When it comes to the logistics of losing weight, calories are undoubtedly a grey area with some fitness fanatics refusing to count the stats while others strictly adhere to the ‘no carbs after 6pm’ rule.
But it seems we may finally have some answers.
A recent study conducted by scientists at Harvard Medical School, Pennsylvania State University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital discovered that our bodies burn more calories during certain times of the day.
According to findings, participants burned 10% more calories in the late afternoon and early evening in comparison to the morning.
The even greater news? We combat these calories during periods of rest. Bring on those lazy Sunday afternoon naps!
The new research supports the correlation between metabolism and our body clock – which determines when we sleep, wake up and eat.
On the revelation, lead author Kirsi-Marja Zitting said: “The fact that doing the same thing at one time of day burned so many more calories than doing the same thing at a different time of day surprised us.”
The experiment took place over a 37-day period and was admittedly a small operation with only seven participants. The study – which was published in Current Biology – took place in a lab without windows, clocks, phones or the Internet so that those involved would have no concept of time.
They were told when to go to bed and when to wake-up and every night those times were adjusted four hours later – this ensured that participants travelled across four time zones each day.
Jeanne Duffy from the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital told Live Science: “Because they were doing the equivalent of circling the globe every week, their body’s internal clock could not keep up.”
With no visual indication of the time, each participant was reduced to running on a biological clock which the experts measured against their metabolic rate.
Results showed that each participant’s metabolic rates were at their lowest at night and highest around 12 hours later in the early afternoon-turned-evening.
This slow increase in calorie burning throughout the day is equivalent to approximately 130 extra calories.
But before you text your PT asking for an afternoon slot, Duffy emphasises that the small study only examined changes in metabolic rate while people are at rest.
However, she does recommend avoiding snacking during the time frame when calorie-burning is at its lowest.
“Let’s say we get up an hour or two hours early and eat breakfast an hour or two hours early,” she told Time. “We may be eating that breakfast not only at a time when our body might not be prepared to deal with it, but at a time when we need less energy to maintain our functions. Therefore, the same breakfast might result in extra stored calories, because we don’t need those to maintain our body functions.”
Does this justify our weekend lie-in?
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