Why Staying Up Late Can Make You Fat
By Tyler Daswick
Your natural inclination for when you wake up and go to sleep is called your chronotype, and your chronotype may affect your eating habits, says a recent study in the journal Obesity.
Researchers with the Academy of Finland found that night owls—classified in the report as “evening types”—tend to consume less macronutrients in the mornings than early birds, while at night they tend to consume more sugar and fats compared to morning people.
Related: Why You Feel Lousy When You Sleep In
Bottom line: People with morning-inclined chronotypes—that is, those who wake up early and go to bed early—tend to make healthier decisions throughout the day. So cut the crap and quit hitting snooze—it’s more likely to make you obese.
The difference in diet choices between morning people and night owls was exacerbated on weekends, when the night owls consumed even more fat than the early birds, and tended to eat more often and more irregularly to boot.
The results of the study support the hypothesis that societal structures—work schedules, commutes, generally accepted mealtimes, etc.—favor morning people.
If you like waking up and falling into a routine, the structure of a typical weekday is going to support that, whereas someone who likes staying up late is going to run into more obstacles in their desired routine, and thus have less control over their choices.
Can night owls to change their own instinctive tendencies? “It is possible,” lead author Mirkka Maukonen of the Finnish National Institute of Health and Welfare told the New York Times. “Awareness of one’s own chronotype may encourage paying more attention to overall healthier lifestyle choices.”
The answer then might be for night owls to find more ways to integrate structure into their late-night routine. Maybe schedule a workout or a run after you leave the office, or set a consistent time for dinner each night and make more meals ahead of time. Alternatively, you can force yourself to wake up at 6am each day, but who wants that?
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