It’s nice when scientific research catches up with common sense.
For years, obesity experts have been telling us that losing weight is as simple as calories in v.s. calories out. But even the drunkest college co-ed knows that the calories she eats late at night after partying are going to end up as part of her Freshman 15. Even if she starves herself the rest of the day.
Human metabolism is much more complicated than calories in v.s. calories out. And science is finally catching up to this fact.
In a study presented this month at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, researchers argued that “not only the amount and type of food eaten but the time of day it is eaten is important in contributing to obesity”.
Spurred on by previous studies which showed that when mice consumed all of their calories during their inactive period they gained more weight than when they consumed the same amount of calories during their active period, the researchers chose to investigate how “certain components of the diet, such as sugar or fat, contributed to differences in weight gain during different times of the day”.
The NEW Study
In this new study, the researchers gave rats either rodent chow or chow plus either saturated fat or a sugar solution. One group was allowed to consume the diets freely whereas the other groups were only allowed to eat either the fat or sugar during their inactive period.
They found that rats consuming all of their sugar solution in the inactive period gained more weight than rats consuming all their sugar solution during the active period, even though their total caloric intake was the same. They also gained more weight than rats consuming the saturated fat solely during the inactive period. The greater body weight gain in rats consuming sugar in the inactive period was associated with less heat production.
This research suggests that there are differences in the impact sugar drinking can have on body weight gain, depending on when in the day it is consumed.
For example, when you are sitting on your butt watching late night infomercials, your body doesn’t need food and will store away the majority of the calories you inhale.
Conversely, when you just finished doing one of my super-awesome Health Habits workouts, your body is primed to re-fuel muscle glycogen and begin repairing the micro-damage you just inflicted on your muscles. As well, your hormone profiles will make it highly unlikely that your post-workout calories will be stored as fat.
That’s why my ultra-lean clients eat the majority of their calories surrounding their periods of high physical activity.
It ain’t rocket science…but maybe it doesn’t have to be.
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