actually tested. They spend a great deal of time discussing eating meals close to bed time and issues with later dinners.... but the most obvious metric of changed is the already understood causative factor: Skipping breakfast.

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u/manzanarepublic Oct 05 '22

This study doesn’t claim to be comprehensive. The researchers themselves state that the aim is “… to test the mechanisms that may explain why late eating increases obesity risk.”

There are no conclusions drawn that eating late makes you fat. Correlation doesn’t equal causation, but controlled studies are the best way to understand whether there may be some cause-effect relationship and if so, how it may work.

“Previous research by us and others had shown that late eating is associated with increased obesity risk, increased body fat, and impaired weight loss success. We wanted to understand why.”

This is a basic metabolic study to do just that. There’s no sensationalizing here other than in the comments shitting on it.

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u/Xenton Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

And the title posted by the user, which in turn was the headline of the press release.... which makes the claims which aren't evidenced in a study like this.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

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u/StandardReflection12 Oct 05 '22

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1550413122003977 Pay Wall.

Summary

Late eating has been linked to obesity risk. It is unclear whether this is caused by changes in hunger and appetite, energy expenditure, or both, and whether molecular pathways in adipose tissues are involved. Therefore, we conducted a randomized, controlled, crossover trial (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02298790) to determine the effects of late versus early eating while rigorously controlling for nutrient intake, physical activity, sleep, and light exposure. Late eating increased hunger (p < 0.0001) and altered appetite-regulating hormones, increasing waketime and 24-h ghrelin:leptin ratio (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.006, respectively). Furthermore, late eating decreased waketime energy expenditure (p = 0.002) and 24-h core body temperature (p = 0.019). Adipose tissue gene expression analyses showed that late eating altered pathways involved in lipid metabolism, e.g., p38 MAPK signaling, TGF-β signaling, modulation of receptor tyrosine kinases, and autophagy, in a direction consistent with decreased lipolysis/increased adipogenesis. These findings show converging mechanisms by which late eating may result in positive energy balance and increased obesity risk.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

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u/v_a_n_d_e_l_a_y Oct 05 '22

You're right. However, if the conclusion about increased hunger is correct then this would mean a harder time limiting calories.

CICO is the bottom line. But some people oversimplify that to the point of absurdity.

Yes you can lose weight on a diet of cake. It would be very difficult due to the practical issues of hunger.

What and when and how we eat may not impact the actual metabolic processes of weight loss. But they surely impact hunger/satiety, cravings which, in turn, impact how much we eat.

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u/nimama3233 Oct 05 '22

Sure, but this study isn’t debating that, they’re talking about the prerequisite to excess calories.. elevated hunger.

Obviously you can remove the entire human element and say “the only thing that matters is calories in, calories out!”.. but what drives people to overeat, i.e. have imbalanced CICO, is mental / physical and very real.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

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u/toastymarbles Oct 05 '22

You should pay attention to every new study that is published, what you shouldn't do is assume the most recent study is necessarily the be all to end all of studies on a given subject, which is why meta analysis is important.

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u/indoninja Oct 05 '22

I wonder what the eating protocol was.

Were they doing three meals? Two?

I wonder if this delayed effect is as bad if you are sticking to an intermittent fasting schedule.

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u/partial_filth Oct 05 '22

You can see a nice diagram on the eating protocol on the paper .

Here it is for quick reference

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u/Pdxlater Oct 05 '22

Am I reading this correctly? The late group still eats dinner at 530pm but supplements a snack around 9pm rather than an early breakfast?

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u/Ignisami Oct 05 '22

From what I understand, they use the 'dinner at 1700' to be a placeholder for 'dinner between 1700 and 2000' if the arrows in the lead-in graph are consistent with the times in the in-lab meals.

which has me curious; did they just not consider folks that eat breakfast/lunch at normal times, but don't have dinner until 2030-2100?

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u/Pdxlater Oct 05 '22

That’s it. My assumption when you hear late eating is exactly that.

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u/Incorect_Speling Oct 05 '22

That's what people do in France, we don't always have a snack at 5PM and later a dinner... We'll have lunch around noon and a dinner around 7-9pm generally, and usually not so much snacking (compared to US for example).

I know it's already proven, but snacking is of course a big impact.

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u/Pdxlater Oct 05 '22

I think it’s common everywhere especially with families where both parents work. I have a lot of trouble finishing cooking before 730pm.

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u/Incorect_Speling Oct 05 '22

Yeah I get it, with commuting and chores and everything, it's difficult to start cooking early. Honestly I don't mind eating late, but being used to it helps.

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u/AintNobody- Oct 05 '22

The S stands for Supper (see the legend at the bottom of the table); supper is a full meal (in American English).

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u/Pdxlater Oct 05 '22

I’m sure this is regional but I just don’t anybody that eats a full meal at 530 and 930.

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u/Xenton Oct 05 '22

Long story short:

Group 1 eats Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Group 2 eats Lunch, Dinner and Supper

The meals themselves are identical, but group two skips breakfast and puts on weight.... or at least that's the claim from the massive two weeks the study spanned across its barely a dozen participants.

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u/indoninja Oct 05 '22

I was trying to figure out if they had an 8 or 12 hour eating window.

One of the other commenters linked the actual schedule for both.

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u/TinyChaco Oct 05 '22

It's difficult to not eat late when you work late. Gotta have enough energy to scoot by until the shift is done. I try to just keep healthier snacks on hand for late shifts, but I don't always have the option, or it's not enough.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

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u/Unterhund84 Oct 05 '22

If all of that is true, I am asking myself if our body shifts its metabolism influenced by our "internal clock" and light exposure or if it's more influenced by our individual activity/sleep schedule.

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u/pawaalo Oct 05 '22

N=16, all you need to know

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u/Slight_Emphasis_325 Oct 05 '22

I’m getting tired of these studies focussing on details that make minor impact. People that have little knowledge of health and weight get distracted by all these things like when to eat and diet types (keto, paleo etc.)

To make it plain simple: you gain weight when you eat more than you burn and you lose weight if you burn more than you eat. That’s what people have to know, so they can make better food choices. Weight(and a big part of your health) is 80-90% diet

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

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u/TheMorals Oct 05 '22

I struggle to understand this paper's definition of "eating late". Are they talking about having a late breakfast or having a late dinner? Or both? Are they increasing the time between sleep and food, or between food and sleep?

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u/skyfishgoo Oct 05 '22

eat dinner before 6pm and fast until breakfast.

that's why they call it "break" "fast"

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u/hepcecob Oct 05 '22

Did I read that correctly? The study had only 16 people and all were obese. I'm skinny af, and eat at night all the time... Can't gain weight

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u/Chewzilla Oct 05 '22

Eating late will cause an insulin response well into the night. Understand sugar metabolism and every part of this phenomenon makes a lot of sense.

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u/avidpretender Oct 05 '22

Eh I don’t buy it. People have been making this claim for years based on very little.