Clock genes and weight gain - Waitplate

‘Clock genes’ and weight gain

Everyone of us has a ‘body clock.’ It’s the special genes that us humans have to ensure our body and brain are getting enough rest and enough nutrients to function.  These special genes are actually clocked ‘clock genes‘ and are the reason for us maintaining a reoccurring circadian rhythm that regulates our other genes.

As defined by Urs Albrecht, Jurgen A. Ripperger of the Department of Medicine at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland: “Clock genes are components of the circadian clock comparable to the cogwheels of a mechanical watch. . .  Any of a number of genes that interact with each other to make up an auto-regulatory feedback loop, in which its activation and repression cycle takes about one day.”

There are several genes that are responsible for contributing to our ‘body clock’ including:

  • Core body temperature
  • Melatonin production
  • Sleep and wake cycles
  • Metabolising sugar and fat
  • Digestion
  • Immune system
  • Satiety hormone

So what happens when all of these clock genes are either out of sync or worse still, don’t even have a rhythm to reference to? The answer is our body just doesn’t work properly as it’s not receiving a regular pattern of when it can prepare to sleep, prepare to digest and even prepare to go to the toilet! The most common ‘side effects’ when these clock genes are de-synchronised are:

  • Diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Metabolic disorders

Skipping meals, having irregular bed times and eating meals late at night are three of the biggest factors in causing havoc with our metabolism.  If your body can’t anticipate when it has to digest food then all of the other clock genes will be in a constant state of confusion – this is why you sometimes feel hungry when you’re tired.

If we need affirmation that we don’t function properly when we’re out of routine, we can simply look at children as an example. If it’s past their usual dinner time or they are up later than they’re usual bed time, the effects on their mood and behaviour is immediately obvious and they can sometimes take a day or so to recover.

Having a regular routine of eating and sleeping is not only beneficial for your body being able to maintain a healthy weight but also your general well-being.