A study published in 2017 in the journal Obesity finally adds scientific data to the claim that morning people may in fact be healthier than evening people.
Finnish scientists studied approximately 2,000 men and women to determine if being a “morning person” or an “evening person” mattered when it comes to dietary intake. Numerous previous studies have shown that, compared to morning people, evening types have unhealthier behaviors.
In the Finnish study, dietary intakes were assessed in the evening (after 8 p.m.) and in the morning (after 3 a.m.). For both evening and morning types there were four times a day when they consumed the most calories. Almost all the morning types ate something before 10 a.m., while only 80 percent of the evening types ate early. In the morning, evening types had lower intakes of all macronutrients — with the exception of sucrose — than morning people did. After 8 p.m., 81 percent of morning people and 94 percent of evening types ate something.
Evening types ate more sucrose, more fat, and more saturated fatty acids than morning types. On the weekends, evening people had higher total daily intake of fat. Evening types also seemed to have more irregular meal times and twice as many eating occasions on the weekend. This study showed that evening types might be more susceptible to unfavorable dietary patterns, and might be at higher risk for obesity and metabolic disturbances.
It may be out of your control whether you are an early riser or if you just get going when the sun goes down. Your daily rhythms may be the result of environmental factors, such as a job schedule, or internal factors like genetics. But if you are a night owl, this study suggests that you might be more susceptible than early risers to unhealthy eating patterns.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. Learn more about Tracy and what healthy living services and products she can offer on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.