Weight Loss Support - Eating late at night- does it matter or not?




mottainai
10-21-2012, 09:35 PM
For many, many years, I've had the idea that, for weightloss purposes, it's not good to eat close to the time you sleep. Probably I read it in a book somewhere when I was like 13 or something, but somehow it became something of a "rule" for me. But now that I'm living with my husband, who prefers eating very late, for his sake I've been trying to at least compromise and eat later....but it still makes me a little uncomfortable, feeling like somehow it's detrimental to my losing weight efforts. I'm not talking about extra snacks at night or anything. Simply the same dinner, same amount of food, but consumed later by a few hours.

So-- what do you guys think, or know? Does it matter, enough that I should mind, or not? Research, personal experience, opinions? I'd love to hear it, as this is an issue I'm dealing with basically everyday (obviously). Thanks!


LockItUp
10-21-2012, 09:50 PM
I greatly dislike going to bed with food in my stomach. But I really don't think it matters in terms of weight loss in the big picture. Sure, it could make one's weight higher the next morning depending on what the meal consisted of. But if one is in a deficit I really don't think WHEN you eat is going to impact weight loss in any measurable way.

Fatness
10-21-2012, 09:57 PM
I agree with Lockitup!

The most I eat before bed is Apple Sauce. I do not eat heavy foods because I want a good night sleep. I don't know about anyone else; but sleeping on a fully stomach is very uncomfortable.


stimkovs
10-21-2012, 09:58 PM
when you're eating at a deficit, you're eating at a deficit regardless- it doesn't matter if you're done eating at 1pm or 1 am. you just might not see that deficit right away in the morning if you have dinner at 1 am (unless you're sleeping till noon).

I believe that the reason why you shouldn't eat late/ gospel of this is that when lets say, you eat by 8 pm right... you go to bed by like, 11 or midnight- you've had the 3-4 hours to digest the food, you're not ravenous, then you go to bed, and you're "fasting", but you're sleeping, you can't really tell you're hungry.

For me, if I go more then like, 3 hours without eating, I get hungry, unless I'm sleeping. That's why I eat by 7 or 8, and go to bed around 11.

EricAnn
10-21-2012, 09:59 PM
I weigh myself before I go to bed, so in my case I obviously don't want to have eaten right beforehand, I also like to give my body some time before bed to digest and rest.

But as LockItUp said, if you're in a deficit for the day I don't think it really matters what time you eat.

twinieten
10-21-2012, 10:29 PM
I also always believed this fact to be true, even though it makes little sense. Like what LockItUp says, I think it's the overall deficit that matters, not what time you eat, or how often you eat. Yes, you might see a higher weight the next morning, but your weight over the course of time should still go down if you are maintaining a deficit.

However, my weight loss has been exceptionally slow this time around, and I wonder if eating late has anything to do with it. I wait until my husband comes home from work to serve dinner, so we can all eat together as a family. In relation to my bed time, dinner is late!

The other problem with holding off on dinner until late is that it extends my "eating day." For a typical work day schedule (say 8-5 work day), I might spread out my calories (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack) over 11 or so hours. But because I get up so early and eat dinner so late, I'm trying to spread out my calories over 14 or so hours. That means more smaller meals or suffer through the last stretch. It's not that many more hours, but sometimes I'm so hungry by the end of the day! It can make control a little difficult, and I put myself at risk for over eating.

On days when my husband has the day off, I like to eat really early. Then later, if I get hungry, I can have a little snack.

I've finally come to a point where I think it's OK if we don't sit together every night, as long as we have a family meal a couple of times a week. With activities and my schedule, sometimes it's just easier that way. Plus, I find that I sleep better when my stomach isn't full of food when I lie down for bed.

Is it possible you could compromise and have dinner earlier on some days, later on others?

LandonsBaby
10-21-2012, 10:39 PM
I really don't think it makes a difference. Personally I need to eat something close to when I'm going to go to bed because otherwise I cannot sleep.

angelskeep
10-21-2012, 10:52 PM
I seem to be losing fine. I eat a snack shortly before bedtime, like I always used to do for desse3rt. It's usually lower calorie/mopre nutritious than 1/2 a cheesecake these days, but I just feel like I wnt that evening snack. I'm one of those "doin' it all wrong" people anyhow, though. I don't eat breakfast, just a couple of cups of coffee until about 1pm. I have a 500 calorie-ish meal around 1pm. If I'm hungry at 4pm, I usually have yogurt and fruit or some other light meal/heavy snack, 200-ish calories. Dinner is always at 7 since that's when Robert has his lunch hour for work. about 500-600 calories. Later, it's popcorn usually or some veg or fruit or even 1/2 a candy bar. It hasn't seemed to stop me from losing. Might be different for others.

