One of the biggest fears dieters face is exactly “when” to eat. It’s already a little bit of a struggle to rearrange your dieting schedule from three larger meals to five or so smaller meals. But this is something that pays off in a big way. And to think that your nighttime snack might actually be hurting you is just too much to take for some.
On one hand, many people look at this question through a very simple prism. After all, those chips don’t have more calories and more fat at 12 midnight than they had at 12 noon. So what’s the big deal?
So, once and for good – does eating at night make you gain weight?
The answer to this question is a big, fat yes – pun intended.
Sure, those snacks and other goodies aren’t more fattening or more caloric by number depending on the time, but they may as well be.
When the nighttime approaches, assuming you’re one of the 95% of people on the planet that sleeps at night, your body is tired. It’s shutting down. It’s also cooling down, which means the thermogenic process in which your body heats up and expends energy is on the decline.
Any food you’re eating at night is not going to be burned off in the same way it would if you ate it during the day. So, inevitably, you gain weight—more fat is stored than expended—when you eat at night.
Preventing those Late-Night Cravings
Even if you’re eating something healthy, eating before you sleep isn’t really providing you with any benefit. Should you go to bed hungry with those annoying pangs pleading to be quelled? No. But this is something you have to take care of earlier in the day before you decide to call it quits.
Eating foods with a lower glycemic level will release energy throughout the day and leave you feeling as if you don’t have to eat again.
There are really three main reasons you’ll be driven to eat at night:
One, you have a poor diet with too many processed/refined carbohydrates. Your body is going to want—crave—more carbs – candy bars, ice cream, potato chips, a PB n J, etc. Ironically, satisfying the proverbial sweet tooth isn’t satisfying it at all. What it’s doing is creating a monster – like that giant plant in Little Shop of Horrors that shouts, “Feed me, Seymour!”
Two, you’re not eating enough during the day and your stomach is empty and those acids are churning around looking for something to burn through. Having an empty stomach is going to cause those hormones to fire off, too, so you’re dually attacked by both the growl and that strong sense of craving.
Three, you’ll want to eat out of habit. This is perhaps the most dangerous to your waistline. Eating habits are extremely hard to break, and it’s going to require that you show the will power on top of a satisfied body in order to cut out those cravings.
Foods that release their energy slowly, and foods containing a lot of protein and fiber, will leave you feeling fuller for longer and also leave you energized. When that last meal is over, you should have no trouble getting through until morning.