Circadian rhythms and meal timing: impact on energy balance and body weight

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2021 Aug:70:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2020.08.009. Epub 2020 Sep 29.


Energy metabolism and appetite regulating hormones follow circadian rhythms which, when disrupted, could lead to adverse metabolic consequences. Such circadian misalignment, a mismatch between endogenous circadian rhythms and behavior, is most severely experienced by shift workers, due to nighttime wake, daytime sleep, and eating at night. However, circadian misalignment is not restricted to shift workers; milder shifts in sleep and mealtimes, termed social and eating jetlag, are highly prevalent in the general population. Social and eating jetlag result in later mealtimes, which may promote positive energy balance and weight gain. Earlier meal timing, specific to individual endogenous circadian patterns, could serve to reduce cardiometabolic disease burden and aid in weight loss and interventions should be done to test this.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Meals
  • Sleep*