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Eating a Late Meal May Be Harmful To Your Metabolic Health, Particularly For Early Birds

People have anecdotally claimed that the timing of a meal may affect metabolism, but there isn’t much solid evidence in support. To see how timing of eating influences metabolism, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers studied 20 healthy volunteers by giving them a meal at a traditional hour (6 p.m.) or a meal at a later time of the day (10 p.m.). They found that when people ate later, they had higher spikes in blood sugar, slower fat breakdown and even increases in the stress hormone cortisol, believed to be a factor in promoting weight gain. When they looked more closely at different responses to the late meal, they found that people who normally went to bed early — so-called “early birds” — experienced an even bigger impact from eating late.

In their findings published on June 11, 2020, in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, the researchers say eating late could promote obesity if these conditions happen often enough.

Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism

“What time you eat could be just as important as what you


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