Avoiding late-night meals may have anti-aging benefits


New research finds that timing meals in addition to calorie restriction may A study in mice suggests that the timing of meals is important to maximize the anti-aging effects of calorie restriction.

On a calorie-restricted diet, mice that only ate during the active phase of their circadian cycle lived nearly 35% longer than control mice that ate whenever they wanted.

Mice on a calorie-restricted diet that ate only during their inactive phase lived only 10% longer than the control mice.

If the findings hold true for humans, they suggest that to maximize lifespan people should reduce their calorie intake and avoid eating late at night.

StudiesTrusted Source in worms, flies, rodents, and monkeys have demonstrated that diets that severely restrict total calorie intake, while providing all the essential nutrients, extend average lifespan.

The research shows that in all these organisms, food shortages trigger physiological changes that promote longevity and delay the onset of age-related disease.Calorie-restricted dietsTrusted Source in humans, which involve reducing average calorie intake by around a third, may also extend human lifespan, though hard evidence is currently lacking.Animal studies have revealed that timing of calorie restriction can have an effect due to the circadian system, which controls daily cycles of physiology, metabolism, and behaviors such as eating. This has also been linked to aging.

This led researchers at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX, to investigate whether the timing of meals contributes to the life-extending effects of calorie restriction.

Numerous studies have shown that calorie restriction increases the average lifespan of mice. But most of this research has involved scientists feeding calorie-restricted diets to laboratory mice during the day.

Unlike humans, mice are nocturnal, which means they have evolved to feed at night. So for their study, the scientists used automatic feeders to ensure that some of the mice ate only during the night. To determine whether the timing of meals had an effect on lifespan — independently of calorie restriction and fasting — they split the animals into 6 groups.

In one group, which served as a control, the animals could eat ad libitum (as much as they wanted, whenever they wanted). The remaining 5 groups ate calorie-restricted diets (30–40% fewer calories) with the same total calorie intake but different feeding schedules.

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