One of the oldest and most wise Ayurvedic recommendations is to have supper early and to avoid eating late in the evening.
A new 2017 study from the University of Pennsylvania has confirmed this ancient wisdom!
In this study, 9 healthy individuals underwent two different meal-time conditions for 8 weeks each:
First 8-week period: They ate three meals and two snacks between 8am and 7pm – a DAYTIME eating condition.
There was a 2-week “wash-out” period in between the daytime and nighttime meal plans.
Second 8-week period: They ate three meals and two snacks eating between 12pm and 11pm – a DELAYED or LATE eating condition.
The results confirmed the ancient wisdom…
When You Eat Late, You Are More Susceptible to:
The researchers found that during the late eating condition, the individuals gained more weight compared to during the daytime eating condition.
Slower Fat Metabolism
The team also found that during the late eating condition, the ratio of carbon dioxide produced by the body was higher than the oxygen consumed by the body – suggesting that when one eats later rather than earlier, they burn less fat at night.
Breakfast or the “breaking of a fast” is named after a long night of fat burning, which does not happen with late eating.
Negative Metabolic Profiles
They also found that late eating raised insulin, fasting blood sugars, cholesterol and triglycerides compared to daytime eating.
Imbalanced Timing of Hunger Hormones
In addition, ghrelin (the hunger hormone), peaked in the middle of the day in the daytime eaters, and leptin (the satiety hormone) peaked later in the day – suggesting that midday eating triggers an earlier hormone request for hunger and a long-lasting satiety or energy supply.
With earlier hunger cues and lasting leptin levels, the desire for nighttime eating and snacking naturally wanes.
As I mentioned above, this is a 5000-year-old Ayurvedic concept. If you eat as nature intended, which is bigger meals in the middle of the day, you will feel less hunger later on and will only need a small supper –which, interestingly, comes from the word “soup” or “supplemental.”
Having less food in the stomach at night also allows cortisol levels to drop in the early evening. This occurrence, in addition to the setting sun, darkness and the production of melatonin, allows us to get to sleep earlier, more quickly, and provides a deeper, more productive and nourishing sleep.