What You Eat Is Just As Important As When You Choose To Eat It

I'd been thinking that keeping an eye on the total amount of calories I consume, regardless of when I eat was the key from not gaining weight. Eat a huge meal here, skip one there and things will all balance out, right? Turns out a simple calorie count may not be the only key to maintaining weight. A short article in the New York Times Magazine this Sunday points out research conducted on mice that showed the time of day they ate had significant effect on weight gain.

One group ate during its active hours, the other only during its normal sleeping period, but both groups consumed about the same number of calories. The study found that the mice who ate during their inactive time ballooned, adding 48 percent to their body weight. The animals that ate during active hours added only 20 percent, even on the high-fat diet.

The idea that eating smaller meals more frequently can help control weight was also debunked. Those who spread their calories out over many meals gain no advantage over those who eat three squares a day. In fact, the nibblers even reported feeling more hungry.

The short article was part of a collection of Q&As featured in the annual food issue of the magazine, which you can access online. The interface lets you navigate questions asked by readers and answered by food experts like Sam Sifton, Michael Polan and more. Elsewhere in the magazine, Sifton pens a nice essay in defense of the family meal, complete with pictures from tables around the country, and Mark Bittman creates a dinner party matrix you can use to solve all your entertaining menu problems. Both are inspirations for those who wish they cooked at home a little more often.

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