Why is it so important to eat regular meals ? It is often advisable to settle on three meals a day, a habit that allows you to punctuate the day and give the body benchmarks that help better regulate our food intake. But just as it is not advisable to go to bed and get up too late on weekends, the same goes for meals. This is the finding of a team of researchers from the University of Barcelona whose study published in the scientific journal Nutrients concluded that the irregularity of food schedules during the weekend, what they call “food jet lag”, could be linked to theincreased body mass index (BMI).
These results appeared independently of factors such as the quality of the diet, the level of physical activity., social jet lag (difference in sleep schedules during the weekend) and chronotype (natural predisposition to a certain sleep schedule). This is the first study to show the importance of regularity, researchers say in food schedules, including weekends, to control weight, and this should be considered as part of nutritional guidelines to prevent obesity. In recent years, research has shown that the body “absorbs” calories differently depending on the time of day.
Biological clockwork is disrupted
According to Maria Izquierdo Pulido, main author of the study, “this difference is linked to our biological clock, which organizes our body to understand and metabolize the calories consumed during the day. On the other hand, at night, it prepares the body to fast while we sleep. Consequently when the intake takes place regularly, circadian clock ensures that the body’s metabolic pathways work to assimilate nutrients. She adds: “When food is taken at an unusual time, nutrients can act on this mechanism, altering the biological rhythm, and therefore altering the body’s metabolic functions. ”
The researchers involved 1,106 young people (aged 18 to 22) and analyzed the relationship between their body mass index and the variation of meal times during weekends compared to other days of the week. The results showed that changing the schedule of the three meals eaten during the weekend is indeed linked to obesity. The greatest impact could occur when there is a difference of 3.5 hours. “Beyond this period, the risk of obesity could increase ”, explain the researchers, who explain that the people concerned by this phenomenon present a lack of synchronization between the internal time of the body and the social time.
Sleep, sport, diet, three essential “synchronizers”
” Our biological clock is like a machine and is ready to initiate the same physiological and metabolic response at the same time of day, every day of the week. Of fixed hours for eating and sleeping help the body to organize itself and promote energy homeostasis (balance between energy inputs and expenditure). Therefore, people with a larger change in their schedules have a higher risk of obesity, ”they add. More research is needed to reveal the physiological mechanism and metabolic alterations that may explain the link between jet lag food and increased risk of obesity.
One thing is certain, however: the importance of respecting regular schedules in terms of meals and sleep. “Besides the diet itself and physical exercise, which are two pillars of obesity, another factor to take into account is the regularity of mealtimes, since we have proven that it has an impact. on our body weight, ”concludes Prof. Maria Izquierdo Pulido. Note that theassociation between thediet and biological clock is also mentioned by Inserm, which clearly emphasizes on this subject that “the rate of food intake has a direct impact on health and can help synchronize biological clocks or, on the contrary, disrupt them. ”