Four Hours Can Make a Huge Difference in Your Hunger Levels

Medscape Staff

December 30, 2022

The time we eat significantly affects how many calories we burn, how hungry we become, and can change the molecular pathways in fat tissue, hurting our ability to lose weight, according to investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital.

What to Know

  • Eating 4 hours later makes a significant difference in our hunger levels, the way we burn calories after we eat, and the way we store fat, leading to increased obesity risk and increased body fat, and it impairs the ability to lose weight.

  • The hunger- and appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin influence our drive to eat and are profoundly affected by eating later, to the extent that levels of leptin, which causes you to feel full, decreases across the 24 hours in the late-eating conditions compared to the early-eating conditions.

  • The decrease of leptin over a 24-hour period leads to an increase in wake-time hunger and contributes to increased obesity risk.

  • Eating later also means burning calories at a slower rate and causes an increase in fat storage by fat cells (adipogenesis) and a decrease in the  breakdown of fat (lipolysis), which promotes fat growth.

  • Obesity afflicts approximately 42% of the US adult population and contributes to the onset of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and other conditions.

This is a summary of the article, "Late Isocaloric Eating Increases Hunger, Decreases Energy Expenditure, and Modifies Metabolic Pathways in Adults With Overweight and Obesity," published by Cell Metabolism on October 5, 2022. The full article can be found on

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