Getting the Timing Right: Sleep and Meal Strategies for Weight Management



Nutritionist and Student of Master’s in Clinical Nutrition
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
Lecturer of Dietetic Programme
School of Healthcare Sciences
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

When it comes to managing one’s weight, most people tend to think about watching their calories. But do you know that the timing of your sleep and meals is just as important?

Your body follow a natural rhythm that controls all sorts of stuff happening inside you. It’s time to uncover the secrets of your body clock and how they can help you keep your weight in check.


Have you ever wondered why you consistently feel sleepy as night approaches and your stomach starts growling around the same time each day?

It’s all thanks to your body’s internal clock, known as circadian rhythm.

Our internal clock

The term ‘circadian’ originates from ‘circa’ meaning ‘cycle’ and ‘diem’ meaning ‘day.

It represents the daily oscillation of various molecular, physiological and behavioural processes, including the sleep-wake cycle.

This helps to induce and promote sleep, ensuring that your sleep patterns align with the 24-hour day-night cycle.

How does the internal clock work?

Your internal body clock synchronizes with the day-night cycle through light signals.

During the day, it receives light signals, like sunlight, through retina receptors in your eyes. This stimulates metabolism and physiological processes that promote wakefulness.

As night falls, the body clock detects weaker light stimuli, triggering night-time activities and inducing sleepiness, aided by the release of melatonin.

By aligning your circadian rhythms with the day-night cycle, your internal clock ensures sufficient rest for daytime productivity.

How the internal clock affects our eating-fasting cycle

The eating-fasting cycle is also orchestrated by the internal body clock.

During the daytime, digestive system is optimized for efficient nutrient absorption and energy utilization, while hunger hormones are regulated to promote appetite and energy intake.

Whereas at night, your physiology is geared towards rest, and your digestive system slows down.

Ideally, based on the internal clock, you are meant to be physically active and eating during the day, and sleeping and fasting at night.

However, your internal body clock cycle can be disrupted by erratic 24-hour day-night activities, such as:

  • The modernization of our lives.
  • Exposure to artificial light around the clock.
  • High calorie food being accessible 24-hours.

This disruption can have adverse effects on your efforts to maintain our health, which includes weight management.


Sleep-wake and eating-fasting cycles are 2 vital physiological and behavioural activities that are regulated by internal body clock, and they influence one another.

Staying up late can lead to late-night snacks and weight gain

Eating closer to bedtime, when your internal body clock is telling us that it’s rest time, it can mess with the normal rhythm of internal body clock and eventually promote weight gain.

Picture this: you had dinner at 7.00 pm, and you’re still awake at 1.00 am. That’s a long stretch to feel hungry and be tempted to snack. Staying up late gives you a large window of opportunity to eat, especially if there’s a big gap until bedtime.

Those late-night munchies can easily lead to unwanted weight gain.

Eating 2 to 3 hours before bedtime can lead to weight gain

Your internal body clock will stimulate the production of melatonin, a hormone that make you feel sleepy, 2 to 3 hours prior to usual bedtime.

Eating close to the onset of melatonin production has been associated with insulin resistance as well as greater body fat percent and waist circumference.

Eating more later in the day can lead to more weight gain

Several studies reported that your body burns less calorie (diet-induced thermogenesis, DIT) during dinner compared to breakfast.

The decrease in DIT reflects a reduction in energy expenditure from digestion, absorption, and metabolism of the nutrients ingested.

Therefore, if you eat more of calories towards later in the day, you are more likely to gain more weight compared to those that eat earlier in the day.

Lack of sleep can make us hungry and eat more than we should

Not getting enough sleep due to late sleep can mess with important hunger hormones like leptin and ghrelin, which can leave you feeling hungrier and more likely to overeat.

On top of that, it affects your brain’s ability to make healthy choices and control cravings.

Studies have shown that sleep-deprived individuals have poor food choices, and they tend to go for high calorie and unhealthy foods.

  1. Sleep early. Don’t let late nights tempt you into reaching for those late-night snacks. Aim for an early bedtime, ideally aligning with the natural day-night cycle.
  2. Have an adequate amount of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation and the Sleep Health Foundation recommend 7 to 9 hours of sleep for adults.
  3. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Stick to a routine, even on weekends, to keep your circadian rhythm on track and promote better sleep quality.
  4. Have regular meals and avoid late-night eating. Establish regular mealtimes and try to avoid eating close to bedtime. Give yourself at least a three-hour gap between your last meal and sleep.
  5. Eat more calories earlier in the day. Follow the age-old wisdom of “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper.” Focus on consuming a substantial portion of your daily caloric intake during breakfast and lunch.

Aligning your sleep and eating patterns with circadian rhythms is important for effective weight management. So, the next time you find yourself struggling with your weight, remember that it’s not just about calories.

Take a moment to listen to your body’s natural rhythm, prioritize adequate and quality sleep, stick to consistent sleep and meal schedules, and avoid late-night eating.

These small adjustments can help maintain a healthy weight and achieve a healthier you. Your body and waistline will thank you for it!


