Health and Fitness

Study Shows Not Following an Eating Schedule Leads to Snacking, Overeating, and Obesity

It's all because of dopamine.

Fond of snacking? Bad news: you may be overstimulating the part of your brain that produces dopamine. And, researchers now know how that's connected to the cycle of overeating.

The University of Virginia found that the center of the brain that produces dopamine is linked to the part that maintains our biological clock. Dopamine is the chemical that mediates pleasure, and one of its stimulants is high-calorie food. This means that snacking and disrupting normal feeding schedules results in overconsumption.

How can you avoid it? By maintaining a normal eating schedule. What's more, the study found that eating high-fat food between meals or normal resting hours becomes stored fat that is much more than when we consume food on schedule.

The modern human diet is really to blame. Early humans started the day earlier, worked until dusk, and slept earlier, too. Now, the study says, human activity is much more about "daytime activity, moderate eating, and nighttime rest."

"This lights-on-all-the-time, eat-at-any-time lifestyle recasts eating patterns and affects how the body utilizes energy," Ali Güler, a professor of biology at the University of Virginia says. "It alters metabolism—as our study shows—and leads to obesity, which causes disease. We're learning that when we eat is just as important as how much we eat. A calorie is not just a calorie. Calories consumed between meals or at odd hours become stored as fat, and that is the recipe for poor health."

Say goodbye to midnight snacking.

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About The Author
Paolo Chua
Associate Style Editor
Paolo Chua is the Associate Style Editor at Esquire Philippines, where he writes about fashion and grooming. Before joining Esquire Philippines, he was a writer at Town & Country Philippines.
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