Eating late is a practice that most experts say you should stop. Not only does it make it harder to sleep, but you’re more likely to gain weight when eating late at night. After all, your stomach has already shut down for the night, so the food sits in your digestive system for far longer.
Or so it was believed! A new study has discovered that eating late at night could actually help to promote weight loss. Not only that, but eating late at night–if done properly–is possible without your gaining weight. Read on to find everything you need to know…
How to Eat Late like a Pro
The truth is that eating during the daylight hours is the only smart way to eat. A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that rats who are ONLY during the eight hours of daylight were able to lose more weight than rats who ate all day long. They had access to the same number of calories and the same diet, but the rats who are during the evening and night ended up gaining more weight.
That being said, the sad truth is that you can’t completely avoid eating late at night. If you get home from the office/gym late, it’s the only time of day that you can sit down and enjoy a family dinner. Those who spend all day working and can’t take a break until they come home, eating late at night is really their only choice.
So how can you eat late in order to avoid gaining weight?
Cut carbs — While carbs do help to make your meals a whole lot more enjoyable, the sad truth is that they are not going to do your waistline any favors. Carbs run through your digestive tract at top speeds, meaning it is turned into glucose quickly. But when that glucose isn’t used (because you’re going to sleep, not exercising), it is turned into fat to store on your body. Carbs consumed late at night lead to fat storage. The smart thing to do is to cut carbs if you’re eating late. Stick with a veggie-heavy meal, but don’t be afraid to throw in a bit of lean protein and even some healthy fats. These nutrients take a lot longer to process, so they won’t be turned into fat as quickly. Most of them will actually be turned into energy to repair your body overnight.
Stock up on protein — If you’re hungry late at night, the best thing to eat is protein. Protein is VERY filling, and it will stop those hunger pangs in their tracks. Best of all, your body needs protein in order to make repairs to your body over the course of the evening, so eating protein will help to fuel muscle repair and recovery. If you can have a protein-heavy dinner–chicken breast, eggs, cheese, fish, or yoghurt–you’ll find that you’re far less hungry during the night.
Try to avoid skipping dinner — Stay away from the drive-through, but don’t skip out on dinner either. If you know that you are going to be working late or spending extra time out of the house, pack yourself a healthy dinner to eat around 7 PM.
Work out first — If you find yourself forced to eat late-night dinners, try to at least hit the gym first. Eating late at night after hitting the gym can actually help to speed up muscle repair and recovery, and you’ll find that sleeping after working out is a wonderful feeling!