Some dieters believe that eating at night will make them gain more weight. Is this really true? Some diet plans recommend that you eat your final meal of the day several hours before going to bed. What is the wisdom behind this advice?
The Research on Eating at Night
Scientific research has found no link between eating at night and excessive weight gain. At present, there is no evidence indicating that if you eat after a certain time, you are guaranteed to gain weight. Based on your body type and height, your body needs a specific number of calories in order to maintain your present weight. If you consume all of those calories close to bedtime, you will not necessarily gain weight.
Considerations for Eating at Night
The truth about eating at night is that many people who do this are not eating their one and only meal at this time. The type of eating that occurs at night is usually snacking and eating while watching television. When your mind is on something else and you are snacking on sweets or fatty foods, you may find yourself exceeding the caloric limit for your body type. If you know that nighttime snacking is an issue for you, stock your fridge with healthy, low-calorie foods. Carrot sticks, apples, low salt crackers and low fat flavored yogurt are examples.
For those who do skip meals and consume all of their calories at night in one sitting, experts recommend a change of habit. If your goal is to eat 2,000 calories a day, for example, try to split that up into at least 3 meals a day. Some experts recommend eating 4 or 5 times per day because it will be easier on the body to metabolize smaller portions. Additionally, going all day without eating and having dinner at night can affect the relationship between insulin and blood sugar. This can put you more at risk for Type 2 diabetes. This is one more reason that avoiding food all day and eating all of your calories near bedtime is not a good idea.
Another pattern that exists for people who eat late at night is rushing around all day without time to choose and eat healthy meals. When they sit down at night to eat, they often reach for whatever is fastest or easiest. Ordering a burger and fries at a fast food restaurant or calling for pizza delivery are examples. These foods are higher in calories, fat and sodium. It is easy to exceed a healthy daily caloric limit when eating fast foods. Eating several smaller meals throughout the day will help you to avoid this type of eating late at night.
The truth about eating at night, therefore, is that it will not automatically lead to weight gain. If you are not exceeding the necessary caloric intake for your height and body type, you will not gain weight just from eating at night. Many eating habits associated with nighttime eating, however, do lead to weight gain because they involve consumption of excessive calories.