Eating at Night Causes Weight Gain

November 12, 2012

Eating at Night Causes Weight Gain

The reasons given have always been vague but it seems to have been accepted as public wisdom that if you eat at night then you will put on weight easier than if you ate the same thing earlier in the day. But many people think that if you eat 100 calories now or last thing at night then it’s still 100 calories. This is known as ‘calorie in – calorie out’ theory in the dieticians’ world.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Weight Control Information Network web site takes the ‘calorie in – calorie out’ view and says that it doesn’t matter when you eat. It further states “It is what and how much you eat and how much physical activity you do during the whole day that determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight”. But Adele Davis, the well known nutritional commentator always took the line that people should “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”.

Then to add to the debate a recent study published in the journal Obesity says that night time eating adds twice as much weight. Put another way, the researchers from Northwestern University are stating that if something is eaten during the day it will only put on half the weight it would put on if you ate it in the evening or night! This study was not carried out on humans though, mice were the ‘guinea pigs’. It’s believed that other academics may be saying that further research is required.

If it’s late in the evening then you are probably not eating because of hunger. There must be another reason. Some people say that it is boredom, others feel stressed and others just feel the need for a craving, perhaps a ‘sugar rush’. The excess calories consumed at times like these are not normally contained in healthy foods like fruit, the majority of people snack on higher calorie foods like fast food, microwave meals and the like. Any opened packets of cookies or cakes may soon disappear too. There is no regulation or control to the eating pattern if you are sitting watching TV or using the computer.

A benefit of having meals earlier and about 4 hours apart is that your body’s sugar levels are regulated and this has the effect of reducing feelings of hunger. It is recommended to eat 90% of your calories before 8pm. This leaves you with few options if you want to binge. But it does not shut down a variety of healthier and lighter foods. Many of the low fat yoghurts or low calorie energy bars are fine as is fruit or even a small helping of a normal non fatty food.

In some ways though, not eating too late in the evening can be considered common sense. If you eat too much then a good night’s sleep will probably be impossible, you could also have indigestion too. There are many dietary books published by reasonable and intelligent people encouraging others to avoid food at night so perhaps there is something in it. From a research point of view the statement that eating at night causes more weight gain must still be considered inconclusive. As they say, ” more research is required”.

Tags: ,

Category: Articles