Weight Loss Support - Evening cut-off?

View Full Version : Evening cut-off?

01-08-2008, 12:18 PM
So I went to a meeting of a local diet group last night, and it went well. But one thing came up that I have a question about.

Everyone there seemed to be in agreement that you should never eat after 7 or 8 pm. But what if your schedule has you staying up later? Many days, I don't even eat breakfast until 10 or 11 am, and dinner is around 9 or 10 pm, and I don't go to bed until 1 am or so. For a schedule where you're staying up late, is it okay to push back your evening cut-off accordingly?

And what does an evening cut-off do for you, anyway? Why is it that important?


01-08-2008, 12:29 PM
Evening cut off should be about 3 hours before you go to bed .. so yes it is adjustable to your personal schedule.

The reason for an evening cut off it that during those 3 hours your body should be able to digest your meal so that when you go to sleep your body can consentrate on repairing the body instead of trying to digest food. It has also been said that if your body is working to digest food it can not properly relax hence your sleep is interupted or not good quality.

Everyone is different but i defanitely agree with a cut off .. i always see better results if i stop eating at least 3 hours before bed.

01-08-2008, 12:29 PM
In the past I've heard to stop eating early evening with the theory being that you would burn off some of those calories before bed & that going to bed with a somewhat empty stomach aided in sleeping. Made sense to me I guess.

The nutritionists at my current diet plan claim that it is the amount of calories you have in a 24 hour period that count. This makes more sense to me and allows for schedules that begin & end later in the day. I wouldn't eat my dinner before bed, but I always have my evening snack somewhere about 9-10 pm-ish & it doesn't seem to have hurt my weight loss at all.

I think the important thing is to have breakfast in the morning (whatever time that is for you) & to space out meals during the day so you don't become ravenous & are tempted to overeat. :)

01-08-2008, 12:33 PM
I guess that makes sense. Thanks! I was just going to go nuts if I had to stop eating five or six hours before I went to bed. Heh.

01-08-2008, 01:43 PM
When I met with a nutritionist, she said to think of the body as a fireplace/furnace. You want to keep it steadily burning (small meals/snacks throughout the day) vs. throwing a whole bunch of fuel on right before you shut down for the day. A 7 or 8pm cut off might work for some people with earlier schedules, but not for someone with a later or different schedule. I'm usually up by 5:30-6:30 am (sometimes as early as 5 am) depending on what I want to do at the gym. With work & commute, I often don't get in the door between 7:30-8:00 pm.

I think what people are trying to avoid with a 7/8pm cut off is mindless snacking we do while we're unwinding. I know I used to do a lot of that, which is part of how I hit my all time high of 250. Now, I have my dinner shortly after I get home, and if I have any snacks, they tend to be fruit or something that's been carefully planned/measured/accounted for.

As long as you're not eating anything really heavy before bed, I think it's the mindless part of snacking that's the key to avoid. And to the extent you can, try to spread out the eating throughout the day so you won't get hungry & be tempted to binge.

01-08-2008, 01:48 PM
A 3-hours cut-off is what I do as well. It makes sense that if I you usually go to bed around 1 am, you will be *starving* if your dinner was before 7 or even 6, and even more so if it was a light dinner. I don't know where that "never eat after 7" comes from. Perhaps because it is assumed that most people go to bed around 10, and it has therefore been misinterpreted? (I don't know if most people go to bed at 10, it's just a supposition.)

It has also been said that if your body is working to digest food it can not properly relax hence your sleep is interupted or not good quality.

I don't know what studies say, but I can confirm from personal experience that if I seriously overeat, my sleep is very bad, plus I wake up all sweaty. My poor body sure does not like having to digest food during the night!

01-08-2008, 02:03 PM
I can say, from personal experience only, that cutoffs don't always work for everyone, and aren't necessary for weight loss. I've eaten within an hour of going to bed nearly every day on my journey.

Cutoffs are particularly beneficial for people who tend to snack/pick at food at night. I plan myself a dessert/snack for an hour before bed, and don't eat things beyond that, so it isn't an issue for me. If I found myself in the kitchen, unable to stop eating in the evening, I'd certainly consider a cutoff time, but as long as I stick to my plan I do OK, even if I eat my last snack right before bed.

01-08-2008, 03:14 PM
The nutritionists at my current diet plan claim that it is the amount of calories you have in a 24 hour period that count.

This is what every professional I consulted about my weight loss last year told me... and I grossed a loss of 73 pounds last year by eating something (anything from a piece of fruit to a small meal) every 2-3 hours... many times before bed. If I didn't eat in the evening, I would usually wake up sick from being so hungry.

I think it's definitely one of those things where people tend to do the most snacking/binge eating, etc late at night. I know I always did... and still do sometimes! :p

01-08-2008, 04:26 PM
I see the logic in the 3-hour cutoff, but I didn't follow that and I lost 110 pounds just fine anyway! I ate right before bed sometimes, and it certainly never had an effect on my weight loss. Calories in, calories out. I know people like to say that's not always true and there are lots of seemingly logical reasons to believe otherwise, but for me it was absolutely true. I knew if I gave myself too many rules I'd never stick to it, so I just went with the calories in/calories out theory and what do you know? It worked.

01-08-2008, 04:53 PM
Honestly, I don't know if a cut-off impacts weight loss. In my case, I just do it because I can't sleep if I have eaten just one hour or half a hour before. But in the end, I suppose that calories in/calories out over the whole day and even week is what matters first and foremost.

01-08-2008, 07:58 PM
I can definitely see how the mindless snacking would be what that might help you avoid. I'm the type to do that sometimes, actually, although not just in the evening. Anytime I sit at my computer, I usually have some kind of snacky stuff (bad stuff, too, it has ranged in the past from sweet pickles in a jar to marshmallows straight out of the bag, to a bag of brown sugar with a spoon in it...ah, the college years.) next to me and I'll just keep reaching for more. Maybe if I replace that with something to drink, keep a bottle of water or a hot beverage nearby? I noticed that during December, when I was doing temp work at my mom's office, I was SO well-hydrated. I'd always keep a mug of tea or a diet pepsi or bottle of water on the desk, more because it gave me something to legitimately take a break for...I'd give myself headaches staring at all the tiny numbers if I didn't take little 30-second breaks every ten minutes or so and point my eyes somewhere else...than because I was always thirsty. But I ended up really staying hydrated, I might have to try doing that again.

I guess the consensus still is, it comes down to calories in/calories out. Good to know.

01-08-2008, 10:24 PM
I usually have my snack a couple hours before bedtime. I hate going to bed starving, almost as much as I hate going to bed full LOL!

It's a light snack, around 150 calories. I am a firm believer in keeping the body stoked with energy by multiple meal/ snacks.

01-09-2008, 12:07 AM
I'm with the folk that vote for total calorie intake is more imprtant than time of day. I usually have a glass of wine and about half of the time a "snack" of 100 calories or so in the evening. I plan for it in my total calorie allotment for the day. It has helped me stay OP and be able to exercise at 5:30 a.m. before I eat breakfast. Eating ever 2-3 hours is something that I have never done before and that I credit as a prominent and important reason that I have been successful thus far.

01-09-2008, 08:54 AM
I read somewhere that there should be around 12 hours between your last meal of the day and your first meal of the day, and it's worked for me. My kitchen is closed at 7, no snacking or anything afterwords. usualy I eat dinner by 6, and then dont eat again until breakfast at 6-6:30. But i'm also on medications that make me realy tired, So i got to bed around 9pm. I think it's more of a personal thing, whatever works for you is what's right. This is just what works for me.