Most people have heard the saying that you shouldn’t eat after 8 p.m. Few know the reason behind that. It has little to do with the actual time of day or the average person’s bedtime. If you don’t get off work until 10 p.m. or go to bed early, eating after eight becomes your mealtime. If you eat three meals a day before 8 p.m., any food after that is snacking that adds extra calories.
A calorie is just a calorie no matter when you eat it.
If you only ate one 1,000-calorie meal a day and it was at 8:01 p.m., you’d probably lose weight if you had an average activity level throughout the day or into the evening. To gain a pound, you have to eat 3500 calories more than you burn. Most people require more than 1,000 calories a day to maintain their weight. The problem is that the more time you have to eat, the more likely you are to eat more. Studies show that eating your final meal after 8 didn’t cause weight gain, but eating after that final meal did. Most adults who eat late have eaten three meals already and their late-night consumption is snacking. It adds extra calories to their diet.
Late night snacking can interfere with the body’s sleep/wake cycle.
The cycle is called the circadian rhythm. It regulates the body and makes it more active during the day. That higher activity requires more energy, so insulin sensitivity is higher in the daytime. What is insulin sensitivity? Insulin is a messenger that tells the cells to open and uptake the blood glucose for energy. Eating late at night can interfere with that process since the body isn’t active enough to use the energy. It can cause insulin sensitivity that ultimately may lead to diabetes.
Eating close to bedtime may cause health issues.
Besides weight gain from overeating, it can lead to acid reflux and digestive issues. Sitting up after you eat and walking around helps digestion. It increases blood flow to the digestive system. Laying down slows the blood flow and doesn’t allow gravity to help. The acid and the food tend to come back in the esophagus. It can cause heartburn, threaten dental health, and even cause sinusitis, a hoarse voice, and a sore throat.
- Late at night, you tend to eat “easy” foods to prepare. Most of these require opening a box or sack and snacking. These are high in calories and lower in nutrition. It’s all about what you eat, not when you eat.
- One study showed that people who ate late at night between eleven p.m. to five a.m. Often consumed 500 calories more than those who only ate during the day. That causes weight gain.
- Some people who eat at night eat more for emotional reasons than hunger. It may be boredom, sadness, or anxiety. People who eat for emotional reasons tend to make poorer food choices.
- When you sleep, your stomach function slows. It’s busy repairing and regrowing tissues. That slow function doesn’t allow for proper digestion. It can cause nausea or an upset stomach in the morning.
For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness