From the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot Israel and the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried Germany, researchers published a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which found mitochondria are under the control of circadian rhythm. Mitochondria are proteins which can be thought of as structures in tissues which burn molecules from fat and sugar, providing us with energy we can use. Essentially, other smaller proteins get expressed in the cell which regulate how the mitochondria operate. The expression of these proteins can be thought of as forming an oscillatory pattern, meaning signals for fat burning and sugar burning peak at different/particular times of the day. The timing of when these signals peak, corresponds to a high efficiency of sugar/fat energy utilization, the scientists had found. All in all, this study suggests that sugar and fat utilization may be optimal at different times of the day.

“Study leader Dr. Gad Asher, who heads a lab at the Weizmann Institute that specializes in circadian clocks and metabolism, says that like all living things, we each have a circadian clock that controls our sleep, activity, eating and metabolism.”

The implications suggested by these scientists include the thought that eating and sleeping out of sync with biological rhythm may contribute to diseases such as diabetes and obesity. The next question, is how do we best take advantage of this mechanism in our diets? Is there variability between humans? Do individual humans themselves vary in anyway from one time to another? Can environmental conditions alter our body clocks? Can humans easily adapt and be flexible to various dietary and lifestyle conditions?  Just how complex is this mechanism, and can we hack it?   Perhaps one day, these answers could change the way in which diet is approached.

Source: When You Eat Can Be as Important as What You Eat

Catherine Paddock PhD