Hey Angels and Alphas,
If you’re someone who wakes up around noon and you like to spend your nights staying active, you’ve probably wondered if this will have a potential downside to your weight loss efforts.
Your circadian rhythm, or in other words, your body’s internal clock, is responsible for regulating everything from your sleep-wake cycles, to your hormone levels, to your digestion, to your body temperature. But it also seems to have a major impact on your weight – and science says that people who wake up early have an advantage over people who stay up late when it comes to losing weight.
Here’s what the science is saying…
Research discovered that middle-aged men and women who identified as morning people usually get more physical activity than those who identify as night owls. People who are night owls tend to be more sedentary throughout the day than people who wake up early, and as we know, being sedentary is directly linked to being overweight and even obese.
Night owls who have poor exercise habits may be more likely to gain weight throughout time, leading to adverse health outcomes.
Some other research in the journal Obesity has shown that night owls also tend to consume food that’s less nutrient-dense compared to early risers.
People who identified as night owls in this research ate more sugar in the morning, as opposed to the people who identified as early risers. What’s more, night owls took in more calories, sugar, and fat at nighttime.
But you know what’s really interesting? The total daily calorie intake of these two groups was pretty much the same. Also, when it came to the weekends, night owls had more eating occasions than early risers.
And based on this research, we can conclude that night owls could have a higher risk of metabolic disturbances, weight gain, and obesity (even though more research is needed.)
Moreover, a percentage of night owls didn’t get enough sleep during the week and caught up on rest during the weekends.
And we all know what sleep deprivation does to us – boosts hunger hormones, boosts appetite, decreases hormones associated with feeling full, and lowers your metabolism. Any chronotype that is basically sleep-deprived will experience this issue, but night owls have a tendency to be more susceptible to lack of sleep.
Can night owls become early risers? Should they?
Let’s face it – it’s difficult to just decide to be a morning person if you’re an evening person. According to current science, chronotype cannot be changed by willpower, and it’s largely dictated by heredity.
This means that night owls are not just people who stay up late watching TV shows – they are people who actually feel more alert at night because their bodies naturally release more melatonin later compared to the early bird people.
That being said, if you are a night owl and you want to lose weight, no worries. You can add specific healthy habits to your daily regimen to make sure you have better control of your weight, and you can stick to your preferred waking and sleeping hours.
#1 MAKE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY A PRIORITY IF YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT
You have to pay attention to how frequently you sit down and how frequently you go out for walks or partake in other forms of physical activity and training. If this helps, you can even check in with your early riser friends and find out how active they are so you can model your exercise habits after them.
One example of this is packing your gym bag and planning your post or pre-workout meal the night before, so you’re ready to go as soon as you wake up.
Even just knowing the characteristics of your own chronotype can change your behavior and help you a ton. If you’re a night owl, you have to work extra hard to exercise regularly and pay attention to make sure you’re not spending the majority of your day sitting down.
#2 REGARDLESS OF THE TIME, GET ENOUGH SLEEP
The higher the quality of your sleep is, the better it is for your weight loss goals. It’s crucial that you aim for at least 7-8 hours every night. And if you don’t even feel tired before midnight, learn to unwind with a bedtime routine and make it a priority to shut down unnecessary devices such as laptops and phones at least an hour before you go to bed. Find new ways to streamline your morning activities (such as meal prepping your breakfast) or shifting the start of your workday to a later hour.
#3 WATCH WHAT YOU’RE EATING (and when you’re eating it)
Since research basically shows that night owls tend to eat more high-fat and sugary foods, especially during nighttime, it would be especially helpful for you to be aware of your eating habits.
You want to know a science-backed way to support your weight loss? Keep a food log. Whether you’re an early riser or a night owl, you should be journaling about what you eat, but also about your feelings before and after eating… so you become more aware of what you’re eating, when you’re eating it, and how it’s all playing along to your weight loss goals.