A new study suggests that our hormones may actually be to blame.
Experiments were carried out on a group of 19 men and 13 overweight women between the ages of 18 to 50. They were asked to fast during two different time periods – starting at 9 am and 4 pm – before consuming a light liquid meal. Afterwards, researchers tested the participant’s hormone levels and asked them to describe how hungry or stressed they were feeling.
Thirty minutes later, they were offered a buffet meal made up of pizza, biscuits and chocolate.
The results? Those who fasted throughout the evening had significantly higher levels of ghrelin – a hormone that signals hunger in the body. Their sensations of fullness also diminished and this trend was reinforced by stress.
These findings support the idea that our circadian rhythm helps control our appetite during the day.
“The good news is that this knowledge will allow people to take steps to reduce their risk of overeating in the evening, by eating earlier in the day or by finding other ways to compensate for stress,” Sarah Carnell, the study’s author and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Johns Hopkins University Of Medicine told The Independent.
Establishing a healthy pm routine can also help kick those cravings to the curb.
Sarah recommends implementing an “eating curfew” – where you wind down before bed, by turning off the kitchen lights and brushing your teeth to tell your tum that chow-town is officially closed.