Recent studies link energy regulation to the circadian clock at the behavioral, physiological and molecular levels, emphasizing that the timing of food intake itself may have a significant role in obesity. In this regards, there is emerging literature in animals demonstrating a relationship between the timing of feeding and weight regulation. Unusual feeding time can produce a disruption of the circadian system which might produce unhealthy consequences in humans. In a longitudinal study, we recently showed that the timing of the main meal was predictive of weight loss during a 20-week dietary intervention and that this effect was independent from total 24-h caloric intake. The importance of caloric distribution across the day on weight loss therapy was supported by a recent 12-week experimental study showing that subjects assigned to high caloric intake during breakfast lost significantly more weight than those assigned to high caloric intake during the dinner. Furthermore, one of the most influential discoveries relevant for this area of research in the last years is the presence of an active circadian clock in different organs related to food intake. This is the case for stomach, intestine, pancreas or liver. New data also suggest that there is a temporal component in the regulation of adipose tissue functions. Thus, a specific temporal order in the daily patterns of adipose tissue genes appears to be crucial for adipose tissue to exclusively either accumulate fat or to mobilize fat at the proper time. Taking into account that feeding is the source of energy for adipose tissue, the time of feeding, particularly for high-energy content meals, may be decisive, and changes in this timing could have metabolic consequences for the development of obesity and for weight loss.
Keywords: Circadian; Clock genes; Food intake; Obesity; Timing; Weight loss.
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