A few days ago, I decided to start writing about metabolism, and build on it from its’ definition, to how it affects us throughout our lives; from dieting, to overall health.

As a quick recap, metabolism is basically defined as the use of food for energy. This energy, is used to continue organ and system function, in our bodies. It is what we need, to live.

Interestingly enough though, is that our metabolic rate or activity, isn’t set in stone. We don’t have a constant amount of energy that is used, throughout the day. Of course, one would be sensible to believe that through heighten activity, like exercising, our metabolism would be increased. It would make sense; our system would require more energy if we’re in moments of activity, like for example; running. It’s the basics of evolution.

But, throughout the day, even when we’re sitting around and doing absolutely nothing; we burn energy at different rates. In my previous post, I spoke about total daily energy expenditure and explained that it’s the amount of energy that we burn, throughout the day. Which includes our basal metabolic rate (the energy that we need for organ function – breathing, blood flow etc), digestion and physical activity.

Metabolism Throughout The Day

A study that was published in 2018, in Current Biology, has shown that our circadian rhythm (our wake and sleep pattern – our internal biological clock on night and day), affects our metabolism. When I say internal biological clock, it means each individual will have a different pattern of wake and sleep, that will individually affect them.

For 3 weeks, they observed individuals, with different wake and sleep patterns and measured their metabolic rate. What was observed is that 2 hours prior to waking, we converse energy. Then about 10 hours after wake, we burn the most calories.

Basically, as you’re conserving energy in the early morning, to be more precise, 2 hours before waking up; your meal shouldn’t be calorie dense at night and early in the morning. Then 10 hours after waking up, you are burning more energy, even at rest. This is the time where you can have a more calorie dense meal. Your lowest rate of metabolism, is going to be at night.

So that old advice you’ve heard, about not eating after 6-7 pm, does have some scientific truth to it. Although, it would make sense to eat something that’s not caloric dense, if it is that you are feeling for something.

The Take Home Message

What you need to take from that study, is that your least caloric dense meal needs to be at night and in the morning. The highest caloric dense meal, has to be 10 hours after you have woken up (whenever that time is). So if you wake up at 6:30 am in the morning, then around 4:30-5:00 pm, is the time you should have a caloric dense meal. As darkness starts coming, its’ time to bring out the cereal or fruits, just so that you don’t overindulge and offset your whole day.

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