Barb

freelancemomma
10-21-2012, 10:54 PM
Research, personal experience, opinions?

I'm a medical writer and have talked to several obesity doctors about this issue. They all say the timing of meals doesn't matter (as long as it doesn't affect the amount of physical activity you do).

F.

kaplods
10-21-2012, 11:08 PM
Calorie deficit the bottom line, though some people (I'm definitelyh one of them) have trouble reigning in night time hunger. For me, once I get started "snacking" in the evening, it can be hard to stop, especially if I choose carbier snacks.

However, late meals don't present the same challenge, though if I eat too late, I do tend to wake in the middle of the night hungry, and can find it hard to get back to sleep (so the temptation to get up and have a snack is very strong). This may be a blood sugar thing.

I don't worry about the clock too much, but if I am going to eat late, I do have to be prepared for the urge to give in to the munchies. I have to be prepared either with snacks that fit into my calorie budget or have to "tought it out" if I find myself extra hungry.

Not everyone has such issues though, so you just have to experiment to see whether there are any down sides to an eating schedule change and if you're willing to deal with whatever consequences there are.

angieand2girls
10-21-2012, 11:16 PM
I've actually been experimenting with this with my own body. For me, I have noticed that the weight seems to come off at a more rapid rate when I cut off my eating earlier in the day than later in the day. I've lost weight PLENTY of times in the past and have always kept a spreadsheet of my journey (I got thousands of them LOL). This time around, I incorporated intermittent fasting (where I eat all my calories in a certain amount of hours...which happen to be earlier in the day for me) and I've never lost weight at this rate before. Could it be a fluke this time around? Maybe....but I highly doubt it. This has been my experience thus far. :)

sontaikle
10-21-2012, 11:17 PM
My question is: just because he likes eating late, why do you think you have to do the same? Why can't he adjust and eat earlier? Or, maybe you can just both eat on your own schedules.

My fiance and I have completely different eating schedules, but we do have one meal where we'll often eat at the same time: his first and my last. If it were up to me I would be finished eating by 5pm, when he usually has his first meal around 3 or 4 pm. We usually eat that meal together and he'll eat another meal later in the day when I might just have a light snack if I feel the need.

It doesn't matter when you eat, but if you just don't like eating later in the day then that's another story.

For me, even if I'm STARVING and it's 10pm I won't eat. I just hate eating or drinking that late at night that I will go to bed hungry or thirsty because of it. This was true even when I was at my highest weight, so it's not something I was doing for weight loss or maintenance purposes!

kaplods
10-21-2012, 11:40 PM
Oh BTW, the research that originaly spawned the myth about eating late found that people who ate more at night tended to be heavier - further research found that people who ate most of their calories at night tended to eat more than people who spread their calories throughout the day - and then later research (more recently) found that it's the calorie intake, not when it's taken in that matters.

Probably one of the reasons late eaters tended to eat more than early eaters is that many of them were probably crash dieting, and starving themselves all day, then when they did start eating in the evening, found it difficult to stop.

Also many evening eaters are eating in front of the tv or while reading or otherwise multi-tasking (and that also has been shown to affect how much people eat. When you're eating while doing something else like reading or watching tv, it can be easy to lose track of how much you've eaten).

As long as you're keeping track, it doesn't matter.


Also, on the topic of eating with spouses, hubby and I are on very different eating schedules. We only eat a few meals together per week. We're both dieting, but our food plans are different enough that we've established a "fend for yourself" policy for most meals. Yesterday I decided I wanted steak and eggs and brussels sprouts for brekfast, so I asked hubby if he wanted me to make him breakfast also (he said yes to the steak and eggs, and no to the brussles sprouts - can't imagine why).

Arctic Mama
10-21-2012, 11:41 PM
It doesn't matter when you eat. All is a matter of preference/habit. I tried eating much later to prevent nighttime snacking, but I'm finding I am doing better now, at this point in my life, being done by 5-6 pm at the latest. Big breakfast, big lunch, light snack for dinner and I'm good. Much of my nighttime eating, I'm finding, is mental habit and munchies, rather than actual hunger!

novangel
10-21-2012, 11:57 PM
I'm with Angie, cutting off meals by 6pm has always worked in my favor. I don't think a snack is an issue but eating an entire meal at 8:30pm and then going to bed is a no no in my book. Just my opinion based on personal experience..

shcirerf
10-22-2012, 12:10 AM
Mostly I don't think it matters. Deficit is deficit.

