Eating more frequently may lower adiposity, stabilize circadian rhythms
A higher eating frequency results in lower adiposity and robust circadian rhythms, suggests a study of Spanish adults.
This cross-sectional study included 260 Spanish adults aged 20–30 years (78.1 percent women) to examine the association of the circadian pattern of energy intake with adiposity and with internal circadian rhythms. Participants documented their sleep and dietary intake within the study period.
After collecting the data, the authors evaluated the chronotype and eating patterns (ie, meal timing, eating duration, and eating frequency) and obtained the daily profile of energy intake. They also assessed the circadian pattern of wrist temperature (internal circadian rhythm marker).
Finally, circadian patterns of energy intake and wrist temperature were analysed. The association between these two factors and with anthropometric variables and diet quality was also examined.
An association was observed between greater fragmentation of the circadian pattern of energy intake and lower body mass index (BMI; –10.55 kg/m2, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], –16.96 to –4.13; p=0.001). Higher eating frequency (≥5 eating occasions/d) also significantly correlated with lower BMI (–1.88 kg/m2, 95 percent CI, –3.27 to –0.48) and with higher energy intake after 20:00 (4.14 percent of kcal, 95 percent CI, 1.67–7.16).
In addition, higher eating frequency led to lower fragmentation (p=0.042) and greater stability of the circadian pattern of wrist temperature (p=0.016).
“Our results shed light on the relevance of eating frequency as a potential zeitgeber for the circadian system,” the authors said. “Although more evidence is needed, eating frequency could be considered for future chrono-nutritional recommendations for the prevention of circadian misalignment and obesity.”