According to a new study presented at the ECOICO or European and International Conference on Obesity 2020, having a healthy diet is linked to how late you eat most of the food in the day.
Scientists found that those who eat most of the calories during the night tend to have lower quality diets and eat more calories.
The main goal of this research was to find out the link between diet quality and calorie consumption at night. The study was conducted by a group of scientists led by a researcher from Ulster University.
Previous studies have identified that hunger tends to follow a daily rhythm. Though we often stop eating during a period of sleep, most of us tend to start with the smallest meal of the day.
At the same time, hunger can be strongest at a later time in the day. This sensation would peak at around 8 p.m. once most people have finished most daily tasks.
The study analyzed data from a survey by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of the UK. It included detailed information about nutritional status, nutrient intake, and food consumption in people over 18 months old. There was a total of 1,177 participants between 2012 and 2017.
In general, scientists identified that, on average, the participants ate around 40 percent of the daily calories after 6 p.m.
More specifically, they broke down the group into quartiles based on the ration of the daily calories consumed after 6 p.m. In the lowest part, people ate less than 31.5 percent of the calories at night, while people in the highest part consumed more than 48.5 percent around this time of the day.
The study identified two noticeable trends. First, eating later would affect the total calories for the day.
In addition, the timing of the meal would affect the quality and nutritional contents of food. In other words, those who ate most of the calories at night tend to have considerably lower quality diets.
The findings indicate that taking in a low number of calories at night might be linked to a lower intake of daily energy. Also, eating a high number of calories at night might be linked to a lower quality diet.
This study can provide more understandings of the food quality and the effect of daily food rhythms.