Does eating late at night cause weight gain?

Eating late at night seems a bad idea, as most people snack before bed, consuming more calories. But, eating before bed doesn’t necessarily cause weight gain. It’s just a myth. Eating healthy food, low in calories late at night isn’t bad for you. There is no need to sleep hungry.

Can you eat at night and still lose weight?

Absolutely. Eating late at night doesn’t mean that you’ll gain weight. The only rule you have to remember is that you have to be in calorie deficit.

That means that you have to consume fewer calories for losing weight. Eating time isn’t important. The most important thing is the total food you consume, throughout the day. Your body still needs energy while you sleep.

Certainly, eating a high-carb meal, such as pasta, late at night isn’t good for weight loss. You should consume most calories at breakfast or at lunch.

Why eating late at night is bad for losing weight?

So, why food before bedtime has a bad reputation?

Because most people tend to snacking before bed. Snacking means more consumed calories. More calories from a meal, more total calories per day.

Therefore, it isn’t a good idea to be hungry at night. You’ll probably consume more calories than you need, gaining weight.

In other words, eating late at nigh is emotional eating.

At night, you’re tired and just want to relax. It’s easy to reward yourself with sugary and tasty food. Before you know it, you’ll have consumed thousands of calories. That’s why you should avoid snacking at night, if you want to lose weight.

Does not eating after 7pm help lose weight?

It’s a common belief that avoiding eating after 7-8pm will help you lose weight. Is this true? Yes and no.

Intermediate fasting may help you lose weight

Not eating after 7pm may help you lose weight because you close your eating window. What does it mean?

If you typically eat from 8am to 11pm you consume your daily calories between a 15-hour window. On the contrary, if you limit your window of eating to 11 hours per day (8am-7pm) you’ll have 4 hours less to eat. This eating pattern seems beneficial for many people.

Limiting the total hours of the day that you can actually eat food is called intermediate fasting. There are many types of intermediate fasting. The 2 most popular are the 16:8 and 20:4. According to these eating patterns you’re allowed to eat for 4 or 8 hours (fast for 20h or16h accordingly).

Following an eating pattern helps people who eat emotionally. It’s easier to control yourself this way.

Think it this way… Every time you start eating, you have to stop. It demands disciple. If you eat 6 meals a day, you have to disciple 6 times a day. On the other hand, if you have only 3 meals a day, you have to control yourself 3 times less…

Therefore, not eating after 7pm can actually help some people lose weight.

Will I lose weight if I go to bed hungry?

So, you decide to avoid eating late at night. Are you gonna lose weight? Once again, it highly depends on the total calorie intake.

Sum all the calories from all the meals of the day. If you’re in calorie deficit, you’ll lose weight. Otherwise, you’ll gain weight. So simple…

Certainly, skipping dinner is good for consuming fewer calories in a day. But it isn’t necessary to go to bed hungry, just to lose weight. Eating a low-calorie dinner, 1-2 hours before bed is good for you. Especially if you eat melatonin containing foods. Melatonin promotes deep sleep. More for this, in a minute…

What is the best food to eat at night for weight loss?

Do you want to snack before bed? Above all, you shouldn’t eat calorie-dense food. It’s almost certainly that they’ll prevent you from losing weight.

Above all, avoid fatty foods. For instance, vegetable oils. They’re the most calorie-dense food category. Moreover, avoid high-card food. Cereals, potatoes, and sweets are foods that late night eaters should avoid.

A healthy late night dinner is salads

The best food to eat at night for weight loss should be filling and low in calories. Salads are a great example. Salads not only are low in calories, they’re packed with nutrients, as well.

Furthermore, there are so many greens you could use. Besides lettuce, kale, spinach, arugula, beet greens, cabbage, dandelion greens, and many more are good for you. They all have unique health benefits.

Furthermore, you could add microgreens or sprouts for boosting the daily nutrient intake. Microgreens are particularly high in nutrients, but low in calories. They’re great in salads.

One last tip… Be extra careful about your dressing. Most dressings are particularly high in fat. If you want to deal with late night cravings, salads are great food options. You can eat as much as you want. Just avoid fatty dressings. Use spices, lemon juice, and mustard instead. They are low in calories.

Above all, avoid vegetable oils. They’re super calorie-dense foods. Just a tablespoon of any vegetable oil contains about 120 calories.

Popcorn is good for snacking before bed

Moreover, you could eat popcorn. Yes, that’s right. According to the USDA, a cup of popped popcorn has only 75 calories (1).

Another reason why popcorn is great for dinner is that they can keep you full for a long time. They take a lot of space in your stomach. Furthermore, popcorn is high in fiber. Popcorn has 10 gr of dietary fiber per 100 gr. That’s amazing. Just for comparison, spinach has only 2.2 of fiber per 100 gr and cabbage has only 2.5 gr of fiber.

Foods high in fiber are good for weight loss. They keep us full for more, among other health benefits.

