nutrition workplace wellness

Study: It’s Not Just What You Eat, But When

As part of the nutrition awareness that well-run workplace wellness programs raise with employees, an important factor may not be just what one eats, but also when one eats.

We previously reported on a New York Times piece takes the timing question even further, suggesting one limits intake to a defined 12-hour period.

This piece references a study in Cell Metabolism, “Time-Restricted Feeding Is a Preventative and Therapeutic Intervention against Diverse Nutritional Challenges.” The study notes:

  • Time-restricted feeding (TRF) confines food access to 9–12 hr during the active phase
  • TRF is a therapeutic intervention against obesity without calorie restriction
  • TRF protects against metabolic diseases even when briefly interrupted on weekends
  • TRF is effective against high-fat, high-fructose, and high-sucrose diets

The New York Times piece concludes: “The upshot: Contain your eating to 12 hours a day or less. And pay attention to when you begin. The clock starts, [states Satchidananda Panda, an associate professor at the Salk Institute who oversaw the studies], with “that first cup of coffee with cream and sugar in the morning.”

Now MedPage Today reports that “a small study presented here suggests that routinely eating meals late in the day or at night also increases obesity risk independent of how much sleep people get.”

“After controlling for sleep duration, the laboratory study involving healthy volunteers found that compared to eating during the daytime, prolonged eating that began at noon and went as late as 11 p.m. was associated with weight gain, increases in insulin and cholesterol levels, and impaired fat metabolism.”

Namni Goel, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, presented the study at SLEEP 2017, the joint annual meeting of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

In terms of workplace behavior, the study’s lesson seems to be: Manage your diet with balanced nutrition during the day, rather than putting off food intake until later in the day.

MedPage Today continues that “Goel told MedPage Today that the study provides some of the first experimental evidence that prolonged delayed eating promotes weight gain and a negative profile for fuel oxidation, energy metabolism, and hormonal markers, in normal weight adults.