Chocolate for breakfast prevents circadian desynchrony in experimental models of jet-lag and shift-work

Sci Rep. 2020 Apr 10;10(1):6243. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-63227-w.


Night-workers, transcontinental travelers and individuals that regularly shift their sleep timing, suffer from circadian desynchrony and are at risk to develop metabolic disease, cancer, and mood disorders, among others. Experimental and clinical studies provide evidence that food intake restricted to the normal activity phase is a potent synchronizer for the circadian system and can prevent the detrimental metabolic effects associated with circadian disruption. As an alternative, we hypothesized that a timed piece of chocolate scheduled to the onset of the activity phase may be sufficient stimulus to synchronize circadian rhythms under conditions of shift-work or jet-lag. In Wistar rats, a daily piece of chocolate coupled to the onset of the active phase (breakfast) accelerated re-entrainment in a jet-lag model by setting the activity of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) to the new cycle. Furthermore, in a rat model of shift-work, a piece of chocolate for breakfast prevented circadian desynchrony, by increasing the amplitude of the day-night c-Fos activation in the SCN. Contrasting, chocolate for dinner prevented re-entrainment in the jet-lag condition and favored circadian desynchrony in the shift-work models. Moreover, chocolate for breakfast resulted in low body weight gain while chocolate for dinner boosted up body weight. Present data evidence the relevance of the timing of a highly caloric and palatable meal for circadian synchrony and metabolic function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Breakfast / physiology*
  • Chocolate*
  • Circadian Clocks / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Jet Lag Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Jet Lag Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Meals / physiology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Shift Work Schedule / adverse effects
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / etiology
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / physiopathology
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / prevention & control*
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / metabolism
  • Weight Gain / physiology


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos