“Does not eating after 7pm help you lose weight?” I have heard this question countless times. We’re exposed to so many messages telling us that stopping eating at a certain hour will melt away pounds or that certain foods are magically digested at night. What are the facts and what should you do? Read on and find out!
How does eating late affect the body?
We are starting to build a fair amount of research on this topic. Some of these studies compare the effects of eating only during the day with also eating later into the night. Researchers have observed that eating late at night can lead to:
- Increased weight
- Raised insulin and fasting glucose levels
- Raised cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Fewer fats and more carbs metabolized
- Negative effects on hormonal markers associated with heart disease and diabetes
- Greater incidence of acid reflux
- Waking up feeling hungrier than usual
In contrast, people in studies who stuck to daytime eating experienced:
- Reduced calorie intake
- Weight loss of about 1/2 pound a week
- An earlier peak in the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin along with a later peak of the satiating hormone leptin which may help people to be prompted to eat earlier and stay satisfied longer which may in turn help prevent overeating at night.
How does it work?
There is no magic hour associated with the positive effects of eating earlier. It comes down to common sense. We don’t eat late at night because we’re hungry. We might be bored, tired or simply acting out of habit. Regardless, we take in extra calories that are likely to be stored as fat, as digestion slows down when we rest. And let’s face it, when you eat late at night you don’t tend to go for apples or broccoli, do you?
What should I do to see these benefits?
Everyone’s schedule is different depending on when they get off work and all of life’s other commitments. So pick a dinner time that makes sense for you and be consistent as much as possible. If you can eat dinner at least a few hours before going to bed to give yourself more time to digest, even better! You really shouldn’t have any reason to eat until you wake up in the morning, if you’re enjoying a balanced dinner with starchy vegetables, lean protein and whole grains.
I hope you can add this information to your wellness toolbox and that it helps to make eating, feeling, and living better a little easier. Stay blessed!