Is there any truth to the conventional wisdom that nighttime eating makes you fat? Many of us have heard this admonition over the years, but is it a nutrition myth we should continue to perpetuate?
Yes, you can become fat from eating at night, but the time of day you are eating really has nothing to do with it.
Of course, we have all probably heard that if we eat after some given time in the evening, the food will just lay around in our gut. You would think that our internal bodily functions just turn off at some random time in the evening when hearing this. The truth is, that is just a load of hooey. If you believe this nonsense, here is a news flash for you – calories don’t count for more at night than during the day. You will not gain weight by merely eating later as long as you eat within your daily caloric needs.
When it comes to eating, it does not matter what time of the day you are eating. What matters is what you are eating and how much of it. Most people who eat at night tend to mindlessly munch away on high-calorie foods while unwinding in front of the TV after a long, stressful day. The problem is, most people who do this have already eaten an evening dinner and then snack on sweet or salty snacks which are high in calories and low on nutritional value. Those who tend to eat in the middle of the night, are also prone to grazing their refrigerator and pantry for whatever is easy. And the easy foods are very poor choices the majority of the time.
Our metabolism does slow down some at night, but there is no switch that gets flicked to turn it off. It never quits working no matter if you are up and running around or laying in bed asleep. Only death or disease can turn off your bodily functions. No matter what you might have been told, calories consumed during the middle of the night will not change your metabolism. Those calories you ate last night while grazing your refrigerator did not count more than the calories you eat for lunch. So no, nighttime eating makes you fat only when you are eating too many calories.
Do the math!
Weight gain and weight loss comes down to a simple math equation. If you eat more calories than your body burns, you are going to gain weight. Time of day does not matter in this equation! Additionally, it does not matter even if you eat low calorie, nutritionally dense foods. Once you go over your caloric needs, those excess calories are going to get stored as excess fat in your body.
Does nighttime eating make you fat?
The bottom line is, when you eat is not as important as what you eat or how much you consume. Your body doesn’t store more fat at night, and your metabolism does not slow down in the evening hours.
In general, there is no set time to cutoff eating, so long as you do not exceed your caloric needs. If you’re eating at night, don’t go about it mindlessly. No matter what time of day you eat, do so with purpose, a purpose in mind to fuel your body with healthy nutrients to keep you well.