Does eating late affect gut health?

There are many opinions on what time you should stop eating for the day. This topic has long been part of the conversation on weight loss. The truth is that there is no magical time at which your body will start making fat from what you eat. Rather, eating late usually makes people eat more or eat differently than they would if they had eaten earlier in the day 1-4. However, new evidence suggests there may be more to how meal timing influences your health than only the calories taken in.

Let’s look at the research. Recent studies show the following:

  • GI tract bacteria varies over the course of a day and have rhythms similar to our circadian rhythms.

  • The time of day we eat is considered a potential modulator of circadian rhythms with an effect on bacterial abundance and function in the GI tract.

  • The gut microbiome appears to have a reciprocal relationship with the human body’s circadian clock and eating patterns.

Health effects related to eating patterns may go way beyond how much you eat. It is possible that the microbiome may disrupt the circadian rhythm while traveling, working the night shift, etc. Have you ever experienced digestive problems while traveling, staying up late, etc.? It is possible this happens because your microbiome might have disrupted your circadian rhythm so much that it impacted your digestive health.

Keep your gut healthy

Here are some preventative steps to protect your gut health while traveling or experiencing sleep disturbances:

  • Pay extra attention to eating a healthy diet.

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Take probiotics and other supplements that support gut health.

Implementing these tips, listening to your body and consulting with a medical professional on what works best for you will help offset some of the potential negative side effects of sleep and schedule disruption.


1. Ma Y, Bertone ER, Stanek EJ, et al. Association between eating patterns and obesity in a free-living US adult population. Am J Epidemiol. 2003;158(1)

2. Castro JM. The time of day of food intake influences overall intake in humans. J Nutr. 2004;134(1):104-111.5.Berg C, Lappas G, Wolk A, et al. Eating patterns and portionsize associated with obesity in a Swedish population. Appetite. 2009;52(1):21-26.

3. Jakubowicz D, Barnea M, Wainstein J, Froy O. High caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013;21(12):2504-2512.

4. Garaulet M, Gómez-Abellán P, Alburquerque-Béjar JJ, Lee YC, Ordovás JM, Scheer FA. Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness. Int J Obes (Lond). 2013;37(4):604-611.

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