There’s nothing like sleeping a little late in the morning. The covers are warm, and the blinding sun easily blocked by a strategically placed pillow.
But getting up early—when the house is quiet, the birds not yet incessantly chirping, and sky dim—can also be a special treat. And if you have to choose between the two, and you’re trying to make healthier food choices, the early birds win out, says a recent study published in the journal Obesity.
Some previous studies have shown that eating earlier in the day may help people lose weight and can reduce risk of developing heart disease or diabetes. So researchers at the National Institute for Health and Welfare at the Department of Public Health Solutions in Helsinki, Finland, gathered up data from over 1,800 people to see if their biological clocks helped determine when and what they ate.
Their findings: People who typically woke up earlier in the day made more balanced and healthier choices throughout the day compared to the night owls, who ate less protein all day and more sugar in the morning, plus loaded up on more sugar and fat in the evening. The late sleepers also had worse sleeping habits and didn’t exercise as much.
“Linking what and when people eat to their biological clock type provides a fresh perspective on why certain people are more likely to make unhealthy food decisions,” said lead author Mirkka Maukonen, Ph.D. “This study shows that evening type people have less favorable eating habits, which may put them at a higher risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.”