Will eating at night cause me to gain weight?

Will eating at night cause me to gain weight

It’s late and you want nothing more than to sit in bed and snack on something while you de-stress at the end of the day. Unfortunately, you have that voice in the back of your head that keeps telling you that eating late at night is bad for you. It’s a common belief that eating late at night will cause you to gain weight. The question is, will eating at night really cause you to gain weight? Let’s find out.

Calories at night

Most of us have been told that because our metabolism slows down at night, that anything you eat at night is going to be turned into fat more easily than calories consumed during the day. There doesn’t seem to be conclusive evidence to support this idea. However, studies have found that people who eat at night are more likely to gain weight.  If our bodies aren’t more likely to hold onto calories at night, what is causing weight gain? Habits.

Bad habits of late night eating

There are a few reasons eating at night contributes to weight gain. All of which revolve around our habits and decision making late at night. These include:

  • Going over your calorie needs for the day. If you eat all of your needed calories during the day, and then eat a late-night snack, you’ll exceed your calorie needs for the day. 
  • Your decision making is impaired at night. Most of us are more likely to make healthy choices during the day. At night, we break out the candy, chips, or ice cream. It’s difficult to make good choices when you are tired and snacky. 
  • You eat in front of the TV or your smartphone. At the end of the day, it’s not uncommon to sit and relax in front of the TV. When you snack in front of the TV, you're more likely to overeat. This mindless eating can cause weight gain.

Tips for eating at night

Although it’s an oft debated topic, some experts actually recommend eating something small before bed. When you can curb bad habits, it’s a good way to help you sleep, eat less overall, and maintain consistent blood sugar throughout the day. Here’s how to eat at night without causing havoc on your health.

  • Plan it out. Don’t reach for a snack every night without a plan. You don’t want to go over your calorie count for the day, so try to “save” enough calories in your daily calorie count for a late-night snack if you find that you need something every night.
  • Skip the desserts and junk foods. It’s what everyone craves before bed, but filling up on sweet treats or chips will just make you crave more. These calorie laden foods make it easy to overeat. 
  • Pair your carbs and proteins. When you have to have a snack before bed, make sure it includes complex carbs and protein that will help you feel full longer.

Don’t let late-night snacking get the best of you. If you have to eat a snack before bed, do it the smart way.

For diet and nutrition help, make an appointment with a dietitian at a LiVe Well Center near you.