Circadian Rhythms, Metabolism, and Chrononutrition in Rodents and Humans

Adv Nutr. 2016 Mar 15;7(2):399-406. doi: 10.3945/an.115.010777. Print 2016 Mar.


Chrononutrition is an emerging discipline that builds on the intimate relation between endogenous circadian (24-h) rhythms and metabolism. Circadian regulation of metabolic function can be observed from the level of intracellular biochemistry to whole-organism physiology and even postprandial responses. Recent work has elucidated the metabolic roles of circadian clocks in key metabolic tissues, including liver, pancreas, white adipose, and skeletal muscle. For example, tissue-specific clock disruption in a single peripheral organ can cause obesity or disruption of whole-organism glucose homeostasis. This review explains mechanistic insights gained from transgenic animal studies and how these data are being translated into the study of human genetics and physiology. The principles of chrononutrition have already been demonstrated to improve human weight loss and are likely to benefit the health of individuals with metabolic disease, as well as of the general population.

Keywords: chronobiology; clock gene; diabetes; dietary patterns; eating behavior; genetics; meal timing; metabolic syndrome; misalignment; obesity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Animals
  • CLOCK Proteins / genetics
  • CLOCK Proteins / metabolism
  • Chronobiology Phenomena*
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Congresses as Topic
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Meals
  • Metabolic Syndrome / genetics
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Rats
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / metabolism*


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • CLOCK Proteins