There is certainly evidence to suggest that people who are eating late at night are heavier than those who don’t. But is that just because they eat more at other times too, so have a higher calorie intake overall?
In some cases, yes. Also, many studies don’t account for the fact that some people eat late at night because of shift-work or social reasons, which can leave them sleep-deprived. And if you are tired you are more likely to reach for high fat, high sugar foods the next day. Result…weight gain! But it’s more the fault of the tiredness than the late-night eating itself.
I haven’t seen too many good quality studies showing that people who eat late at night weigh more than others if they eat the same number of calories overall. And some studies seem to show no effect of meal timing on weight.
That being said, there is an increasing number of studies that show how our natural circadian rhythm has a big part to play in our general health, including affecting the risk of metabolic disorders such as diabetes or fatty liver disease – and so I suspect that eating late isn’t good for our weight control. Not to mention raising the likelihood of acid reflux due to lying down with a full stomach. That can result in poor sleep in itself…leading to more high-calorie snacking the next day.
So, my advice is to avoid over-eating before bed. It may possibly help weight-loss – but is likely to be of benefit in other ways too.
Feature courtesy of Dr Sally Norton (an NHS weight-loss consultant surgeon) www.vavistalife.com