Eat late, put on weight?

People often ask whether eating late makes a difference to weight loss. Well, it’s overall energy intake and expenditure that’s key, but actually what time you eat in the evening can make a significant difference to your fat-loss progress, so yes – if you eat late, you might put on weight because;

  • When you eat late you’re more likely to snack between lunch and dinner. So when it comes to meal time you’ve eaten extra food but may not reduce your meal accordingly. So you take in more energy than you need.
  • Eating late can often mean that you’re very hungry when it comes to meal time. So much so that you serve yourself too much, go back for seconds, or eat while cooking.
  • Eating late can be a symptom of a stressful lifestyle – commuting, fitting in exercise, dealing with the children and so on are all stressors. So when you come to eat – late – you’re more likely to give in to stress’s crazy influence on appetite, and overeat.
  • Eating late usually means sitting down straight afterwards and then going to sleep relatively soon after that. Not the best way to aid digestion. Digesting and metabolising your food well is important for good health, being upright and moving around literally helps your food ‘go down’.
  • Eating late might mean you have a more restless sleep. Waking in the night is a stressor to the body; stress causes the release of certain hormones that influence fat storage, especially abdominal fat.
  • Eating starchy carbohydrates (pasta, rice, potatoes and so on) late at night then not using them for their purpose – to provide energy – means the main place they head to is into fat storage. When you eat carbs (and there’s nothing wrong with quality carbs per se) you need to be thinking about using them for energy production, rather than sleeping.

Having said the above, if you eat too early, you might then sit and nibble throughout the evening or get the bedtime munchies! Find a time which reduces the chances of eating extra. Maybe 6:30-7pm. If you really can’t eat earlier in the evening, for whatever reason, consider having at least some of your main meals at lunchtime and move the smaller meal to the evening.

The stomach is a slave that must accept everything that is given to it, but which avenges wrongs as slyly as does the slave.
Emile Souvestre

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