Conservation of the energy equilibrium can be considered a dynamic process and variations of one component (energy intake or energy expenditure) cause biological and/or behavioral compensatory changes in the other part of the system. The interplay between energy demand and caloric intake appears designed to guarantee an adequate food supply in variable life contexts. The circadian rhythm plays a major role in systemic homeostasis by acting as “timekeeper” of the human body, under the control of central and peripheral clocks that regulate many physiological functions such as sleep, hunger and body temperature. Clock-associated biological processes anticipate the daily demands imposed by the environment, being synchronized under ideal physiologic conditions. Factors that interfere with the expected demand, including daily distribution of macronutrients, physical activity and light exposure, may disrupt the physiologic harmony between predicted and actual behavior. Such a desynchronization may favor the development of a wide range of disease-related processes, including obesity and its comorbidities. Evidence has been provided that the main components of 24-h EE may be affected by disruption of the circadian rhythm. The sleep pattern, meal timing and meal composition could mediate these effects. An increased understanding of the crosstalk between disruption of the circadian rhythm and energy balance may shed light on the pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying weight gain, which may eventually lead to design effective strategies to fight the obesity pandemic.
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