Would you say you’re a morning person, rolling out of bed most mornings in a happy, well-rested state? Or are you a night person, finding yourself more productive at night and staying up late on a regular basis? Turns out, the answer might have an impact on your diet.
In Finland, researchers monitored the diets of nearly 2,000 participants and labeled them as morning people or evening people using a tried-and-true questionnaire. From there, adjusting for variables like age, sex, BMI, smoking and sleep time, they found that both groups took in about the same amount of calories. Case closed, right?
Not exactly. The researchers discovered that the two groups gravitated towards different dietary choices. For example, on weekdays, the night owls ate less in the morning, and when they did eat, they chose foods that were higher in sugar (read: doughnuts) and lower in fiber, carbs and fats, including saturated fats (aka that amazing avo toast you crave every time someone Instagrams it).
On weekends, night owls got even more off track. They ate significantly more sugars and fats, had more irregular mealtimes and ate meals and snacks twice as frequently as the AM crew.
The researchers’ reasoning? By staying up later, night owls are rebelling against their biological clocks – the thing that tells us to wake up when the sun comes up and go to bed when it goes down. Reaching for high-sugar foods and eating more frequently are short-term fixes for getting an energy spike to get through the morning or stay up for one more episode of Shameless.
So if you’re a night person, are you resigned to a lifetime of doughnuts, Snickers and snacks? (I mean, twist my arm) Probably not. Chances are, you have the power to tweak your routine a little bit to live more of a Ben Franklin-style way of life (early to bed, early to rise).
Some of our favorite tricks to be more of a morning person:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day (yep, even on weekends – I know)
- Skip the snooze and get out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off
- Get some sort of physical activity every day
- Eat a nutritious diet designed to give you lasting energy throughout the day (foods that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats) – and turn down that late afternoon coffee, no matter how tempting it is
Even if you don’t make the leap to being a total morning person, don’t despair. Just by being aware of your sleep type and how it might affect your diet could be enough to keep your food choices in check. Just save the doughnuts for special occasions.