Next time you decide to ruin your diet with some late-night snacking, don’t blame yourself; blame your brain. And not just for giving you unhealthy thoughts—turns out it’s not quite wired right.
According to new research at Brigham Young University, certain parts of our brains may actually be less satiated by food at night compared to during the day. The study looked at 15 women who were shown pictures of food in the morning (between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.) and in the evening (between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.). Participants were given brain scans to measure their reactions. “Six areas of the brain showed lower activation in the evening to…food, including structures on reward pathways,” researchers wrote. “These data underscore the role that time of day may have on neural responses to food stimuli.”
The problem is that since our brains are less satisfied by food at night, we tend to eat more to kill the craving, even when our fullness levels are technically the same as they were earlier in the day. It’s a problem that can lead to overeating and, in turn, make us overweight. “Typically, eating at night leads to overeating on poor food choices and is not out of hunger,” Beth Warren, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author told Yahoo Food.
The solution is to train your brain to realize it’s not as hungry as it thinks, which may be difficult with pints of Häagen-Dazs calling your name from your freezer.
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