Enlightened Meals

Susanne la Fleur (AMC)
Mireille Serlie (AMC) 
Ruth Versteeg (AMC)





Many metabolic and hormonal factors, related to nutrition, exhibit a daily rhythm. The time of day at which a meal is consumed, its composition at that particular time of day, will influence the hormonal/substrate responses to the meal. Interestingly, a clear basic pattern of eating exists, with three meals a day: morning, midday and evening. Even in an isolated setting without temporal information people show this three-times-a-day meal pattern. We aim to establish how meal-related glucose and lipid metabolism are regulated over the light/dark cycle and depend on light exposure, and how abandoning the circadian meal pattern influences metabolism. Understanding the different circadian patterns in nutrient handling could help develop nutritional strategies to improve health when the internal circadian clock is not functioning correctly.

Several aspects of meal consumption and nutrient handling are under circadian control such as gastric emptying, nutrient digestion, absorption, but also the hormonal secretion following a meal to support glucose and lipid metabolism. Due to these circadian rhythms, responses to a meal are different depending on the time of the day the meal is consumed and this could also relate to the fact that macrontrient choice is rhythmic as well, with a favor for carbohydrates in the morning and fat in the evening. For instance, insulin sensitivity changes depending on the time of day. Because both lipid and glucose metabolism depend on insulin sensitivity, it is important to understand changes in insulin sensitivity over the day in response to feeding conditions that describe now-a-days society best, eg skipping breakfast, consuming more calories later in the day, inappropriate snacking behavior (incl. sweetened-based beverages) and consuming meals with different nutritional components. We hypothesize that consuming a meal at a time that is not circadian “appropriate” results in obesity and related metabolic disorders. This project aims to identify the crucial elements (i.e. diet, time of day, light exposure) for healthy eating patterns. Furthermore, to determine whether obese subject benefit from a chrononutrion approach, experiments will be performed in lean and obese subjects.