Snacking late at night, gobbling breakfast before your early morning commute--with
our fast-paced lives, it's easy to end up eating at odd times during
the day outside the pattern of three to five daily meals. But a recent
pilot study says that it could pay health-wise to stick to a more normal
eating schedule, especially at night.
"Nighttime fasting applies to the period of time between your last
meal at night and your first one in the morning," says
Malini Kethireddy, MD, a family medicine physician at
St. Mary High Desert Medical Group. "Normally you are asleep during much of that time. But a longer
period of nighttime fasting, say 12 to 14 hours between meals, could have
a beneficial effect, and to get that, you need to adhere to regular eating
A recent study from the University of California, San Diego suggests that
a longer nighttime fast may reduce the risk of diabetes and breast cancer
in women. "The researchers say that's because glucose levels
in the blood are lower after a long nighttime fast. High blood sugar levels
are a problem because they can contribute to diabetes and breast cancer,"
Dr. Kethireddy says.
The report's authors also noted that nighttime fasting had a secondary
effect: The women whose data was reviewed as part of the study and said
they fasted at least 12 hours between their evening and morning meals
ate less calories throughout the day; and, they didn't eat as much
food overall compared to women whose fasting period was shorter. "This
could point to long nighttime fasting as a way to help control weight,"
Dr. Kethireddy says.
If you're not taking enough time to fast overnight, Dr. Kethireddy
recommends eating at regular periods throughout the day and not consuming
as many of your daily calories at night. "Eating well-balanced meals
of lean protein, healthy fats and carbs, with plenty of fruits and vegetables,
throughout the day can keep you feeling full, which could help you avoid
snacking in the evening," Dr. Kethireddy says.
St. Mary High Desert Medical Group. Learn about
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