Eating late affects our bacteria and triggers metabolic problems

Eating late has an impact on the bacteria of our organism and that can trigger metabolic and gut problems, inflammation, impaired weight loss – if you’re on a diet –and obesity.


Researcher Marta Garaulet, an expert in Chronobiology, has proved this in a study from the University of Murcia in collaboration with Harvard University and the Top Center of Scientific Research (CSIC) on November 12th, World Obesity Day.

But what does eating late mean? The ideal is to eat between 1:30 PM and 2 PM, according to Garaulet, University of Murcia Physiology professor, but in Spain, lunch is eaten starting at 3 PM.

“We’ve shown the microbiome has a daily rhythm,” explained Garaulet. That means bacterial diversity changes throughout the day and night. “The more diversity there is, the healthier a person is,” she added.

A rhythm change observed in a study, published in the Faseb Journal, recruited ten women, 22-23 years old and thin, who ate the same but one week at 2 PM and the other week at 5:30 PM.

This study had the participation of Dr. María Carmen Collado, researcher at the Top Center of Scientific Research (CSIC) as well as researcher Frank Scheer from Harvard University.

“We’ve observed the pattern of the rhythm of bacteria inverts completely and in just one week they adapt their composition, diversity and abundance according to the time of the meal, thus changing their rhythm,” pointed out Marta Garaulet in an interview for EFEsalud.


The consequences of eating late

That eating time change from one week to another can have physiological consequences in people.

“The rhythms associated to eating late are associated with obesity, inflammation. In addition, it could partially explain why when people eat late they lose less weight under dietetic treatment,” she added.

It occurs especially with oral bacteria. Saliva is important because it helps us swallow millions of bacteria that colonize the gut.

“According to a recent study published in Science it has been proven that the oral bacteria we swallow have a significant effect on gut inflammation and diseases such as Crohn disease,” stated Marta Garaulet.

“We’re thus explaining why eating lunch late – it’s supposed to be at noon– which should provide 45% of the daily energy is a massive input of energy and bacteria adapt, and when that adaptation occurs late it can be associated to metabolic problems.”

Therefore lunch habits are studied among patients because it’s the main meal. It’s a custom we have in Spain as well as in Greece, Italy, France and Portugal associated to better metabolic health in comparison with other European countries that favor dinner instead.


The pending answers

According to Marta Garaulet it’s ideal to eat between 1:30 PM and 2 PM. But there are still unresolved questions that are to be answered.

The big question lies on whether it depends on the fasting period after breakfast, or whether it depends of the actual time of the day or on your biologic clock since there are people who have a late internal rhythm and eating at 3 PM in their biological clock is like eating at 1 PM for others,” stated the Chronobiology expert.

“It isn’t that simple, but in general -she added- it can be said that eating after 3 PM is very late for a full meal and we’re observing it can trigger metabolic issues, and above all, it can have an impact on weight loss, not only for weight reduction diets but also for individuals who have undergone a procedure due to morbid obesity.”



In these cases, according to the studies, 70% of people who lost little weight the first year after the surgery, used to eat after 3 PM, while the ones who lose weight from the beginning and stay that way eat much earlier, at noon.

While science solves these doubts, eating lunch before 3 PM and making it the most important caloric intake of the day becomes one of the healthiest options for our organism.



Date: November 11th, 2018

Source: EFE

By: Ana Soteras


Nota: Instituto Nutrigenómica no se hace responsable de las opiniones expresadas en el presente artículo.




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