LA Weight Loss - Does the time of day when we eat make a difference?

05-21-2008, 04:55 AM
I tend to eat very lightly during the day, and have a bigger meal in the evening. I love cooking, and taking a lot of time over preparing my evening meal, but it means I tend to end up eating a lot later than I feel I ought to - it was 8:30 last night when I finally sat down to eat, for example. This means that I feel stuffed for the rest of the night, and end up going to bed still feeling very full. In terms of portion size and calories I'm not overeating at night, and because I eat very little meat (prefer getting protein from chickpeas and lentils etc) it's hard to make it high enough calories to meet the 1200 recommended. I'm not hungry except just before each meal and don't usually feel deprived - when I do it's because I'm unhappy about other areas of my life, not my diet (comfort eating cravings I guess).

What I was wondering was, does it matter for weight loss when we eat during the day? Am I hampering my weight loss by going to bed on a full stomach, even though in terms of calories I'm fine? I've done well in my first month, but it's definitely plateaued this week which is disheartening.

Sorry for such a long post, and thank you for any thoughts.

05-21-2008, 06:10 AM
from what i have read, the time of day doesnt mean anything... it's calories in /calories burned that make you lose weight.. your body doesnt know what time it is:)

05-21-2008, 06:32 AM
Thanks Jimaterry :) that makes a lot of sense, especially when I see people who do the calorie 'zigzag' thing - if they're measuring calories with weekly totals then surely my daily totaling is fine? But I've seen people saying you mustn't eat grains after 4pm or go to bed on a full stomach, and it worries me... but I do feel much more reassured now, thank you!

05-21-2008, 10:14 AM
tabitha, congratulations on your loss so far. I agree it really doesn't matter what time you eat as long as you are not taking in more calories than you need. I discovered that I don't sleep if I go to bed hungry.

05-21-2008, 11:35 AM
Thanks Bargoo, that's really nice of you :) Congratulations on your achievement too - that's fantastic, and really inspiring!

Thanks also for the reassurance about time of eating, I was feeling really worried about it but feel a lot happier now!

05-21-2008, 01:30 PM
I have to say I think it depends on a lot of factors, including just the person.

I have played around with when I eat, how much I eat, what I eat, etc. I have found that I can eat as late as I like in the evenings (and we often eat dinner around 8:30 or 9 as well), but if I limit my carbs in the evenings, I tend to lose faster and more consistently. So I try to eat most of my carbs during the day, instead.

However I know some people who eat carbs late and night and it makes no difference to them.

I also know that if I don't eat regularly throughout the day, I will wind up STARVING at dinner time (especially if I've worked out that day) and will overeat ... both in number of calories I should be having and in just eating enough to make myself feel miserable.

If I am to eat healthily, I *need* to eat breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, usually a high protein post workout snack, and dinner. And if I have calories left over, even a post dinner snack/dessert.


05-21-2008, 10:52 PM
I have played around with when I eat, how much I eat, what I eat, etc. I have found that I can eat as late as I like in the evenings (and we often eat dinner around 8:30 or 9 as well), but if I limit my carbs in the evenings, I tend to lose faster and more consistently. So I try to eat most of my carbs during the day, instead.

I've noticed this too. One of the important hormones in weight loss is human growth hormone and the levels of human growth hormone vary throughout the day. The highest levels are growth hormone are when we sleep. It's involved in building lean muscle mass, repairing damaged muscle tissue, maintaining our basal metabolic rate...etc. Insulin inhibits growth hormone so eating carbs late at night can negate some of the beneficial effects. Some people won't have any problems with this, others might. If I'm eating close to bedtime I stick to low carb snacks. More than anything you want to try and make sure you pair any carbs you're having with protein (particularly at night) to lessen the insulin spike so growth hormone can do it's job.

For the most part, it is calories in vs. calories out. I read somewhere that they did a study on individuals who ate the exact same number of ate them throughout the day, one ate everything right before bed. Neither gained weight. I think there's a tendency to overeat if you've gone all day without eating and that's where the idea that eating late at night causes weight gain came from.

06-10-2008, 12:33 AM
My only suggestion would be to not weigh yourself first thing in the morning if you eat really late at night. I'd wait until after I ate breakfast and worked out some, and maybe weigh right before dinner. :)

Shy Moment
06-10-2008, 01:53 AM
I have found it makes no difference when I eat. It really is calories in and calories out. Which is great since it takes me from the time I get up until the time I go to bed to eat all the required amounts of the four basic food groups. I also don't do a weigh in first thing in the morning. Every other Wednesday at about 3 pm and I wear what ever I happen to have on when I do a weigh in. Now mind you, I do take off my blue tooth and take my phone out of my pocket because we all know those weigh at least 20 pounds lol.

06-10-2008, 02:23 AM
All the folks quoting "calories in, calories out" are technically correct. However, I think everyone is overlooking one very important point. What exactly do we mean by "calories out"? In short: energy being burned. The food you consume is broken into glucose and hauled around to your cells. The cells take what they need and then send the extra down to long-term storage.

"What the cells need" is everything. This is why triathletes can eat five thousand calories a day and still stay in top shape. This is why you can eat five hundred calories and stay in ... well, some other shape.

So if you eat a big meal and then go right to bed, what do you think your cells will do? They'll yawn, take a small bit of glucose, just to be polite, then send lots more to your storage facilities. But if you're up and moving around and actually using the energy, a whole lot less will be saved for later.

Granted, if your late night meal is just what your body needs, then yes, the time doesn't matter. Unfortunately, for most of us, that just isn't the case.

Charlie Hills
I could be wrong. I often am.

06-11-2008, 10:04 AM
Yes, this may be true...but...

If she consistently eats very light during the day when she is most active, then her body is also forced to TAKE from her fat storage to provide energy during the day. Basically, if she is putting a little extra in her stores at night, from eating her biggest meal late...then during the day, when she is active, yet eating lightly, her body would dip into those stores at that time to fuel her activity.