Is Fasting Truly Better At Night?

Proceed with caution as the result may shock you.

Fasting is becoming more and more known nowadays, but due to some people's restricting schedule, we are forced to answer the question. When is the right time to avoid eating?

A study conducted by Carl Johnson, professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt University and postgraduate tested this by monitoring the metabolism of middle-aged and older adults in a whole-room respiratory chamber, under controlled conditions, over two separate 56-hour sessions—both with the same overnight fasting period. 

“Our research looked to test the findings of existing fasting studies by asking real humans to participate in a multi-day test for two different mealtime routines. What we found is that the body’s circadian rhythms regulate nighttime fat burning,” says Prof. Carl Johnson.

At the end of the study, they concluded that while the two sessions did not differ in the amount of food eaten or the amount of physical activity of the participants, the daily timing of nutrient availability coupled with the body’s increased metabolism during sleep (thanks to the body’s circadian rhythms) flipped a switch on fat burning: In each instance, late-evening snacking delayed the body’s ability to target fat stores for energy and instead caused the body to target the readily accessible carbohydrates newly introduced into the body.

“The late-evening snack session resulted in fewer lipids oxidized than in the breakfast session,” says Kelly. “This confirms that the timing of meals during the daytime and nighttime cycle affects how ingested food is used versus stored and that any food ingested prior to bedtime will delay the burning of fat during sleep.”


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