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Why Having a Heavy Lunch and Light Dinner Promotes Weight Loss

Update Date: Feb 22, 2013 12:38 PM EST
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Having a heavy lunch and a light dinner may be the key to losing weight, according to new research.

Researchers found that the body's ability to use up sugar varies throughout the day, depending on the body's circadian rhythm.

Researchers studied mice and found that if the body clock is disturbed, it can easily gain weight.  The study suggests that people could lose weight if they ate their meals according to the way their body clock responds throughout the day, meaning that lunch should be the largest meal of the day and dinner the lightest.  Researchers also say that snacks after dinner should be avoided.

Researchers Professor Carl Johnson of Vanderbilt University in Nashville and his team measured levels of insulin, a hormone in the body that plays an important role in converting sugar in food to energy.

Researchers found that there was a clear pattern in the amount of insulin the body throughout the day, with the mice finding it harder to deal with sugar at night when they'd usually be asleep.

However, when researchers revealed that animals whose body clock went haywire would have difficulty converting sugar throughout the day.  Researchers found that these mice also put on significantly more weight than mice with normal body clocks, according to the study published in the journal Cell Reports, suggesting that if food is eaten at the wrong time of day, the body stores more fat.

"The biological clock controls our metabolism, so the way in which we metabolize the same foods during the day and night is different," Johnson said, according to the Daily Mail.

"If you metabolize food during the day, when you are active, you tend not to convert so much of that to fat.  Whereas food eaten during the night or late evening is more likely to be converted into fat," he explained. "If your body clock is disrupted by shift-work, the same kind of thing can happen."

Because the researchers found that mice found it easiest to break down food in the middle of their day, researchers suggest that people consider making lunch their largest meal.

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