We’re sure that at some point you’ve been told not to eat any later than 6pm at night for various health reasons – but how much truth is there in this?
One of the main reasons for all the panic around evening eating surrounds weight gain, but thanks to the preliminary findings of a new study, the fat-shaming statement can shove off.
According to the Telegraph, Professor Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, has been tracking the eating habits of 80,000 users of the Zoe Health Study app to see what impact the timing of meals actually had on participants’ health and weight.
Participants were asked to eat during a self-selected ten-hour window that best suited their lifestyles (this is the key bit) as a form of intermittent fasting.
Although the findings are still being analysed, the preliminary results have suggested that eating a meal as late as 9.30pm might not mess with your metabolic health as much as first thought.
Sarah Berry, associate professor in nutrition at King’s College London and chief scientist at Zoe Health explained : “We know that when people stick to a time restricted eating (TRE) window they unintentionally reduce their daily calorie intake by an average of 300, which obviously helps with weight loss, but even when there are no changes in calorie intake TRE seems to produce improvements in metabolic health, which makes it very worthwhile.”
So the best time to eat at night for metabolic health is... whenever best suits you as long as you stick to a fasting window of 14 hours.
Berry added: “In everyday life a 6pm cut-off is just not practical. There is evidence to suggest finishing your meals by 8pm is favourable — and more manageable — for metabolic and weight-loss effects, although that is not set in stone.”
However, it’s worth factoring in when you eat on both sides of the time window if you do tend to eat late – for instance, if you are a 9.30pm diner, breakfast won’t be until 11.30am the next day.