Dr. Paster: Timing of meals may aid weight loss
Weight loss. Weight loss. Weight loss.
As you can imagine I get lots of questions about how to shed those extra pounds. I do my usual song – eat fewer calories, exercise more, eat foods that are more satisfying so that you’ll eat fewer calories, toss the carbs – we’re eating way too much of them – avoid sugary drinks. Yada. Yada. Yada. You’ve heard all of that before but there are other questions that are harder to answer – such as does when you eat determine how much weight you’ll gain?
I get those questions, especially from truck drivers and constructions workers, who I seem to have in my practice. They tell me that when they get home they’re famished – so they pile on the good, the meat and potatoes, or desserts, wondering if because they’re eating it just before they go to bed if it just sits there turning into fat.
I have wondered that too, and so have some researchers publishing in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism who showed that possibly, I say “possibly” because one small study doesn’t prove anything, this may have traction. Eat late – gain weight. On to the study.
Johns Hopkins researchers took 10 men and 10 women, all healthy folks, putting them in a controlled environment – they had them sign into a lab during the afternoon so they could control what they at eat night.
Half ate dinner at 6 p.m., the other half at 10 p.m. All went to sleep at 11 p.m. All had IVs so that blood samples could be taken throughout the night without poking them.
They found that blood sugar levels were higher – throughout the entire night – in the group that ate dinner at 10 p.m. – by almost 20%. Not only that but the amount of fat that was burned while sleeping was down by 10% in the late night eating group.
Now there were individual differences, not everybody followed the same pattern, but then again there are individual differences in weight loss – not everybody followed the pattern but the then again some people seem to gain weight easily while others seem to stay the maintain their weight no matter what they do.
Now this comes after some provocative research that seems to show that partial fasting might also be associated with weight loss. Those studies seem to show that people who stopped eating from 6 p.m. until 7 a.m. were more likely to get to their desired weight than folks who ate throughout the night. That partial fasting, day in and day out, was helpful in keeping those love handles down.
I have always thought that late night snacking when you’re watching whatever it is on TV or streaming was due to the calories that you’re consuming, but I may be wrong. Perhaps it’s not just the calories but also when those calories are consumed.
My spin: Calories count, always have, always will. Too many carbs count — we seem to consume them all the time because they’re not as satisfying as protein and fat. But timing counts too. If you want to lose weight – stop eating everything, and I mean everything by 6 or 7 p.m. and that might be the secret sauce that you need to shed those pounds you’ve been looking to take off.
This column provides general health information. Always consult your personal health care provider about concerns. No ongoing relationship of any sort is implied or offered by Dr. Paster to people submitting questions. Any opinions expressed by Dr. Paster in his columns are personal and are not meant to represent or reflect the views of SSM Health.
Dr. Zorba Paster is the co-host of “Zorba Paster On Your Health,” which airs at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturdays on the Ideas Network of Wisconsin Public Radio. He practices family medicine in Oregon, Wis. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or write Wisconsin State Journal, Attn: Health Column, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI 53708.