A recent study (October 2020) conducted in Spain shows clear evidence that late night eating is correlated with worse cardiometabolic outcomes. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and titled “Late eating is associated with cardiometabolic risk traits, obesogenic behaviors, and impaired weight loss.”
The purpose of the study was “to determine whether late eating is cross-sectionally associated with obesity and cardiometabolic risk factors at baseline; and whether late eating is associated with weight loss rate and success following a weight loss intervention protocol. Also, to identify obesogenic behaviors and weight loss barriers associated with late eating.”
Study participants were recruited from a Spanish weight-loss program. The researchers determined individual midpoints of meal intake so they could stratify the data between late night eaters vs. early eaters. In addition, the researchers took fasted blood samples to get various cardiometabolic and satiety hormonal profiles. They also measured weekly weight loss and evaluated barriers to weight loss across the span of 19 weeks (study duration). Linear and logistic regression models were used to assess the differences between the late and early eaters across “cardiometabolic traits, satiety hormones, obesogenic behaviors, and weight loss, adjusted for age, sex, clinic site, year of recruitment, and baseline BMI.”
Firstly important to note is that there were no major differences in caloric intake or physical activity levels among the two cohorts. Here are the major observations:
- Late eaters had higher BMI
- Late eaters had higher concentrations of triglycerides
- Late eaters had lower insulin sensitivity
- Late eaters had higher concentrations of the satiety hormone leptin (hunger suppression) in the morning
- Late eaters had an average 80 g lower weekly rate of weight loss
- Late eaters had a higher probability of having weight-loss barriers
- Late eaters had a lower probability of motivation for weight loss compared with early eaters
The study results suggest that late eating is “associated with cardiometabolic risk factors and reduced efficacy of a weight-loss intervention.” This study is consistent with many other studies and also general common knowledge. Late night eating is not a good thing when it comes to weight loss or long-term health.
Yet late night eating is very common for many people. If this is a problem for you, my best recommendation is to hire a coach, nutritionist or dietician to help you with strategies to conquer this habit.