Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2020. Vol 105(8), 27892802. doi: https://doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgaa354
The authors performed a randomized crossover trial of Late Dinner (22:00 hours) vs Routine Dinner (18:00) in a laboratory setting in 20 healthy adult volunteers. Meal contents and sleep period (23:00-07:00) were kept the same in both arms and sleep patterns were unaffected. Late Dinner increased postprandial glucose levels, lowered FFA and dietary fatty acid oxidation, and delayed the triglyceride peak.
Beyond the simple balance of energy in vs. energy out, there is increasing interest in lifestyle patterns that alter our risk of excess weight gain possibly by altering the physiological processes that handle nutrient metabolism. Other studies have suggested adverse effects of skipping breakfast, balance of calories between morning and evening, and periods of intermittent fasting despite isocaloric conditions. A particular advantage of the current study is that they could control for sleep time and sleep architecture by collecting data via movement sensors and polysomnography.
The findings support the existence of circadian mechanisms in the control of metabolism, which deserves further study. The authors also warn that the metabolic pattern induced by Late Dinners, i.e. higher overnight glucose intolerance and lower fat mobilization and oxidation, may increase the risks of obesity and the metabolic syndrome.