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Better to Eat Mid-Day than Evening

University of Minnesota showed that food eaten in the evening is more fattening than food eaten in the morning. After you eat, your body temperature rises to burn extra calories because your body has to break down the food by a series of chemical reactions that produce heat. After you exercise, your body temperature rises and you also use extra calories. When you are inactive after eating, you burn fewer calories than when you are active, so eating at night is more fattening.

Now researchers at Northwestern University show that mice fed only at night gained more than twice as much weight as the mice that ate during the day (Obesity, September 2009). Both groups were fed the same high-fat food, and were equally active. By the end of the six-week study, night eaters had a 48 percent increase in body weight compared to day-feeders who had a 20 percent gain.

Eating too much in the evening also increases risk for diabetes. Contracting muscles remove sugar from the bloodstream without needing insulin. Being active before eating lowers blood sugar levels the next morning (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, August 2009), and exercising after eating lowers blood sugar levels after eating even more than exercising before eating (Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, July 2009). A large meal in the evening is often followed by going to bed or sitting around watching television, which can cause high rises in blood sugar, diabetes and cell damage.

Any type of activity clears blood sugar far better than keeping your muscles still. Most people are more likely to be active in the afternoon (after lunch) than in the evening (after dinner). This suggests that you should eat your main meal mid-day and have a light supper.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: You've warned about fat bellies; what about thigh size?

Actually, large thighs appear to confer health benefits, not risks. A study reported this month shows that people who have small thigh muscles, independent of how much fat they have in their bellies, are at increased risk for premature death, particularly from heart attacks (British Medical Journal, September 2009). 2800 men and women aged 35 to 65 had their thighs measured and were followed for ten years. Those whose thigh circumference was below 24 inches (60 cm) were at increased risk for death from heart attacks.

Other studies show that having very low body fat is also associated with early death, as are being overfat or storing fat primarily in the belly. If you store most of your fat in your belly and have very small thighs or buttocks, you are probably already diabetic or prediabetic and at significant risk for a heart attack. Another interesting study on thigh fat


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Does drinking alcohol really reduce heart attack risk?

Moderate drinkers are more likely to exercise that non-drinkers, according to a study in American Journal of Health Promotion (September 2009). So previous studies suggesting that alcohol prevents heart attacks may have reached the wrong conclusion. Perhaps the benefit comes from the exercise, not from the alcoholic beverages.


Follow-up on last week's report on NSAIDs:

Many of you asked if aspirin has the same consequences as NSAIDs (Motrin, Advil, Alleve and so forth). Aspirin delays muscle healing by blocking many of the same healing prostaglandins that are blocked by NSAIDs. Aspirin also increases risk for bleeding if you should have an accident.


Recipe of the Week:

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

June 22nd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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