I worked a graveyard shift for several years and managed to lose weight with a schedule that was opposite the norm. The family ate supper, to them, breakfast to me about 8 p.m., I ate lunch at 3 a.m. and supper for me after work at about 8 a.m. Then on the weekend I switched up to a more normal schedule.

In the long run it really does not matter that much as long as you are eating at deficit.

geoblewis
10-22-2012, 12:28 AM
I don't think it matters, as others have said. But everybody has a different rhythm to their day. Took me awhile to find mine.

I seem to be the hungriest in the late afternoon and into the evening. I can't sleep unless I've got a bit of food in my stomach. If the last thing I eat at night is a bit richer in fat. If I have something heavy on the carbs, that's when I wake up famished. But with a rich dinner, I can easily go for 12+ hours without eating. I don't weigh myself until 12 hours have passed.

1spunkygal
10-22-2012, 12:33 AM
I think it matters (to me ) I TRY not to eat past 6pm. I feel MUCH better my reflux is kept at bay & digestion slows down @ night time.

fatgiraffe
10-22-2012, 12:36 AM
Think of it this way: the food you eat will in no way be burned off because you don't burn any calories sleeping

energie
10-22-2012, 12:48 AM
Think of it this way: the food you eat will in no way be burned off because you don't burn any calories sleeping

That's untrue. Calories are burned while sleeping.

Arctic Mama
10-22-2012, 01:14 AM
Think of it this way: the food you eat will in no way be burned off because you don't burn any calories sleeping

You most certainly DO burn calories by sleeping! That's the entire premise of the BMR - calories burned by bodily functions during a completely sedentary state, ie: what it takes to run your engine. The only way to be burning NO calories is to be dead. Even comatose patients have a basal rate of calories burned in a given day, though it may be less than someone who can engage in physical activity like sitting, talking, walking, etc.

JohnP
10-22-2012, 01:29 AM
Calories matter - not when you ingest them - if all other variables stay the same.

kaplods
10-22-2012, 06:08 AM
Think of it this way: the food you eat will in no way be burned off because you don't burn any calories sleeping

Even if it WERE true that you didn't burn off the food at night (and it's not, you burn calories 24 hours a day), but say for argument you didn't - you'ld just start burning them again in the morning when you got up.

This is like saying that you'd have more money every month if you paid your rent at the end of the month, instead of at the beginning.

Calories are the body's currency. Storing body fat is like having money in the bank. Unlike money, having a lot in the bank isn't a good thing, so it's important to spend more than you earn (so you start depleting your "savings"), but when you eat (get paid) and when you burn (spend) doesn't matter - as long as your spending more than you're paying yourself.

freelancemomma
10-22-2012, 08:04 AM
Even if it WERE true that you didn't burn off the food at night (and it's not, you burn calories 24 hours a day), but say for argument you didn't - you'ld just start burning them again in the morning when you got up.

This is like saying that you'd have more money every month if you paid your rent at the end of the month, instead of at the beginning.

Calories are the body's currency. Storing body fat is like having money in the bank. Unlike money, having a lot in the bank isn't a good thing, so it's important to spend more than you earn (so you start depleting your "savings"), but when you eat (get paid) and when you burn (spend) doesn't matter - as long as your spending more than you're paying yourself.

Exactly! Thanks for saying what I always think when someone says you shouldn't eat late at night because you won't burn the calories. If your total daily activity remains the same, it doesn't matter when you fuel the tank.

F.

angieand2girls
10-22-2012, 08:12 AM
Even with all the wonderful advice given here, the only true way to know if it makes a difference for you (OP) is to experiment with it. :)

KatMarie
10-22-2012, 09:00 AM
I lost a ton of weight eating most of my calories in the late afternoon/evening. I don't get hungry during the day but do towards evening. So, eating late didn't hurt me. I can't stand going to bed on an empty stomach!

krampus
10-22-2012, 11:31 AM
It doesn't matter, but eating a heavy meal/big snack before bed often produces funny/vivid dreams and waking up with "carb mouth."

