Next time your find yourself instinctively drawn to the refrigerator in the middle of the night for a wholly unhealthy midnight snack…well, let’s just say you need not feel as guilty as might have prior. The reason being that a new study carried out be a bunch of boffins at Brigham Young University has brought to light evidence suggest that we…as in all of us…are to a certain extent pre-programmed to crave snacks and treats at the kinds if hours our trainers tell us to stay the hell away from anything edible.
In which case, this means you now point the finger at your own brain’s biology next time you’re caught gorging by your other half.
The research team was interested in the way in which the brain’s responses to food differ from one time of day to the next. As it turned out, certain areas of the brain seemed to light up like the Fourth of July much more wildly when the subject ate food during the evening, as opposed to during the day. This therefore suggests that while it might be easy to say ‘no’ to that extra cupcake during the day, we somehow find ourselves becoming slaves to our cravings in the evenings.
“High-energy food stimuli tended to produce greater fMRI responses than low-energy food stimuli in specific areas of the brain, regardless of time of day,” explained Travis Masterson, the study’s lead author.
“However, evening scans showed a lower response to both low- and high-energy food pictures in some areas of the brain. Subjectively, participants reported no difference in hunger by time of day, but reported they could eat more and were more preoccupied with thoughts of food in the evening compared to the morning,”
If accurate, this would mean that along with pulling you toward unhealthy treats like moths to flames after the sun goes down, your brain also encourages you to pig out on larger portions you wouldn’t normally wolf down.
“These data underscore the role that time of day may have on neural responses to food stimuli,” the paper continued.
“You might over-consume at night because food is not as rewarding, at least visually at that time of day,”
“It may not be as satisfying to eat at night so you eat more to try to get satisfied.”
And there you have it – all the reason in the world to never feel guilty again about that 2am bag of Cheetos you found yourself craving completely out of nowhere!