Why we snack too much at night
Our brain sees food differently at different times of the day, according to researchers at Brigham Young University, and that, they say, is why we can't stop ourselves from chowing on late-night snacks, even when we're not that hungry. Sometimes you just can’t resist a late night treat even though you may not be hungry. New research from Brigham Young University examined the brain for why we feel the temptation to eat at night and found that the brain responds differently to food depending on the time of day.
The researchers studied 15 healthy women volunteers by using MRIs to monitor their brain activity as they were shown 360 images of low-calorie foods and high-calorie foods at different times of the day.
The food images included fruits, fish, candy, ice cream and fast food, and were shown at different time intervals, such as once in the morning between 6:30am and 8:30am and once in the evening between 5pm and 7pm for two sessions held one week apart.
Their findings, published in the journal Brain Imaging and Behavior, revealed that participants’ brains showed greater reward-related activity when shown high-calorie foods compared to low-calorie foods. However, when both low and high-calorie foods were viewed in the evening, the reward-related response was lower compared to activity in the morning, meaning eating at night may not be as satisfying. So people tend to eat more to feel satisfied.
Additionally, the participants reported not feeling any hungrier at night than in the morning, but found themselves thinking about food more in the evening.