Late Night Eating. Is It Really That Bad?
It is common to see generalized statements such as “stop eating after 6 p.m. or it will turn to fat” or “do cardio 3 times per week for 30 minutes and you will lose weight”, etc. And while these blanket statements may have some truth in them, they will not apply to everyone.
One premise behind not eating after 6 p.m. is that these calories will not get “burned” before bedtime and thus might be stored as fat. This will not apply to everyone, as some people may be very active after dinner, or others may stay up several hours after dinner. I would agree, that you should not eat after 6 p.m. if you are very inactive in the evening or if you go to bed at an early hour. Eating before bed, especially carbohydrates, will promote the storage of fat as you are inactive during sleep and your body may not actually need these calories.
If you are a very active person after dinner or if you burn the midnight oil, it can be feasible to eat something after 6 p.m. It is not usually good for someone to go for several hours without eating, except when sleeping, and if you eat at 6 p.m., but stay up till 1 a.m., then a healthy snack is acceptable.
When eating late at night remember that some carbohydrates cause your blood sugar to rise and then your body releases insulin which promotes the storage of fat (if you body does not need the calories), so sticking with protein or a carbohydrate that do not raise your blood sugar would be the best choice. For more information on this, read my article on the Glycemic Index.
Another premise behind not eating late at night is simply calorie control. For many of us, the food we have eaten throughout the day has given us the needed nutrition and anything else is excess. With the large portions and poor choices that we tend to eat, extra calories at the end of the day are simply not necessary. Fat is stored energy, anything that goes in our mouth that is not needed get stored in places that you don’t want it!
There is always more to offering fitness advice than blanket statements of “just do this”. A true fitness professional needs personal history and answers to many other variables to set you on the easiest and most accurate path of success.