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It’s the stuff of TV sitcoms: Characters meet in the kitchen for a midnight snack or someone looks longingly into the fridge for a random turkey leg or the last slice of pepperoni pizza. (It’s always better cold, right?) But so-called night eating syndrome can seriously compromise to your waistline and overall health.
Although night eating syndrome occurs in about 2% of the total population, those numbers rise among more specific segments. About 9% to 14% of clients seeking treatment at obesity clinics suffer from it. One study of depressed clients at an outpatient clinic found that 12% took in a majority of their calories in the evening hours.
Why the Midnight Madness?
The origins of this condition, in which sufferers eat 25% or more of their total daily calories after dinner, aren’t firmly established. Some researchers believe it’s a self-medicating technique to deal with depression. In any case, the downsides are clear:
The Downside of a Fashionably Late Lunch
It makes a difference: A study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in collaboration with the University of Murcia and Tufts University, looked at 420 overweight study participants over a 20-week period, divided into two groups—those who ate lunch before 3 p.m., and those who had their midday meal after this time.
Both groups consumed roughly 40 percent of their daily calories during lunch. However, the report revealed that the early eaters lost significantly more weight during the study than late eaters.
Plan Your Carbs Carefully
Nutrient timing is also important for supporting an exercise program. What you consume before, during and after your workout can have significant impacts on your fitness gains. For example, consuming carb-dense, starchy foods in the three hours after a workout takes advantage of the body’s efficient use of those nutrients during that window of time—and the earlier in the day you consume those carbs, the better.
Today’s takeaway: Think carefully not only about what you’re eating, but also when you’re eating it. Timing your food consumption along with your workout routine can help you supercharge your fitness results.
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