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Does Eating Late Make You Put On Weight?

We’ve all heard the claim that being ‘nil-by-mouth’ after 5pm helps you to lose weight, but is this really true?

Well, yes it is and here I’ll explain why and how eating later could be jeopardising your weight loss progress.


Reason #1: Artificial light causes insulin resistance

New research has shown that blue and green light, from devices and bright lighting, lead to chronically elevated stress hormone levels.

We should start the day with high cortisol that gradually decreases over the course of the day. Exposure to light in the evenings scews this pattern.

Chronically elevated cortisol is also associated with storage of fat around the middle and insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is a state where your body is less responsive to the effects of insulin, meaning that you need more insulin to do the job of moving glucose into your cells.

Insulin is your fat storage hormone and therefore elevated insulin levels are not desirable!

Once the sun has gone down, you switch on artificial lighting and I think it’s safe to assume that most people are eating dinner in front of the TV or some sort of blue-light-emitting device.

Essentially, exposure to light when you’re supposed to be in darkness disrupts your circadian rhythm (your sleep-wake cycle) by increasing your stress hormone levels in the evening. We’ve known for a while that this affects sleep quality and duration, and that itself downregulates metabolism, but now we’re learning that this exposure to blue light also directly and immediately increases insulin resistance.

In light (pun not intended) of this recent research, eating during the hours of daylight may reduce insulin resistance and therefore aid your weight loss efforts.


Reason #2: The later you eat the shorter your fast

If you’ve read much of my content before, you’ll know that I’m big on fasting. The list of health and weight loss benefits are long.

I like my clients to have a minimum overnight fast (gap between dinner and breakfast) of at least 12 hours. During a fast, your blood sugar and insulin level decreases, allowing your body to move into fat-burning mode.

Ideally, this overnight fast should regularly last longer and sometimes it works well for people to have just two meals per day; so long as those meals are really nutrient-dense and balanced.

The later you eat, the shorter this overnight fast is and the less time you’ll spend in fat-burning mode (unless you delay breakfast).


Reason #3: The later you eat the less time you have to burn off carbs

For the majority, dinner involves starchy carbohydrates; potato, pasta, rice, bread, grains etc. Carbohydrates break down into glucose and are absorbed into the bloodstream and then into the cells for energy production.

Here’s the thing. In the evenings most people are pretty sedentary. There’s not a lot of energy being burned off after dinner. The earlier you eat, the more opportunity your body has to use any carbohydrates, that you ate at dinner, to make energy.

The later you eat, the more chance there is that your cells will be converting that glucose into fat for storage because you just don’t need the energy.


Summary Take home tips

Whilst not everyone that eats late will pile on the pounds, if you’re struggling to lose weight or reverse type-2 diabetes then it’s worth trying the following steps:

  1. When practical, avoid eating after dark
  2. Do not eat in front of a device like the TV or your phone
  3. After the sun has gone down, wear glasses that block blue light.
  4. If you have to eat late have a low-carb meal
  5. Eating two meals per day is perfectly okay and is often a helpful strategy for weight loss.

Sources:

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0155601

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3602916/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3107005/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3686562/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180604172736.htm

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waist circumference matters

Why Your Waist Circumference Matters

You want to ditch your scale, don’t you?

You may have this weird kind of relationship with your “weight”.  

I mean, it doesn’t define you (obviously).

What you weigh can matter but only to a certain extent.

Let’s look at your waist circumference (well…you look at yours and I’ll look at mine).

 

Waist Circumference (AKA “Belly Fat”):

Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”?  The apple is kinda round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, kinda beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.

THAT is what we’re talking about here.

Do you know which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases).

Yup – that apple!

And it’s not because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top”.  The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs there.

This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that’s where a lot of the problem actually is.  It’s this “un-pinchable” fat.

The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.

And the apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.

So as you can see where your fat is stored is more important that how much you weigh.

 

Am I an apple or a pear?

It’s pretty simple to find out if you’re in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way is to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape. You can do it right now.

Women, if your waist is 35” or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and be in the higher risk category.  Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course.

For men the number is 40”.

Of course this isn’t a diagnostic tool.  There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases.  Waist circumference is just one of them.

If you have concerns definitely see your doctor.

 

Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:

  • Eat more fibre.  Fibre can help reduce belly fat in a few ways.  First of all it helps you feel full and also helps to reduce the amount of calories you absorb from your food.  Some examples of high-fibre foods are Brussels sprouts, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and blackberries.
  • Add more protein to your day.  Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer.  It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.
  • Nix added sugars.  This means ditch the processed sweetened foods especially those sweet drinks (even 100% pure juice).
  • Move more.  Get some aerobic exercise.  Lift some weights. Walk and take the stairs.  It all adds up.
  • Stress less.  Seriously! Elevated levels in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive abdominal fat.
  • Get more sleep.  Try making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel (and look).

Recipe (High fibre side dish): Garlic Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts (washed, ends removed, halved)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • dash salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 200C.  

In a bowl toss sprouts with garlic, oil, and lemon juice.  Spread on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for about 15 minutes.  Toss.

Bake for another 10 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip:  Brussels sprouts contain the fat-soluble bone-loving vitamin K.  You may want to eat them more often.

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Hormone imbalance is a problem I see frequently in my clinic. Whilst many associate hormone imbalance with women and PMS, it’s also something that affects men. Hormone imbalance can cause weight gain in both men and women. Not a week goes by where I don’t have someone sitting in my clinic telling me how they eat really well and exercise everyday and still can’t lose weight. Whilst there are lots of factors that could be playing a role, sex hormone balance is a common and complicated one. This recipe is easy, comforting and delicious, but also fabulous for supporting hormone balance.

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