If you have been on a diet or if you are on one now, trying to eat healthy of just lose want to lose a few pounds then more than likely you have heard someone say 'don't eat late at night'. This could be true for most of us, however it is important to take into context of the individual concerned. The important factor here is when you normally go to sleep and for most of us the following statement will largely be true. If you work daylight hours, going to bed and waking at what most would consider a normal time then eating & snacking past 7pm is a horrible idea, especially if you are trying to manage your weight.
You know this right!? well' here is why!
In an ideal world!
Modern life often makes it difficult for us to eat as we might like, I have always said that if possible your biggest meal of the day should be your breakfast, followed by lunch and finishing with a small dinner. It makes logical sense, the further we get into the day the less time we have to process the food we eat for energy and less time before our bodies go back to minimal energy consumption.
The truth is, we don't live in an ideal world, we have work commitments, need to drop the kids of at school, get various tasks done and working within increasingly pressurised environments, we often skip breaks and lunches and consume very little during the working day. In turn we become increasingly hungry and end up snacking into the late evening which is a horrible cycle that's likely to lead to weight gain.
How late should you eat!
If you work 9 till 5, an evening meal should be at around 6pm and ideally no later, to be honest most of us actually manage to do this, it's just that's not normally the last thing we eat. Snacking is great and I strongly advise it, except; if you are about to go to sleep.
So why is this bad! Well it's going to take about 4 hours for your body to get any useful energy from what you have consumed, if you have a cheeky snack at 9pm (maybe some cheese, grapes, chocolate, cake etc) it really does not matter what it is. There is no 'good food' eating this late at night, it's all bad! It will be 1am by the time your body needs to make a decision; do I need this for energy? The answer of course is No! you're fast asleep. Your body will now convert it into fat and store it for later!
Do this on a regular basis and you are storing a lot of unnecessary energy as fat, you probably won't eat breakfast slowing your metabolism down even more and sending your body into survival mode. Your body is now storing more fat and burning less calories.
When it's OK to eat late at night!
If you are a shift worker, working night shifts or very staggered late shifts then you are likely not going to have a normal sleep pattern, in this case you should act much like anyone else would when they get home from work, your should prepare a meal, relax then go to sleep. It does not matter what time this is, because for you it's normal.
You finish a shift at 3am! Going by my previous advice (eating bad, right!), well not so true here. Finishing a hard days work you need to refuel so have your 'dinner' that's totally fine, you need the energy and your body will use it.
Advice to remember
- It's pointless to eat right before you go to bed!
- a light evening snack is OK, (less than 50kcal, thus ideally a low calorie, low sugar drink)
- When you eat late at night, most of it will be stored as FAT.
Sensible decisions is all you need, it's time to ditch the diet and start eating clean and eating healthy.