Shift workers report eating during the night when the body is primed to sleep. This study investigated the impact of altering food timing on subjective responses. Healthy participants (n = 44, 26 male, age Mean ± SD = 25.0 ± 2.9 years, BMI = 23.82 ± 2.59kg/m2) participated in a 7-day simulated shiftwork protocol. Participants were randomly allocated to one of three eating conditions. At 00:30, participants consumed a meal comprising 30% of 24 h energy intake (Meal condition; n = 14, 8 males), a snack comprising 10% of 24 h energy intake (Snack condition; n = 14; 8 males) or did not eat during the night (No Eating condition; n = 16, 10 males). Total 24 h individual energy intake and macronutrient content was constant across conditions. During the night, participants reported hunger, gut reaction, and sleepiness levels at 21:00, 23:30, 2:30, and 5:00. Mixed model analyses revealed that the snack condition reported significantly more hunger than the meal group (ρ < 0.001) with the no eating at night group reporting the greatest hunger (ρ < 0.001). There was no difference in desire to eat between meal and snack groups. Participants reported less sleepiness after the snack compared to after the meal (ρ < 0.001) or when not eating during the night (ρ < 0.001). Gastric upset did not differ between conditions. A snack during the nightshift could alleviate hunger during the nightshift without causing fullness or increased sleepiness.
- Gastric upset
- Meal timing