Eating differently on weekends can lead to 'metabolic jet lag,' health problems, experts say

Denise Dador Image
Friday, January 17, 2020
Eating differently on weekends can cause 'metabolic jet lag'
Eating on a different schedule on weekends can lead to "metabolic jet lag" - a shift in hormone release and sleep patterns, doctors say.

You're probably used to the feeling of jet lag when you travel. Flying into a different time zone can really throw off your circadian rhythm and cause poor sleep, daytime fatigue and even an upset stomach.

But traveling isn't the only thing that can cause that shift to your inner body clock.

As it turns out, a change in when you eat can also throw things out of whack.

During the week, it's easy to stick to your regular breakfast, lunch and dinner schedule. But once the weekend comes, what you're used to goes out the window.

Disruptions in your eating routine can cause what some doctors call a "metabolic jet lag."

Dr. John Moretti with Adventist Health White Memorial said, "It's a big shift and a big load on your body and your body is going to respond to it."

He said changing your eating schedule on the weekends confuses your body. A study by Cell Press found waking up later and eating well into the night throws the body's hormones into flux.

"Your cortisol level is highest in the morning and lowest at midnight," Moretti said.

Your body has a natural rhythm when it comes to releasing cortisol. This hormone regulates sleep, temperature and basically your whole metabolism. When you eat causes stress and cortisol reacts to that.

Metabolic jet lag comes with some serious health consequences like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

But this doesn't mean you have to give up your weekend brunch.

The same study found that instead of eating 15 hours a day, eat for 10 hours on a Saturday and Sunday. That can reduce calorie consumption by 21 percent. And if you are traveling, Moretti said you should slowly adjust your eating schedule accordingly.

He said, "I would try to shift 30 minutes to an hour a day - not big changes, but incremental changes along the way."

His advice is to eat whole foods and to eat in moderation.