Working night shifts derails your metabolism and can make it difficult to shift weight, new research indicates.
Humans have a specific protein that harvests energy from fat and apportions the rest into storage.
Like most metabolic pathways, this protein (NFIL3) relies on a regular night-day light cycle to function at its prime, reports the Daily Mail’s Mia De Graaf.
A research team at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has now shown how disruptions to that rhythm – such as working night shifts or travelling internationally – cause an increase in the likelihood of obesity and diabetes.
Lead author Yuhao Wang, of the Department of Immunology, show that gut microbes produce proteins that tune the circadian cycling of NFIL3.
NFIL3, in turn, controls the circadian fluctuations of a metabolic pathway that regulates fat absorption and exports into the cells that line the intestine.
For the study, they analysed eight mice who were engineered to have lean body weights.
The mice were put on a high-fat Western diet for 10 weeks on a normal schedule.
They were then put on an opposite light cycle, staying up at night and sleeping during the day.
When they were on a normal schedule, their expression of the fat-burning protein NFIL3 was far more intense, meaning their metabolism was more regular.