Who Makes Healthier Food Choices, Early Birds Or Night Owls?

A first of its kind study compared the eating behaviors of “early birds” and “night owls.” The results showed that morning people ate earlier in the day, and made healthier food selections.

Prior research indicated eating early in the day may promote weight loss and reduce the risk for heart disease, and diabetes. This current study, published in the journal Obesity, suggests that an early riser’s food choices play a role in these weight and risk reductions.

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“Early birds may have an extra advantage over night owls when it comes to fighting obesity as they are instinctively choosing to eat healthier foods earlier in the day,” says Courtney Peterson, Ph.D., University of Alabama, and spokesperson for The Obesity Society.

Many body processes are regulated over a 24 hour period by our underlying circadian, or biological rhythms. Our circadian-based behaviors determine our chronotype: whether we are a “morning type” or “evening type” person.

The researchers analyzed data from almost 2,000 randomly selected individuals to discover if their chronotype influenced what they consumed, and when. They noted distinct differences between the two types in energy level, and nutrient intake, and found morning people made wiser food choices throughout the day.

Evening types ate more sucrose (sugar) in the morning, and consumed less protein overall. During the evenings, night owls took in more sucrose, fat, and saturated fatty acids. Over weekends, evening types had more irregular meal times, ate twice as often, slept worse, and were more sedentary than morning types.

For doctors, dietitians, and dieters this study provides a fresh perspective on why certain people tend to choose certain foods during the day. “Clinicians can help steer people to healthier options - and suggest the optimal time to eat these foods - based on what we now know about our biological clocks,” says Peterson.

Sources: Science Daily; Wikipedia

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