Study Says When You Eat Not What You Eat Improves Heart Health Benefits

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For heart health, it might not just be what you eat: it might be when you eat.

A new statement from the American Heart Association suggests that people who eat more calories earlier in the day tend to have healthier hearts.

Those who have big breakfasts, for example, and comparatively small dinners, will tend to have better cardiovascular health.

“People who consume breakfast on a regular basis have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Marie-Pierre St-Onge, the author of the statement and a researcher at Columbia University Medical Center, told CBS News here.

St-Onge added that eating earlier in the day, when your body can better metabolize food, may lower heart disease risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

She summed up by stating that, “A calorie in the morning may not be the same as a calorie…in the evening.”

Why Does Your Body Process Calories Differently Throughout the Day?

Why are calories different throughout the day? researchers believe that it’s because of the internal clock in your body.

That internal clock tells your body to perform differently throughout the day. The clock is governed by light and dark cycles. When it gets dark outside, your body starts signaling that it’s ready to go to sleep, for example.

The internal clock also controls other crucial bodily functions besides the sleep-wake cycle. It controls body temperature, for example. Growing research also shows that the clock controls the activity of individual tissues and organs within our bodies, and that these organs have their own internal clocks that control how we process things.

These internal organ clocks “control how we process blood sugar, cholesterol, how our immune system functions, our digestive system” explained Dr. Tara Narula on CBS This Morning this past week.

You Should Stop Skipping Breakfast, Start Eating Smaller Meals Throughout the Day

Many people, when trying to lose weight, start to skip breakfast. It seems like skipping breakfast makes sense from a weight loss standpoint: cutting calories from one meal of the day will lead to weight loss, right?

Unfortunately, weight loss studies rarely replicate this effect. Most studies show that eating a healthy breakfast is a key part of a weight loss routine. Some studies show that people who skip breakfast tend to eat more calories throughout the rest of the day, for example.

The AHA statement also shows that spreading your day’s calories out across smaller, more frequent meals has the best impact on heart health.

In other words, you should start with a healthy breakfast, then continue to eat healthier, smaller meals throughout the day instead of eating one big lunch and dinner.

Another important thing for weight loss is to avoid eating big meals before bedtime. Eating bigger meals earlier in the day “would be the ideal”, explained Dr. St-Onge.

The next time you’re tempted to skip breakfast to lose weight, think again.

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