Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nighttime Grub Puts On The Chub

Now that summer is officially wrapped up and the cooler weather is rolling in, we can take the focus off of such summer-related themes as mosquito control and put it back on to another one of America's most pressing concerns regardless of season: eating.

In my hypnosis practice, I see plenty of clients for issues concerning weight and overeating. In fact, it's my number one business (yes, I finally found a way to avoid saying that it's my biggest business, so I don't have to pull the ol' "no pun intended" bit which is getting corny and trite). Most people who have weight problems invariably are snackers, and more often than not, they are nighttime snackers, meaning they are snacking an hour or two after dinner, or just before bedtime. My clients often don't realize how big (there it is again) of a factor night snacking is with regards to weight gain. Yet when they do a session with me and are able to eliminate night snacking from their daily life, they suddenly lose 2-4 pounds (and sometimes more) the very first week! This is so often the case, that I can now guarantee that eliminating night snacking is the quickest way to start losing weight naturally; more so than eliminating daytime snacking, more so than portion control at meal times, and more so than exercise.

And so of course I love it when a study comes along that scientifically validates my own very unscientific observations. We live in a society wants to see proof before believing anything. So here's the proof: An article I came across in WebMD details the correlation between eating at the wrong time of the day and putting on weight. One study was done in mice (which I don't condone, but it proves my point nonetheless) which were divided into two groups. Both groups were fed the same diet, but one group was fed during the normal waking time, and the other group was fed at the time when mice should be sleeping. The mice who ate at the wrong time gained more than twice as much weight as the mice who were fed at the right time.

A second study was done on humans. 94 people, 29 of whom were night eaters and 65 of whom were not, were followed for 3.5 years. The night eaters gained 13.6 lbs, and the non-night eaters gained only 3.7 pounds. What a difference!

The researchers wouldn't say for sure why the mice (or the people) who ate at the wrong time gained so much weight, because that would require another study. Considering the pace of medical research, I'd check back on that in, oh, two or three years for an answer.

But in the meantime, allow me to speculate: During the time of day when a creature - any creature whether it be a human, mouse, armadillo or hippopotamus - is supposed to be sleeping, the metabolism slows way down. Eating at those times means that the calories from food will not be metabolized, but will instead need to be stored. And storage of calories occurs by producing fat. So for us, eating at night goes against our natural circadian rhythm and results in our bodies not knowing what to do with those calories other than storing them by putting fat on our bodies, which results in undesirable weight gain. Not bad for an unscientific yet logical explanation, no?

Or perhaps you need to hear it from an actual scientist with a PhD from an accredited institution. Arlene D. Salbe, PhD, a senior research fellow at the Kronos Longevity Research Institute says very elegantly, "Eating too much late at night is not good."

And so there you have it. A scientific principle is born. It's good to know that our tax dollars and donations go towards those types of profound conclusions, isn't it?

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