Last week the Minister of Labor opened the discussion about the convenience of closing restaurants earlier to promote conciliation for hospitality employees. A few words from Yolanda Díaz that have not taken long to awaken all kinds of opinions. The truth is that Spaniards’ schedules have nothing to do with those of our European neighbors and, although our lifestyle favors social relationships and emotional well-being, it could go against the proper functioning of our metabolism.

Researchers at Harvard University have investigated the effects that late meals could have on weight regulation. To do this, they carried out a study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, in which 16 patients with a body mass index in the overweight or obese range participated. The volunteers altered meal times, while diet or rest times remained stable, to verify their influence on the three main actors in weight regulation: calorie burning, hunger and changes in adipose tissue. .

Study participants, who ate breakfast, lunch and dinner, were asked to periodically document their level of hunger and appetite. In addition, they provided small frequent blood samples throughout the day and their body temperature and energy expenditure were measured. The researchers also collected biopsies of adipose tissue to measure body fat. Thus, during the first protocol, the volunteers finished dinner six and a half hours before going to bed and, in the second, only two and a half hours before going to bed.

The results revealed that eating later increased participants’ hunger. This is because the levels of ghrelin and liptin, hormones that regulate appetite and satiety, decreased during the late feeding period compared to that of early dinners.

When participants ate dinner later, they also burned calories at a slower rate and exhibited adipose tissue gene expression toward greater adipogenesis and less lipolysis, which promotes fat gain.

In short, having early meal times helps the metabolism stay active, which accelerates calorie burning and reduces fat accumulation. “This study shows the impact of eating late versus early. “Here, we isolated these effects by controlling for confounding variables such as caloric intake, physical activity, sleep, and light exposure, but in real life, many of these factors can be influenced by meal timing,” the study concluded. Lead author of the research, Frank Scheer, a professor at Harvard Medical School.