Budgeting calories

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Hunger Games
This time of year, many of us try to creatively budget our calories: We starve ourselves all day so we can go wild at a holiday dinner, then skip breakfast as penance for a night of diet debauchery. But regardless of how much you’re eating, it’s important to stick to your normal meal schedule. In a recent study, people who ate at the same time every day were less likely to have risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke than those who ate at random times. Even when the scheduled eaters consumed more calories overall, they were still less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol, and excess body fat around the waist) that increases risk for heart disease and other health problems. This probably has to do with our body clock, says lead study author Gerda Pot, PhD, of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam/King’s College London. “Our internal clock makes sure that metabolic processes like digesting food happen at the right time to have the best effect on metabolism,” she says. Skipping the meal your body was expecting may throw off some of these processes. So even if you overdo it at dinner, try to eat a light breakfast at your usual time.