Eat melatonin rich foods before bed to help you sleep

Additionally, the best food to eat before bed is foods high in melatonin. The human body naturally produces melatonin during the night. Melatonin acts as an internal clock. It tells the body that it’s time to go to bed. Also, melatonin manipulates many hormones. Furthermore, melatonin can fight obesity.

Pistachios are the richest food in melatonin. Walnuts and almonds are also a good option. Grapes, strawberries, cherries, and bananas contain decent amounts of melatonin, as well. See the whole list of melatonin-rich foods here.

Keep in mind that seeds and nuts are also foods high in calories. Don’t eat too many late at the night. The best way to eat them is in your salad.

So, the best food to eat at night before bed could be a big salad bowl, with low-calorie dressing and some melatonin-rich nuts.

Does meal timing affect weight loss?

There are data that show that meal timing may help you to lose weight. But, don’t worry if you eat late at night. You still can lose weight. You just have to be in a calorie deficit.

Certainly, consuming the most calories of the day in the morning is good for losing weight. Why?

Firstly, thermogenesis from eating food is higher in the morning (2,3).

Thermogenesis means heat production. When we eat food, the human body burns calories, generating heat. That’s a natural process. It seems that the human body produces more heat from food in the morning.

It means that we burn more calories just from eating the same food in the morning than night. Amazing?

Also, there are additional health benefits of eating in the morning, compared with eating late at night.

Eating late at night is bad for you, as the human body becomes more insulin resistant. The human body can use blood sugar more effectively in the morning than at night. Scientists believe that the reason is the circadian rhythm.

The circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process of the human body. It regulates the sleep-wake pattern among others. It repeats roughly every 24 hours. Circadian rhythm regulates biological, physical, mental, and behavioral activities. For instance, circadian rhythm regulates the body temperature and the production of hormones.

So, we are programmed to burn more calories if we eat in the morning, than eating the same food late at night.

The light tells the body that it’s time to move on. Therefore, energy is needed. Our bodies are programmed to extract energy from food more effectively in the morning. This energy is stored as glycogen in the muscles, ready to use.

On the contrary, darkness means that it’s time to rest. So, food isn’t used for instant energy. Food is saved as body fat, for use in the future.

Does this mean that eating before bed will make you fat? Not necessarily. Eating late at night means that you lose this extra benefit of burning effortlessly extra calories. Just by eating in the morning.

The No1 rule in every case is calorie deficit. You have to control yourself, not eating too many calories late at night. This can be tricky if you’re hungry. Even healthy snacking at night can boost weight gain.

How can I stop to always be hungry at night?

Are you constantly hungry at night? You probably don’t consume enough calories throughout the day.

Certainly, skipping breakfast or dinner isn’t a good idea. Your body will be starving. You don’t want this. On the contrary, you should eat the most calories in the morning and noon. In this case, you won’t be hungry late at night.

You shouldn’t starve yourself throughout the day, just to lose weight. You’ll probably eat emotionally before bed. Emotional late night eating has linked to weight gain.

How can I avoid overeating at night?

On the other hand, it’s ok if you’re hungry late at night. You shouldn’t starve. There ‘s a great difference. You can eat healthy low-in-calories food before bed, and still lose weight. Certainly, it highly depends on the food you ate earlier.

Once again, total calorie intake is the most important factor for losing weight.

What’s the best diet for night shift workers?

Night shift workers need to be extra careful about their food choices. Certainly, messing with the circadian rhythm isn’t good for you. There are many studies that have linked night shifts to health diseases, such as cardiovascular disease (4).

So, what should night shift workers eat to stay healthy? They should follow the best possible diet.

A plant-based diet seems the best option. Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and herbs daily. They’re particularly high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are necessary for fighting oxidative stress.

Plants are the only rich food source of antioxidants. Do you need an extra boost? Consume amla powder. It’s the richest common antioxidant source (5).

Furthermore, night shift workers should consume lots of foods high in melatonin. The human body naturally produces melatonin only at night. Moreover, our bodies produce melatonin in the absence of light. So, night shift workers need to eat more melatonin containing foods. Pistachios, walnuts, almonds, cherries, strawberries, grapes, bananas and many more contain high amounts of melatonin.

Last, but not least, the best diet for losing weight for night shift workers has to follow this one rule. Calorie deficit. Above all, we should consume fewer calories than the calories we burn.

Can exercise help people who eat late at night lose weight?

Exercise such as jogging or running is great for your overall health. Moreover, you burn many calories when you run.

If you want to lose weight, especially fat, start running. Running will help you stay in a calorie deficit, without drastically limit the calories you consume daily.

A tiny amount of exercise is much better than no exercise… If you are overweight start walking. There is no need for rush.

Furthermore, there is no need for extreme exercise. Extreme workouts produce free radicals in the body, as a natural byproduct. So, walking or easy running are the best options for someone who just wants to lose weight and improve his health.

Night shift workers and people who sleep late at night can benefit the most.