If you aren’t one for routine, you may want to rethink your day-to-day approach — especially if you’re prone to eating late dinners after a busy work day or skipping breakfast when you’re running late. According to a new study, an erratic eating schedule could be totally messing with your health. In fact, irregular meals can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
Two papers published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society found that adults who consume meals at the same time every day were less obese and had better cholesterol and insulin levels, even though they consumed more calories over all. Essentially, when you eat is just as important as what you eat. This research comes from a new category of health and nutrition called chrononutrition, which focuses on the link between your metabolism and circadian rhythms, Health.com reports.
“Eating inconsistently may affect our internal body clock,” study author Gerda Pot, PhD (who’s also a visiting lecturer in the Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences Division at King’s College London) told the health publication. That’s because your metabolic process — including appetite, digestion, and the rate your body processes fat, sugar, and cholesterol — follows a pattern that repeats every 24 hours. Once you disrupt that process by eating at random times every day, you’re at risk for weight gain and other health risks.
If you want to implement a timely tactic, try setting a reminder or alarm on our phone, meal-planning and prepping on the weekends, making the next day’s breakfast and lunch the night before, and setting up your coffee maker ahead of time.
Combine this with mindful eating — when you cut out distractions and completely savor your food — could double your success rate of dropping a few pounds, maintaining your weight, or just feeling healthier overall.