Eating at night can make you fat. You’ve probably heard of this sentence a hundred times or more. Is there some truth to it? Or is it just a myth?
Here, let us take a closer look at what happens when we eat at night, and at the same time, separate the facts from the myths about the effects of late-night eating.
Myths about Eating at Night
One common misleading suggestion about cutting weight is not to eat after eight o’clock at night. The reason behind this is the belief that metabolism shuts down at night, implying calories-in without getting them out.
However, this is not actually the real case because metabolism does not literally shut down after eight in the evening. The truth is that metabolism is only slower at night, just like when you are stationary or not active. In short, sleeping or not, metabolism does not stop working.
Debunking the Myth of Avoiding to Eat After Eight
While there is still room for research about our metabolism in relation to nighttime eating or snacking, many experts say that the key to weight loss is not about totally avoiding food after 8 pm.
The idea of not eating at nighttime started when a team of researchers learned from a study that eating at night causes an increase in weight—in mice. This means that we can’t assume this is what happens in humans too because rodents and humans have different body processes, and many factors can contribute to weight gain or loss in humans.
What Really Matters
There are many factors that can affect weight gain when eating at night time. Listed below are some reasons behind the association of why people tend to gain more weight secondary to eating at night.
What you eat affects your weight more than when you eat it
Here’s the truth, what you eat affects your weight more than when you eat it. The kind and amount of food that you take affects your ability to maintain a healthy weight. For example, if you eat high-fat snacks or food at night, there’s no doubt that you might get fat. Fatty foods contain more calories than other foods, increasing the likelihood of weight gain. Not only that, because eating too many foods high in sugar, protein, and starch can make you gain weight too.
Nutrient-dense food and beverages are better
If your stomach is growling or truly craving for something to eat at night, consider picking healthier or nutrient-rich foods and drinks. These foods are high in nutritional value but have low calories.
You can munch some fruits, such as the following:
These examples are nutrient-dense foods that you can eat at night. They won’t give you too many calories as you go to bed and sleep. Also, if you are craving for sweet snacks at night, try to find alternatives for your sugar cravings.
The pattern of taking in foods is also important.
One reason behind the association of late-eaters get fat is the tendency to make poor food choices at night time. When evening strikes, people are more likely to pick calorie-dense, unhealthy, and sweet foods that have a low nutritional value such as soda, ice cream, chocolates, and chips. Studies say that people, especially night workers, tend to binge on foods that are convenient and unhealthy as there may not be an easy access to healthy and nutritious food.
The most important thing that you should keep in mind is that other factors aside, you will only gain weight if you eat more than your daily caloric needs. If you tend to get hungry at night, there is no need to stay away from the kitchen as long as you know your limit. You will not get fat by merely eating after eight in the evening if you are eating within your ideal caloric intake. So, the next time you plan for nighttime meals, do not forget to asses your personal fitness level as well!
About the Authors:
Mike Zhang is the founder of the MZF Group. He graduated from the University of Toronto on the dean's list with a Masters Degree in science. Mike was a two time National Muay Thai Champion, and a strength and conditioning coach to several learned athletes. He has over 14 years of experience as a Muay Thai Coach.
Marijune Tiamzon, RN, MHPNP
With nearly 5 years of experience in the medical field, Marijune holds a registered nurse license and a certificate as a mental health nurse practitioner. She is an adventurous young professional, and her hobbies include diving, windsurfing, and saber fencing.
As an avid writer, she is most passionate about sharing acquired knowledge in the medical field and how to apply it to improve the quality of life of our readers.