That’s the wives tale.
They say that if you eat after 8pm or so that the calories eaten will be more likely to turn into fat than if they were eaten earlier in the day. The main reason being that it’s close to bed time and so when you eat late at night your body doesn’t have a chance to burn off any of those calories as you will be sleeping soon.
When you sleep your metabolism slows down of course and so you have a stomach full of food with nowhere to go. Your brain is working less and your muscles not at all and so the energy gets stored as fat.
That would all be somewhat true if the old beliefs about weight loss were correct, which they aren’t.
Our psyche still holds onto the great calorie counting myth. It’s been there in every instance and facet of our lives starting in the home, then in school, coaches, T.V, doctors, nutritionists etc. So it makes sense that when we talk about anything weight loss related that our brains automatically start from that framework without us being aware of it.
We have to constantly remind ourselves, “Oh yeah, it’s not like that anymore,” every time we evaluate a position or some new bit of information on the topic. And that’s fine as it takes time for new ways of thinking to take hold. This is why it needs to be repeated often like any new skill or way of doing things.
THE NEW MYTH
We understand now that weight loss has to do with controlling your insulin. So the question now is:
If we come from the conceptual school of insulin management, will eating late at night cause me to gain weight, or make it more likely for me to gain weight?
Now we can dig into the question properly.
To start, I’ll repeat that the best ways to keep our insulin low (which is the primary goal) and become more insulin sensitive are to eat low-carb, intermittent fast and exercise (especially high intensity exercise). None of those have anything to do with eating late vs eating early, so it would seem that the answer to our question is no, eating late won’t put on more pounds.
There is evidence that says that we are more insulin sensitive in the morning, so if you isolated your diet off from the rest of your life and took ONLY that aspect into account, then yes, it would be better to eat in the morning. That’s just how our circadian rhythm’s work.
Being insulin sensitive means that our cells don’t need us to release as much insulin from our pancreas to do the job required. Less insulin is good. Keeping insulin low over long periods of time leads to weight loss and better health.
Eating later on in the evening would mean we’d be less insulin sensitive and so we’d have to release more insulin to do the same job.
So now it seems like the answer to our question is yes, eating later on at night will make us gain weight.
BUT (yet again) …
… it isn’t really that big of a difference. Meaning if you’re managing your insulin to lose weight in some capacity then the insulin sensitivity difference above between day and night eating isn’t enough to really affect your weight loss objectives.
The perfect diet culture would have us eating one big meal in the morning and then fast the rest of the day. And nobody would ever move to that country.
We’d miss out on important social time as we usually eat together in the evenings, and also miss out on the opportunity to slow down gradually before bed. If we didn’t stop in the evening to eat a larger meal, we’d keep on working or just be busy “doing” and our sleep quality would decline which would lead to bigger problems.
TARGET IN SIGHT
To eat, drink and be slim, simply focus on these 3 things:
1- Eat in a way that manages insulin.
2- Eat with other people and take advantage of that valuable social time.
3- Eat to enjoy your food.
Keep those main points in mind over the long haul and you can eat guilt free when it’s dark outside.
THE EATING LOVE GUIDE (FREE)
The Eating Love Guide has helped many people regain control of their eating patterns, resulting not only in weight loss but also better health and improved self-esteem. To read it online, click here.