Studies have found that it's not just what you eat, but when you eat that can affect how your body burns calories and stores fat.
Holiday overeating and indulgences can disrupt what scientists have termed the body's "food clock". People who are jet-lagged and those that work graveyard shifts are also prone to having their internal food clock disrupted.
In a recent study published in Nature Medicine by Georgios Paschos and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania, research done in mice found that changes in the timing of eating could cause their bodies to begin favoring energy storage (as fat) rather than burning energy. This disruption in timing was sufficient to alter metabolism.
The internal food clock exists in both animals and humans to help make the most of the daily nutritional intake. This clock controls genes that help in the absorption of nutrients and it works to anticipate our eating patterns. An elaborate genetic network is involved in turning on and off certain genes while preparing the body for food and for telling the brain it is time to eat. This network helps control the balance in the body's metabolism.
During the holidays when there are big parties and opportunities for overeating, often at odd times of the day, your internal food clock can be easily disrupted. Weight gain can happen not only because of the overeating that leads to excess caloric intake, but due to the changes in your eating schedule.
The good news is that this internal clock can be reset over time and scientists have discovered a gene as part of the genetic food clock network that helps your body shift the clock back to a normal eating schedule and restore normal metabolism!