  1. Al Khatib, H. K., Harding, S. V., Darzi, J., & Pot, G. K. (2017). The effects of partial sleep deprivation on energy balance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. European journal of clinical nutrition, 71(5), 614–624.
  2. Bacaro, V., Ballesio, A., Cerolini, S., Vacca, M., Poggiogalle, E., Donini, L. M., Lucidi, F., & Lombardo, C. (2020). Sleep duration and obesity in adulthood: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity research & clinical practice, 14(4), 301–309.
  3. Boege, H. L., Bhatti, M. Z., & St-Onge, M. P. (2021). Circadian rhythms and meal timing: impact on energy balance and body weight. Current opinion in biotechnology, 70, 1–6.
  4. Chaput, J. P., McHill, A. W., Cox, R. C., Broussard, J. L., Dutil, C., da Costa, B. G. G., Sampasa-Kanyinga, H., & Wright, K. P., Jr (2023). The role of insufficient sleep and circadian misalignment in obesity. Nature reviews. Endocrinology, 19(2), 82–97.
  5. Dashti, H. S., Gómez-Abellán, P., Qian, J., Esteban, A., Morales, E., Scheer, F. A. J. L., & Garaulet, M. (2021). Late eating is associated with cardiometabolic risk traits, obesogenic behaviors, and impaired weight loss. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 113(1), 154–161.
  6. Mazri, F. H., Manaf, Z. A., Shahar, S., Mat Ludin, A. F., & Abdul Basir, S. M. (2022). Development and evaluation of integrated chrono-nutrition weight reduction program among overweight/obese with morning and evening chronotypes. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(8), 4469.
  7. Richter, J., Herzog, N., Janka, S., Baumann, T., Kistenmacher, A., & Oltmanns, K. M. (2020). Twice as high diet-induced thermogenesis after breakfast vs dinner on high-calorie as well as low-calorie meals. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 105(3), dgz311.

Be Careful of This Viral Health “Advice”! Yes, Elon Musk Can Be Wrong Too!


Chief Pharmacist
Alpro Pharmacy

A recent weight loss trend among TikTok users is the use of the diabetes medication Ozempic, which gathered over a million views—and counting!—using the hashtag #ozempic and #ozempicjourney. Even Elon Musk credited it as one of the reasons he shed 13 kg.

Ozempic is actually one of the many brand names for semaglutide, an anti-diabetic medication used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and, in the United States, as anti-obesity medication for long-term weight management.

However, it is not the ultimate answer for obesity as it is a prescription medicine indicated for type 2 diabetes, which requires a patient to go get a complete medication review.

  • Overdose of Ozempic or other similar prescription can cause low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia, which can lead to more health complications
  • Common side effects include gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and constipation
  • Other possible side effects include pancreatitis, changes in vision, low blood sugar, kidney failure and gallbladder issues.
  • Furthermore, it is not suitable for people with medullary thyroid cancer or certain endocrine disorders

Diet is the key component in weight management. Many people are aware of this, but only a few succeeded in making changes to their diet in order to achieve a healthy body weight.

This is because most people initiate the lifestyle and diet changes without proper planning and consultation from experts such as nutritionists and dietitians.

With proper consultation from nutritionist and dietitian, weight loss progression can be measured with a much higher success rate.

Dietitian can personalize weight management plan effectively and safely while taking into account the underlying contributing factor needs to be addressed for each individual.


In cases where one requires Ozempic, it should only be used under a doctor’s prescription and purchased from a licensed pharmacy.

Members of the public should keep in mind to not purchase this drug online via illegal sources as this puts their health at risk health.

They will also subject genuine people with diabetes that need this medication to unnecessary distress, should the medication run out of stock due to the self-prescribing habit of the netizens.

Another issue of note is that this medication has to be handled with care under tight temperature control as it is a cold chain medicine. Once the cold chain is broken, the efficacy may be affected and may also cause unwanted side effects.

Diets & Exercise Tips to Regain Your Pre-Pregnancy Body Shape


Medical Director
Clinic RX

Every woman’s body is unique. Therefore, the question of the ‘right option’ or ‘best option’ is something that each and every woman has to figure out on her own.

For example, mothers that breastfeed often experience rapid weight loss and may benefit from an increased intake of certain nutrients or supplements. Women that gave birth via caesarean section may need a longer time to recover. Existing health issues and lifestyle variables also need to be considered.

If you are interested to find out more about the topics discussed below, you should discuss the matter further with your doctor.


Postpartum weight loss averages about 4.5 to 5.5 kg in the first 6 weeks. Women often return to their pre-pregnancy weight within a year, though this time frame varies depending on how much weight was gained during their pregnancy.

Breastfeeding aids in weight loss since it consumes extra calories, resulting in a natural weight loss for many women.

Breastfeeding women should pay special attention to their diets at this time.

While experiencing weight loss after giving birth may seem like a good idea, doing so too quickly will actually hinder healing!


Dietary recommendations should include a variety of fresh produce, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

Breastfeeding mothers, in particular, should drink a lot of water (6-10 glasses daily). Try to stay away from sodas and other sugary drinks.

Meanwhile, for moms that had a C-section, they should focus on eating foods that are high in protein. Avoid junk foods and take vitamin supplements, especially if they are nursing.

Vitamin and mineral supplements are crucial for moms during and after pregnancy.

This is because nutrients such as calcium, iron, vitamin D, folic acid, zinc, and more are normally redirected from the mother’s bloodstream to the developing infant.

Furthermore, the delivery process as well as breastfeeding depletes the body of essential vitamins.

Hence, postnatal supplements such as calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), magnesium, selenium, iodine, and choline may be helpful in replenishing nutrients that were used up during pregnancy and after childbirth.


Regular exercise after childbirth will help strengthen and tone your muscles while increasing your energy levels and making you feel less weary.

It also aids in the loss of excess weight.

During the first 6 weeks, the uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size, and some women may feel uterine cramping and discharge.

However, mothers are recommended to gradually resume their exercise habits, starting with less strenuous activities during the first few weeks after giving birth.

A few days after delivery, you can start doing gentle abdominal and pelvic floor exercises if they don’t cause you any pain.

Try to proceed at your own pace—you can gradually increase the duration and tempo of your workout of over time.

Swimming, cycling, yoga, pilates, mild weight training, and low-impact aerobics are all good alternatives after the first few weeks.