Turn Setbacks into Setups

Is It Bad To Eat At Night? Here’s The Scoop On Evening Hunger

October 28, 2018

It’s been a busy day, and dinner was just a few bites here and there. Around 11, just before heading off to bed, your evening hunger sets in. You head to the fridge but stop yourself from opening it as you glance at the clock. You head to bed, still feeling hungry, and have a restless night, yet you imagine you’re doing good for your waistline. What wrong with this scenario?


Is it really all that bad to eat in the evening? So many people who are health conscious or watching their weight refuse to eat after a certain time at night. Eating after a certain time is said to result in weight gain, but it’s not so clear-cut. We will look at why this diet “rule” does more harm than good in a person’s life, as well as the science behind eating at night, to determine whether or not you should do away with night time snacking.

Why is it recommended to not eat at night?

Proponents of this oft-referenced dieting rule state that eating late at night just packs on calories that are not going to get burned any time soon. On the surface it would seem to make sense. Evening hunger results in you grabbing a quick snack at night, your body takes in those calories, then you go to sleep, during which you only burn around 63 calories an hour (for the average 150 lb. person). As a result, those who follow this rule believe, those calories get stored as fat rather than becoming used for energy. But is this really true?



What’s the real deal?

Eating is all about calories in and calories out. What matters more in terms of what’s getting stored as fat is the total amount of calories you ate that day. If you ate more calories than you expended, those calories will be stored as fat regardless of whether they were eaten at 11 p.m. or 11 a.m. There isn’t even an agreed upon time for the cut off point after which you shouldn’t eat. Some say 8, some say 9, etc., who decides when this “ideal time” is? And what about those who have a later-than-usual bedtime?

What harm can this cause?

I see too many people opting for just a plain salad while eating out in the evening, or saying they don’t eat carbs after X o’ clock. Is it really worth it to deprive yourself? If you’re at a fancy evening event or a late business meal, will you really be at your best emotionally and mentally if you’re feeling deprived of what you really want to eat or what everyone else is eating? Or if you experience evening hunger at home, will turning down a night time snack be worth going to bed hungry? This “rule” often causes more mental torment than results.

The bottom line

So remember, dieting really is all about calories in and calories out. An occasional late dinner out is no reason to punish yourself with a boring meal. Enjoy, and do a workout or take a jog the next day to help balance it out if you feel the need. Feeling hungry in the evening after dinner does not mean you’re doomed to a restless night. Opting for healthier eating in general can also help you justify the occasional “splurge” to yourself, as well as help you feel good in the process!

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