Many people are known to have late-night cravings.  Now, there is an explanation as to why these cravings exist.  The reason dates back to our early ancestors, who  experienced increased hunger and cravings for sweet, starchy and salty foods in the evening.

It all has to do with our circadian rhythm, which is our body’s 24-hour regulating system influenced by night and day, light and dark.  Scientists believe that many centuries ago, during our ancestors’ time, food was one of the main sources of fuel and heat.   During sleep, the food that was consumed in the late evening was necessary for warmth and survival.  That need no longer exists today.

Some scientists believe that our genes have not caught up with today’s dietary needs, and our circadian rhythm could be a contributing factor in the increased levels of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

In a recent study, senior author Steven Shea, Ph.D., director for the Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology at Oregon Health & Science University, noted that the time someone eats can contribute to weight gain, much like other factors. 

Along with sleep cycles, the internal circadian system also regulates hunger.  In the study’s test group, people felt the least hungry in the morning and the most hungry in the evening.  The research revealed that people who ate high-calorie foods and beverages in the evening were more likely to be overweight or obese. Researchers also found that late-night eating can influence weight gain, as your body processes nutrients differently depending on the time of day they are consumed.  Their study concluded that eating too many calories at the end of the day led to increased food storage in our bodies.  When that energy isn’t burned for fuel, we can gain weight.   

The study also found that artificial light contributes to weight gain because it allows people to stay up later and encourages late-night eating.  If you go to bed late, you tend to eat more high-calorie foods, which are stored as energy. In his conclusion, Professor Shea recommended that people go to bed earlier, get enough sleep and choose lower-calorie snacks at night.  These tips, he said, along with other healthy lifestyle habits will prevent weight gain.  




Atención médica que piensa en usted

Con centros de excelencia reconocidos a nivel internacional, 12 hospitales, más de 27,000 empleados, 4,000 médicos y 200 centros ambulatorios, de atención de urgencias y consultorios médicos en los condados de Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward y Palm Beach, Baptist Health es una institución emblemática en las comunidades del sur de Florida en las que prestamos servicios. 

Language Preference / Preferencia de idioma

I want to see the site in English

Continue In English

Quiero ver el sitio en Español

Continuar en español