Our biological clock is a system that controls a lot more than our sleep. It also contributes to our metabolism, which is exactly why we are told time and time again to eat more in the morning and opt for lighter meals in the evening if we want to lose weight. However, recent research also expanded on this general knowledge, establishing that late meals are associated with increased inflammation, which typically goes away when a person ascribes to a strict meal schedule with lighter evening meals.
But inflammation and weight gain aren’t even the worst things that can happen if you eat the most in the evenings, at least for women. According to recent research, heavy evening meals increase women's risk of heart disease.
The study has been conducted at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York, and its primary goal was to find out whether the timing of meals affects women’s cardiovascular health. The study was based on previous observations that established an increased level of inflammatory markers associated with heart disease and diabetes in participants who opted for heavy evening meals.
The hypothesis was that high caloric intake in the evening may increase one’s risk of suffering from heart disease. 112 female patients with an average age of 33 were recruited in the study. To assess the patients’ cardiovascular disease risks, the researchers measured the patients’ blood sugar levels, blood pressure, activity levels, smoking, diet, and weight.
Then, the researchers asked the patients to record their meals in a diary for a full year, and after 12 months, the same measurements were taken once again. Based on the information from the diaries, researchers attempted to established a relationship between mealtime and meal caloric value with cardiovascular risk.
The results show a systematic increase in cardiovascular risks in women who have high-calorie evening meals, with each 1% increase in caloric intake after 6 PM and 8 PM affecting one’s cardiovascular health. These published results are part of a bigger study that’s yet to be published, but already, we can see how a small lifestyle change like mealtime can affect our overall wellbeing by leaps and bounds.
The bottom line is that women would most likely all benefit from lighter evening meals, not only for weight loss but also for maintaining heart health.