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Put Down the Midnight Burger and Listen Up

Update Date: Jun 09, 2017 09:41 AM EDT

Eating during the day instead of at night can help you feel fuller longer.

A new study by researchers at the Perleman School of Medicine at The University of Pennsylvania found that eating during the day helps the body produce a hormone that stimulates your appetite to reduce your cravings for a snack late at night.

Researchers instructed 18 subjects to eat only between 8am and 7pm over an 8-week period. Then the study instructed participants for another 8 weeks to eat between noon and 11pm. As a control, subjects were instructed to sleep between 11pm and 9am. What the study found was that when subjects ate late at night, their weight increased and so did their levels of glucose, insulin and cholesterol. 

Namni Goel, lead author of the study, said: "These early findings, which control for sleep, give a more comprehensive picture of the benefits of eating earlier in the day."

"Eating later can promote a negative profile of weight, energy and hormone markers such as higher glucose and insulin, which are implicated in diabetes, and cholesterol and triglycerides, which are linked with cardiovascular problems and other health conditions," added Goel. 

In addition to promoting heart disease and diabetes, eating late can affect your memory, make you have weird dreams, and increase the risk of heart attack.

"We must define the ideal frequency and timing of meals because how we eat may be as important as what we eat," said cardiologist Dr Ebru Özpelit.

Researchers found that eating late at night has even more adverse affects on the heart than eating a high salt diet. 

Eating late at night can also be a key contributor to acid reflux. Most drugs for acid reflux have dangerous side effects and scientists classify the condition as one best addressed through lifestyle changes. Those who eat earlier in the evening and do not go to sleep within 2 hours of eating see their acid reflux problem dissipate considerably. It takes your stomach a few hours to digest a meal. During digestion, your stomach produces acids to help break down food. When you go to sleep shortly after eating, these acids can spill out into your esophagus and cause heart burn, also known as acid reflux. 

Late eating can also lead to hunger due to insulin the pancreas produces after a meal. This can lead to weight gain because you will wake up feeling hungrier which can lead to overeating. 

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