A new study (May, 2015) in the International Journal of Obesity investigated the relationship between meal times and several factors known to be involved in maintaining a healthy weight (including: blood sugar levels, carbohydrate metabolism, resting energy expenditure and levels of certain hormones).

Key points:
The regularity of meal times may influence body weight and blood sugar control. The impact of irregular meal times on weight maintenance occurs both if a person has a drastic change in their eating pattern (for instance overnight shift workers who switch sleep/wake cycles) and if there are small changes in a person’s normal daytime eating schedule (for instance delaying the timing of a meal).

Why does this occur?
There appear to be multiple factors why eating meals at inconsistent times could impact weight. They include:

  • Decreased resting energy expenditure
  • Decreased burning of carbohydrates
  • Decreased glucose tolerance
  • Decreased thermic effect of food (i.e. the amount of energy used to digest, absorb, distribute and store nutrients from food)
  • Change in cortisol levels (cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands that influences several metabolic activities of the body)

Take home message:
Meet with a Naturopathic Doctor to put together a plan regarding eating times and what foods to eat when, as eating healthy foods at regular intervals is important for maintaining a healthy weight.

Graham Beaton is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Ottawa. For more information on weight loss, healthy eating or Naturopathic Medicine, please call 613-290-6115.