There’s a right and wrong time of day to indulge, according to a new study published in Current Biology. For the experiment, seven people lived in a lab stripped of any clues as to the time of day (like windows and clocks) for three weeks. Researchers measured their basal metabolic rates (BMR) throughout each day and found people burned 10 percent more calories at rest 10 hours after waking up than they did in the morning.
Your BMR operates on a cycle, so while you burn the most calories at rest in the afternoon, you conserve the most energy two hours before you rise. That explains why you shouldn’t indulge late at night or early in the morning. Evolutionarily, people likely benefited from this pattern because it meant they wouldn’t wake up with low energy stores, says lead study author Jeanne Duffy, Ph.D., sleep researcher and neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
These findings show your body uses the most energy 10 hours after you wake up, making it the best time to eat something rich. You don't have free rein to binge mid-day, but treating yourself at the right time will help offset the indulgence. Setting consistent meal times, exposing yourself to sunlight first thing each morning, and dimming the lights at night can ensure your metabolism peaks at the same time every day.