Many of us believe, or have been told that eating a meal late in the evening will prevent weight loss, or even worse, will make us put on weight.
For those of us living a life of going to work during the day, or going to study, or just being busy and awake during daytime, as opposed to those on night shifts, our metabolism does slow down later in the evening as it prepares for the night rest. However, our body still burns calories at night, as our hearts continues to beat, blood still needs to flow through our body, etc
One important aspect we have to understand when we talk about weight management, is that we gain and lose weight over a period of time, a week, a month, a year. Not hour by hour, nor even day by day. If we consistently eat more calories than we expend over a period of time, we will put on weight. It’s not a daily process. Excess calories will be stored as fat over time, regardless of whether they are taken during the day or the night.
Our body doesn’t really know if a calorie is consumed during the day or the evening. Both a morning calorie or an evening calorie is metabolised in the same way. Which means that in principle there is no real reason not to eat food in the evenings, or having your main meal in the evening.
However, many of us tend to skip meals during the day, or leave a too long a gap between lunch and dinner, and come home from work or school and feel very hungry, if not starving.
Do you eat a snack before dinner, just to make sure that starving feeling is gone before eating dinner? Or do you eat dinner, and then sit down in front of the TV, or read a book, and somehow snack a little more?
If you don’t snack at all, nor before the meal, or after, but are quite hungry when coming home, there is a chance that you will eat larger portion sizes. Or, chances are you will opt for an easy ready-made meal, or take away.
And if you’re a snacker, what are you snacking on? Crisps, pop corn, chocolate, few biscuits, or even ice cream. When eaten before or after the meal as a snack, this can quickly lead to over eating, and excess calories.
So setting yourself a time limit on when to stop eating, should help with slashing the calorie intake, as once you finish your dinner and reach that specified time, you are not allowed to snack on anything else. Hence the snacking of high calorie and fat foods can’t happen.
But as a rule, providing you stick to your daily calorie allowance, you will lose weight or maintain your current weight, regardless of the time you consume those calories.
One thing to keep in mind, is that consuming a large amount of food before bedtime, even if it’s still within your daily calorie allowance, might result in indigestion and a bad night sleep. This could potentially trigger you to eat more during the following few days. Sleep is a regulator of two hormones that affect appetite, and research consistently show that sleep deprived people tend to feel a drastic increase in hunger, hence tend to overeat.
So don’t worry about eating in the evening, unless you eat large amount of food then. Just eat a normal meal, keep to your daily calorie allowance, and don’t snack, and you shouldn’t worry about putting on weight.