A new small-scale American study has suggested that eating dinner late in the evening could increase the risk of gaining weight.
Carried out by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the new study recruited 10 men and 10 women, all healthy, and asked them to eat dinner at two different times – 6pm and 10pm – before going to bed in the lab at 11pm.
The participants ate the same number of calories in both the meals, and the researchers recorded the participants’ levels of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, cortisol and other markers in the evening and the next morning.
The findings, published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, showed that when participants ate dinner later at 10pm, their blood sugar levels were higher and the amount of fat burned was lower, even when the meal was the same as the one eaten at 6pm.
“On average, the peak glucose level after late dinner was about 18% higher and the amount of fat burned overnight decreased by about 10%, compared to eating an earlier dinner.
“The effects we have seen in healthy volunteers might be more pronounced in people with obesity or diabetes, who already have a compromised metabolism,” said the study’s first author Dr Gu Chenjuan.