Timing meals

All Woman

Dear Donovan,

How important is timing when I eat? Should I eat breakfast? Will eating at night make me fat, as is often said?

As a nutritionist, I have realised that the time of day we eat, what we eat, the amount we eat, how we eat, whom we eat with, and even our emotional state when we are eating are important to our health, metabolism, energy and weight. Recent studies are emerging to show that the time of day we eat might be more important than previously thought. In a weight loss study with two groups of people eating the same amount of calories but with one group eating more calories in the morning while the other group ate more calories in the night, it was shown that the group which ate more calories in the morning lost more weight.

Our bodies seem to metabolise food better at certain times of the day. Breakfast is often described as the most important meal of the day because it provides calories and nutrients for whatever activities will come throughout the day. However, the time of day that you start eating may be based on a number of factors — cultural, age, health and lifestyle.

For children, studies have shown that eating a meal first thing in the morning has a positive influence on their cognitive performance in school. This is especially true of task-related behaviours, and for students younger than 18. However, for older people a number of factors might determine how early the first meal is taken. For example, if you ate a big meal in the night you might not be hungry at breakfast time. In addition, if you are diabetic or have chronic health problems it might be best to eat something in the morning. Also, if you exercise in the morning eating breakfast could be a way to replenish calories and water.

If breakfast is not eaten there may be a tendency to overeat at later meals. This sometimes tends to happen with late night eaters. I must tell you that some studies have suggested a number of connections between late night eating and weight gain. It as been shown that late night eating throws off the sleep cycle which can lead to weight gain. In addition, the appetite regulating hormone is better regulated in the daytime.

It is therefore easier to prevent overeating in the day than at night. The extra calories that we eat at night mainly goes for storage as fat. However, I should point out that if you have to eat later than 8:00 pm it might be better to have healthier options, example low sugar fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products, etc. This might be necessary for those who work at night or even exercise at night.

Overall, be careful with late night eating and what you eat.

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com .




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