Will you gain weight if you eat late at night? Not necessarily. There are numerous factors to consider when determining whether or not late-night eating contributes to weight gain. The number of calories consumed throughout the day, the types of foods eaten and the amount of physical activity are all important considerations.
To make one pound of body weight, you need 3,500 calories. Supposing your lifestyle does not allow you to eat during the day and you eat most of your calories after 8pm at night. Will this lead to weight gain? If you are staying at or below your recommended daily calories for your body type and height, then the chances that your night-time calories will lead to weight gain are slim.
A common behavior for night-time eaters, however, is to snack while watching television. Many times, this type of eating is done without conscious awareness. A person might choose junk food over nutritious snacks or eat large amounts of food before realizing that she is full. If she has also spent the rest of the day consuming large portions at every meal, then the chances of gaining weight from night-time snacking are high. This is especially true if she has not engaged in enough physical activity throughout the day to burn off excess calories.
Researchers have studied the relationship between late-night eating and weight gain. No studies exist proving that eating past a certain time at night leads to weight gain in humans. It is possible that because people slow down in the evening and are less active, their metabolism also slows down, causing calories consumed at night to be stored as fat. However, in the case of someone who skips meals throughout the day and eats a small meal at night, this does not necessarily lead to weight gain.
Small, Balanced Meals
One of the practices that nutritionists urge is that of regular nutritious meals and portion control. Some people who struggle with weight gain skip meals and then find themselves binging late at night due to feelings of deprivation. This is an easy way to gain weight, particularly if more calories are consumed than are needed by the body.
Experts encourage people to eat breakfast and spread meals evenly throughout the day. Close attention to portion size is critical. When the body receives many more calories than it can use, it will store those calories as fat. For those who have no choice but to eat late at night due to long work hours or other circumstances, choosing highly nutritious foods in a portion-controlled and well-balanced meal is important for achieving greater health and avoiding weight gain.
In general, it is a bad idea to sleep on a very full stomach. If snacking at night, pay close attention to the types of foods you are eating. Replace snack foods high in fat and sugar with fruits and other snacks with lower salt and fat content. Eating nutritious meals in regular intervals throughout the day, choosing healthier snacks at night, and incorporating daily exercise will go a long way in maintaining a healthy metabolism and preventing unnecessary weight gain.