This can make us lose weight when we eat (also in confinement)

By Maria Izquierdo-Pulido, University of Barcelona Y Maria Fernanda Zeron Rugerio, University of Barcelona

Many of us take advantage of weekends to get more sleep, wake up late and have a thousand breakfast. Or even combine breakfast with lunch. And now that we are going to spend several weeks confined by COVID-19, in most cases without working, that jet lag in meals could last for days.

Recently, our research team has shown that the difference in meal times between weekdays and holidays, which we have named "eating jet lag”, Is directly related to obesity. This work has been published in the international scientific journal Nutrients.

But what do our sleeping and eating schedules have to do with weight? Very easy. We all have a biological clock, located in the brain, that helps us to function depending on whether it is day or night. While it is daylight and there is light we are active, we eat and therefore we digest food and absorb nutrients. However, when night falls our watch prepares us to sleep, repair ourselves and fast.

In order for this rhythm to remain constant, the body must remain attentive to the hands of the internal clock and thus continually anticipate the changes that occur every 24 hours. That explains why we get hungry at the same time each day or why if we stay awake longer than usual it costs us horrors to keep our eyes open.

The intense sensation of hunger or sleep is nothing more than our clock acting "just in time" and preparing the body for what is coming. It is important to note that this synchrony is maintained throughout the day, every day of the week. It is 24/7. And there is no more: our biological clock loves routine.

The disorganization of the weekend

When we change our sleeping and eating times on weekends, we confuse our biological clock. Since it is not programmed to distinguish between a Saturday or a Monday, the metabolism is "altered".

Let's imagine that every day during the week, we get up at 7 a.m. and we have breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Suddenly Saturday comes and we change the rhythm. It is no longer working and it is normal for our sheets to stick, right? We woke up at 10 a.m., unhurried, and delayed breakfast until 11:00 a.m. Well, on such a day it will cost our bodies more than normal to properly manage the nutrients we eat, particularly glucose, among other reasons because it reduces the response to insulin, which is what organizes what to do with sugars. .

And this difference between the hours of working days and holidays, the so-called eating jet lag, is what in the long term can negatively influence our weight.

Jet lag without traveling to another country

Specifically, what we have found in our research is that if at the weekend we postpone meals for more than 3 and a half hours, in the long run we could gain up to 4 kilos of weight compared to those individuals who have a lower eating jet lag or simply that they do not have it. It is interesting to note that this happens even if we eat the same thing, because it is the irregularity that makes us fat and not the calories.

What if that irregularity goes on for days?

Although our study is limited to the effect of eating jet lag During the weekends, it is probable that maintaining the irregularity in our schedules during all these weeks of quarantine will make us gain some weight.

Therefore, we recommend establishing a healthy routine. The important thing is that it is easy for us to follow and that we can maintain it.

Recommendations to design a healthy routine during confinement and not die trying

The first thing is to ask yourself the following questions: "What time do I feel tired and need to go to sleep?" and "How many hours do I need to sleep to feel good?"

From here, it will be easy for us to plan the day:

1. Choose a time to go to sleep and wake up. In adults, it is recommended to sleep between 7 and 8 hours a day. In adolescents from 8 to 10 hours, and in children from 9 to 11 hours.

2. If possible, as soon as we wake up, we should open the window and let it shine for a while. It will set our internal clock.

3. Choose a more or less fixed time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eating three meals a day is important, because they also tell our bodies that it is daytime and that we must be active.

4. Plan menus for the whole week. It will help us organize the routine, reduce anxiety and improve nutritional balance. It will also allow you to have a good shopping list, buy only what is necessary and get what is essential.

5. Choose a time to practice physical exercise, preferably in the morning.

6. Also establish a schedule for working or doing school work.

7. Take time for ourselves and to share conversations with family and friends. Currently the via on-line it is perfect for it.

8. Let's disconnect! Although it is easy to spend too much time in front of the screens, let's turn them off, especially before going to sleep. Let's read, draw, knit …

We must repeat these hours from Monday to Sunday … Our health will appreciate it. Now that we are at home, we can take advantage and begin to establish a healthy routine that prevents us from jet lag food in the future.

Maria Izquierdo-Pulido, Professor at the Department of Nutrition, Food Sciences and Gastronomy, University of Barcelona and Maria Fernanda Zeron Rugerio, Researcher at the Department of Nutrition, Food Sciences and Gastronomy, University of Barcelona

This article was originally published in The Conversation. Read the original.