Recent Blog Articles

Staying Healthy

Harvard study: Curb late-night eating to stave off weight gain

January 1, 2023

News briefs

0bcca951-8b43-4c8b-89fc-9fd6c5ad60b5

It’s not enough to think about what you eat to maintain a healthy weight. When you eat — the time of day — is also important, according to a small randomized controlled trial published Oct. 4, 2022, online by Cell Metabolism. Harvard researchers asked 16 overweight or obese people to test two different meal schedules with identical diets. On the first schedule, for six days in a row, participants ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but finished the last meal six-and-a-half hours before bedtime. On the second schedule, for another six days, the same meals were bumped four hours later in the day, ending two-and-a-half hours before bedtime. During the study, scientists measured participants’ appetite-regulating hormones, body temperatures, calorie expenditure, and fat cells. Eating later in the day increased participants’ hunger, decreased the number of calories they burned, and promoted fat storage. Over time, those effects could lead to weight gain. So while it won’t hurt to have an occasional late supper, try not to make it a habit.

Image: © Beau Lark/Corbis/Getty Images

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

About the Author

photo of Heidi Godman

Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Heidi Godman is the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. Before coming to the Health Letter, she was an award-winning television news anchor and medical reporter for 25 years. Heidi was named a journalism fellow … See Full Bio
View all posts by Heidi Godman

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

You might also be interested in…

A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices

Eat real food. That’s the essence of today’s nutrition message. Our knowledge of nutrition has come full circle, back to eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Based on a solid foundation of current nutrition science, Harvard’s Special Health Report A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices​ describes how to eat for optimum health.

Read More

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.