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Does Eating Late at Night Affect Weight Gain?

Updated on September 9, 2016

Ric Drasin Talks Carbs

How & what you eat is worth examining

Losing excess weight can sometimes be a herculean task for those with more than a few pounds to shed. Making things even more difficult would be different resources for tips and advice offer conflicting information. For example, there are resources presenting weight loss motivational tips suggesting eating late at night contributes to excess weight gain while equally credible resources suggest the time you eat does not play a significant role in gaining weight.

Perhaps it would be best to shed a little light on the subject of how and when you eat affects weight loss. A better understanding might even help you to maximize your weight loss potential.

It Is All About the Calories

One thing to be very mindful of would be the fact that how much you eat will always dictate whether or not you gain or lose weight. Eating more calories than you burn results in the excess being stored as fat. Overeating and not burning off the calories through a proper exercise routine will contribute to obesity far more than what time of the day or evening you eat.

Consider this the most inspirational of all weight loss motivation tips: as long as you are creating a calorie deficit in a 24 hour period, you will lose weight. This is simply how the human body's metabolism works. Even a bad diet from a nutritional perspective can lead to weight loss. However, you do not want to undermine your success potential by eating foods that are low in nutritional value and high in calories and consume these foods at a time when your body cannot efficiently burn calories.

This means you do not want to get into the habit of being a late night snacker if you live a sedentary lifestyle. However, someone that is very active might not see negative results from eating late.

Being Active During the Day Can Mean Getting Away with Eating at Night

Yes, those that do live an active and healthy lifestyle may be able to get away with eating late at night even if some of their choices are not the most nutritious. If you perform a half hour of cardio work per day and lift heavy weights three days per week, you probably can snack a little at night within reason. In other words, if you get into the habit of eating late night pizzas you will undermine much of your healthier lifestyle habits. However, a half a cup of ice cream might end up not doing as much harm as you would think due to the expedited metabolism you would gain from working out regularly.

The Evening Cut Off Time

That said, there is still much merit to the notion that not eating late at night is a wise strategy when trying to lose weight. Anyone wishing to see the maximum weight loss results should get into the habit of cutting off all eating after 6pm onwards since this would work well with the body's natural metabolic function.

Yes, the human body does burn calories during the evening and it does so to fuel basic metabolic functions. If you eat anything right before going to bed, your body will not be able to target stored fat as efficiently as it would if you had your last meal at 6pm and went to bed at 9pm. Again, people can lose weight even by eating at night but you definitely will increase your potential to lose weight if you curtail eating early in the evening. For those having trouble shedding excess weight, this approach may prove to be among the easiest steps you could take.

As with any other weight loss motivation tips, you will find yourself more willing to stop eating after 6pm the minute results become evident. Granted, it may require you to break old eating habits but if you truly wish to lose weight, you will find yourself willing to make the necessary changes. Plus, when you begin to notice clear weight loss results, you will easily be motivated not to eat after a certain time of the evening.

Carbs and Sundown Do Not Go Well Together

Another one of the very basic weight loss motivation tips to follow would be to cut carbohydrates in the evenings. Reducing the amount of carbohydrates you eat at night will definitely contribute to losing weight. Carbs release glucose which is burned for energy. When glucose levels are depleted, the body will burn fat for fuel. Not eating carbs at night means less glucose to burn which means more fat burning while you sleep. This is why many health conscious late night snackers will opt for low calorie, lean protein snacks as opposed to common sugary ones.

Being Slightly Active at Night Boosts Metabolism

Most are well aware of the notion you should not perform any high intensity workouts too late in the evening because doing so can affect your ability to sleep. One hour of aerobics followed by one hour of Muay Thai kickboxing is not going to make it easy for you to doze off the minute you get home at 10pm.

A better idea might be to do about a half hour of walking an hour or so prior to going to sleep. The low impact nature of walking does not rev the heart rate up to such a degree falling asleep becomes a chore. Better yet, you have burned a few calories and have impacted your metabolism. (The muscle tissue in you legs has to be repaired) So, while you sleep, that slightly boosted metabolism is going to help you burn off more than a few calories. The minimal compensation for the calories you eat at night is going to have some effect. Some is, of course, better than nothing.

Common Sense Rules All Diets

Probably the best weight loss motivation tip that can be offered would be to use good dietary common sense. If you eat late at night, you have to be mindful of how many calories you consume and burn (via exercise and other physical activities) during the day. It really is that simple.


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