SarahJane88
10-22-2012, 11:36 AM
My husband an I eat dinner between 5:00-6:30 after that we usually drink a small chocolate milk at 8:00 then go to bed around 10 or 10:30. I do not like eating any later than that.

freelancemomma
10-22-2012, 11:38 AM
It doesn't matter, but eating a heavy meal/big snack before bed often produces funny/vivid dreams and waking up with "carb mouth."

What's carb mouth?

F.

tschaff04
10-22-2012, 11:51 AM
I think the only thing about eating late for me is that I tend to eat more out of wanting to munch than hunger. Other than that it doesn't matter when you eat. As long as you are staying within your target you will be fine. We eat dinner really early because our kids go to bed early but I think I need to push dinner time later because I have been finding myself munching way to much late at night. :/

LockItUp
10-22-2012, 12:13 PM
Think of it this way: the food you eat will in no way be burned off because you don't burn any calories sleeping

WHAT!? There's part of me that thinks you are joking. I know that a couple people already responded to this, but I can't not respond also. Completely and utterly untrue with no foundation in reality. Digestion alone burns calories, breathing, heart pumping, twitching in your sleep, and every single other thing your body is doing all day every day for the course of your life. I may be mistaken, Fatgiraffe, but I thought you mentioned you were a nurse. I'm surprised to see this comment from someone so educated in anatomy and physiology! Not meaning to jump all over you, but it's stuff like this that keeps getting repeated that of course some people take to heart when it's just not true at all. Pet peeve of mine.

Kery
10-22-2012, 12:31 PM
IMHO it's not the hour that matters, but 1) what/how much you eat and 2) how your body reacts.

In my own case, I know I can't eat late: food = fuel = if I eat at 8 pm, I'm literally unable to sleep because I'm still running on my latest "tank". Since I also happen to suffer from insomnia, early meals (preferably light ones, too) works best for me. If it's your case too, then eating late might actually damage your sleep patterns.

Also, it may have to do with the quantity we're liable to eat when eating late. Going from noon to 6 pm with lunch in your stomach, and going from noon to 8-9 pm, isn't the same thing: the latter may make you feel hungrier, which also means more risks of overeating due to being ravenous. (Now that can be counteracted by a light snack in between.)

mottainai
10-22-2012, 01:04 PM
Thanks very much to everyone for responding!!

It was very helpful to read. I really just don't want to get anxious about eating a little bit later and have it ruin an enjoyable dinner, and with all your comments, I think I'll be better able to do that. It's one thing thinking something yourself and another having it validated by other people. (:

In general we do compromise and eat around 7 (I'd prefer 5, DH'd prefer 9), but on the days it gets pushed back, I won't have to freak out about it now.

TPA sun
10-22-2012, 05:49 PM
I try to avoid spicy, greasy or fatty stuff close to bed (really avoiding it all! ) But a big meal, or anything spicygreasyfatty too close to bedtime gives me major heartburn.

Otherwise, as long as you're at a calorie deficit, it doesnt really matter when those calories are going in. Going too long between meals is going to cause you to go into a 'starvation' mode, and make dropping the weight harder, but if you're eating at regular intervals, and your last meal just happens to be before bed, it's not going to really screw up your efforts.

Going4Lean
10-22-2012, 06:13 PM
Our bodies don't know what time the clock says it is. So when, and if, I'm hungry...I eat! Most of the time, I'm eating *as* I'm crawling into bed or I'll wake up hungry, so into the kitchen I'll go to grab a string cheese or a few bites of chicken.

I have been doing this, since the very beginning, and it has never slowed my weight loss. As long as there is calorie allowance still available, within your range, then the timing of eating need not matter.

juliastl27
10-22-2012, 06:36 PM
interesting. ive wondered this myself but always figured it was an "old wives tale". i am a night eater and i plan my calories around that. good to know that most people are agreeing that it isnt accurate

TripSwitch
10-22-2012, 11:13 PM
I'll just chime in with as someone who has had to work nights and be "on call" in the past... I've had periods in my life when I did ALL OF MY EATING AT NIGHT and I LOST WEIGHT!!!

Actually one time some friends and I at work (3:30 PM or so till 8:30 AM or sometimes later the next day!) all did the same diet and only ate at night to get ready for a fellow co-worker's wedding.... And we all lost a ton of weight and looked great if I do say so myself at that wedding... So it definitely can be done...

masterptr
10-22-2012, 11:27 PM
:)
feeling a bit better about what I just ate.
PMS craving just kicked in.

Good night all!