Eating breakfast kick-starts the body's metabolism and helps it burn fat when we sleep. It's even more important than the amount of food you eat, say researchers from Vanderbilt University.
They monitored a group of middle-aged people over two 56-hour sessions to see how their bodies metabolized food. They were either burning more fats or carbohydrates depending on the time of day; at night, we burn more fats when we're asleep—and so if we snack late at night, we delay the start of the fat-burning cycle.
Far better to eat earlier in the evening and then not eat again until breakfast, the researchers said. Having the last meal of the day late, such as at 10pm as the researchers tested, or snacking after eating dinner reduces the time the body burns fat at night.