I read an article back in 2003 where Oprah said that she didn’t eat after 7:30pm as part of her weight loss plan. Due to my schedule I always ate dinner a bit on the later side and if I didn’t, I almost always had a snack before bed. I did not have a weight problem at the time but I wondered if eating later at night actually did have an impact on weight gain/loss and if I should pay attention to that to avoid gaining weight in the future. I mean if it worked for Oprah…
Since then, I have found a series of research that suggests that there is not a link between WHEN we eat and weight gain. It is WHAT we eat that impacts our weight.
So why do so many prescribe to the idea of cutting off eating past a certain time at night?
Though calories don’t count more at night, there are some dangers of eating late at night.
- You may be more likely to mindlessly eat, consuming extra calories beyond your recommended daily intake.
- You will eat even though you are not hungry. People tend to eat late at night out of boredom or stress rather than actual hunger.
- You will choose high caloric or unhealthy choices as your “will power” may be low. People don’t always make the best choices when snacking at night due to emotional influences (stress, boredom, sadness) and being tired.
There is research that suggests, people who eat late at night tend to weigh more because they consume more calories in their day. However there is also research that suggest active people (I am talking athletes and people who train hard) might due well with a late night snack, specifically protein for muscle recovery.
If you are struggling with late-night eating, here are a few strategies to consider.,,
- Eat more calories throughout the day.
- Choose healthy snacks at night like veggies and hummus, fruit and nuts, a small protein shake, hard-boiled egg, light popcorn, to name a few. I have a strict policy that I only eat veggies or a hard-boiled egg if I am feeling hungry at night. If those don’t sound good, then I am not actually hungry.
- Eat more frequently throughout the day. If you are always hungry late at night, try breaking your meals into more frequent, smaller meals to keep your blood sugar regulated.
- Check-in. If you are leaning toward a night-time snack, take a moment to see if you really are hungry. Perhaps you are sitting on the couch with your laptop working late and you are just feeling stressed or bored. Try drinking some tea or crunching on veggies or an apple. As I mentioned, if those foods don’t sound good, then you aren’t all that hungry.
- Remind yourself that you are likely just tired and don’t need to fuel your body to sleep. That you will wake up and have a great breakfast to look forward to.