Previous studies have shown that when mice consumed all of their calories during their inactive period, they gained more weight than when they consumed the same amount of calories during their active period.
A team led by Susanne la Fleur and Andries Kalsbeek at the Academic Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, investigated how certain components of diet, such as sugar or fat, contributed to differences in weight gain during different times of the day.
Joelle Oosterman, a team member, gave rats either rodent chow or chow plus either saturated fat or a sugar solution. One group was allowed to consume the diets freely whereas the other groups were only allowed to eat either the fat or sugar during their inactive period, according to an Amsterdam statement.
Researchers found that rats consuming all of their sugar solution in the inactive period gained more weight than rats consuming all their sugar solution during the active period, even though their total caloric intake was the same.
They also gained more weight than rats consuming the saturated fat solely during the inactive period. The greater body weight gain in rats consuming sugar in the inactive period was tied to less heat production.
This study suggests that there are differences in the impact sugar drinking can have on body weight gain, depending on the time it is consumed.
Oosterman said: "In today's society where snacks containing saturated fat and beverages containing lots of sugar are readily available to people, it is important to understand the impact these food components have on energy balance."
"Although there is a lot of attention for the content of the food people consume, little attention is been given to the best or worst timing for certain foods to be consumed," Oosterman added.
These findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behaviour (SSIB)