FOR many Brits, eating late is just a part of life.
Between office working, getting to the gym and meeting friends at the pub, dinner often takes a back seat.
Yet, eating after 9pm could be doing disastrous things to our health, a study has revealed.
Those who routinely eat after 9pm and don’t leave a two hour gap between eating and sleeping are 25 per cent more likely to get cancer than those who do.
Experts from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health found that this was because your metabolism begins to slow down in the evening – but eating will make it speed up again.
This will have an impact on the body’s internal clock, known as you your circadian rhythm, which is thought to increase chances of developing prostate and breast cancer.
Previous studies have suggested that eating out of sync with your circadian rhythm can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and being overweight.
Spanish researchers looked at the diet and lifestyles of 621 patients with prostate cancer, 1,205 people with breast cancer and 2,193 people, who didn’t have cancer.
They found that those who went to sleep two or more hours after eating dinner reduced their cancer risk by 20 per cent.
Conversely, those who went to bed within two hours of eating, increased their risk of cancer by 25 per cent.
Most research into diet and cancer looks at how foods can increase or reduce your chances of developing the deadly disease.
Recently, experts found eating common carbohydrates, like bread, can increase your risk of breast cancer by 20 per cent.
Meanwhile, the popular condiment olive oil has been found to slash your risk of cancer.
It found people who had more than half a tablespoon of olive oil a day had a 17 per cent lower risk of dying from the disease.
Prof Manolis Kogevinas, who led the study, said: “If these findings are confirmed they will have profound implications on recommendations for the timing of the last main meal.
“The impact could be especially important in cultures such as those of southern Europe where people have supper late.”
Dora Romaguera, who also worked on the study, said: “Everything seems to indicate that the timing of sleep affects our capacity to metabolise food.”
She said more research is needed to added the animal data shows “profound implications for food metabolism and health”.
The findings are published in the International Journal of Cancer.
Some experts believe that by aligning your food with your circadian rhythm, you can help maximize weight loss, energy and overall health.
How to align your eating with the circadian rhythm diet
1. Eat with the sun
Experts say you should only eat only when the sun is up. This is because some scientists believe that the sun sets our circadian rhythm.
Our rhythm expects us to eat during the day when the sun is shining (because for long periods in history we also didn’t have electricity and light bulbs) and to fast during the night.
Ideally, that means there would be 12 hours between your last meal of the day and the first of the next day.
This looks a lot like intermittent fasting – which has shown to be effective for shedding the pounds.
2. Eat more early and less later
Make breakfast and lunch your biggest meals of the day, and dinner the smallest.
You should get about 75 per cent of your nutrition before 3 p.m.
3. Eat your dinner for breakfast or lunch
Try eating dinner foods for breakfast or lunch – like a bowl of pasta or some chicken with veg.
This is because eating more for breakfast will keep you more full throughout the day which means you are likely to snack less
Here is an example what a day following this diet could look like:
- For breakfast, whole-grain pasta with vegetables like broccoli or kale
- For lunch, salmon with vegetable sides like carrots
- For dinner, a big salad with assorted vegetables, walnuts and pumpkin seeds
One recent study actually refuted the idea that your metabolism is controlled by your circadian rhythm.
Scottish researchers have discovered that what time you eat has no impact on weight loss.
They found the metabolism burns just as many calories in the evening as it does in the morning.
The only benefit of eating more food in the morning is that you are left less hungry later in the day, which could mean you snack less, researchers said.