PORTLAND - Do you ever wonder why your craving for sweet and salty snacks seems to increase at night?
An OHSU researcher is part of a new study suggesting your evening munchies may be tied to a rhythm in your internal body clock.
“The rhythm that we’ve uncovered may well contribute to the epidemic of obesity,” explained Dr. Steven Shea. “It’s groundbreaking.”
Shea collaborated with colleagues at Harvard and Brigham and Women’s in Boston. A dozen patients were watched round the clock for 13 days.
“They were in a specialized suite where we controlled light which helped us regulate their body clocks,” he said.
The study determined that at about 8 p.m., our desire for sweet and salty snacks increases and it’s tied to evolution.
“At one time, we needed to store up on fats at night so we were ready to go out and hunt and gather in the morning, but that’s not the case anymore.”
The rhythm in our body clock or circadian system can make it challenging to drop weight.
“After looking at these results, it tells me if you want to lose weight you should probably go to bed earlier,” Shea recommended. “That way you’re sleeping during those dangerous hours.”
He points to Sumo wrestlers as a good example. The successful ones, he says, depend on heavy eating of salty, starchy foods at night.
“So if you want to lose weight, do the opposite, eat heavier in the morning hours and lighter in the evening,” concluded the OHSU researcher.