“When to eat” is as important as “what to eat” for our health

what to eat

When people are busy with their work, it is easy to skip a meal or eat irregularly. Many people think that this does not matter as long as the food is health.

However, a recent research shows that eating irregularly may increase risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome. The finding is published in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.

Researchers from Vrije University Amsterdam, King’s College London, Newcastle University, and University of Surrey conducted a review to summarize global trends in time-of-day meal eating habits.

Eating irregularly, such as skipping a breakfast or delaying a lunch, may influence our internal body clock which typically follow a 24-hour cycle.

Many nutritionally related metabolic processes in the body follow a circadian pattern such as appetite, digestion and the metabolism of fat, cholesterol and glucose.

Food eating can influence internal clocks in the body, especially in the liver and intestine, whereas the central clock of the body is also regulated by the dark/light cycle which in turn can affect food intake.

So far, several studies have shown that people working shifts have an increased risk of a number of diseases including cancer, heart disease and metabolic syndrome. The main reason is the irregular dietary pattern.

One way that seems to solve the problem is eating small but frequent meals to regulate appetite and weight. Although this method has been used by many people, recent research shows that a greater number of daily meals has been linked to a greater risk of obesity.

Researchers suggest that eating regularly is important for our health. Moreover, planning calorie intakes for different meals may help control body weight.

A recent study showed that overweight and obese women who ate more calories in the morning than in the evening had greater weight loss and improved blood sugar levels.

Further studies point to the importance of the ratio of evening-to-morning energy intake, and that evening intake may affect BMI differently based on whether people are regular or irregular consumers of breakfast.

To summarize, “when to eat” is as important as “what to eat” for our body health. People who want a healthy diet should consider not only low-fat and low-sugar food but also a regular timetable for eating.

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Citation: Pot GK, et al. (2016). Meal irregularity and cardio-metabolic consequences: results from observational and intervention studies. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, June 2016. DOI: 10.1017/S0029665116000239.
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