For people who want to lose weight, it may be a good idea to ditch eating food later in the day.

Findings of a new study suggest that the later in the day you eat, the more weight you are likely to gain.

Technologies Track Sleep, Physical Activities, And Eating Patterns

In the new research, Adnin Zaman, an endocrinology fellow at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and colleagues monitored the sleep, physical activities and eating patterns of 31 obese and overweight patients who were 36 years old on average.

The participants were enrolled in a weight-loss trial that compares daily caloric restrictions to time-restricted feeding, which means they could only eat during certain hours of the day.

They wore an activPAL electronic device on their thigh to measure the amount of time they spend in physical and sedentary activities. They also used an Actiwatch to assess sleep and wake patterns, as well as used a phone app called MealLogger to photograph and time stamp the food they eat throughout the day.

The researchers found that on average, the participants ate food throughout an 11-hour timeframe during the day. They also slept for about 7 hours at night.

Those who ate later in the day slept at a later time but they had the same amount of sleep as the participants who ate earlier. Late eaters also tend to have higher BMI and body fat compared with those who eat earlier.

"These findings support our overall study, which will look at whether restricting the eating window to earlier on in the day will lower obesity risk," Zaman said.

How Late-Day Eating Causes Weight Gain

The research does not prove a causal relationship, but experts have theories as to why late-day eating may lead to weight gain.

Lona Sandon, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said food calories consumed earlier in the day are more likely to be used as energy and less likely stored as fat.

"Eating later in the day, more so at night, seems to be linked to storing more body fat due to hormone differences at this time of day," Sandon said.

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