Since time immemorial, many people have had the vehement need to lose weight, and for that reason, they have been creating beliefs and followers of them; however, what is not known is that many of these ‘beliefs’ may be wrong, and instead of helping your body, you may be hurting it.
This is the case when some people report that eating at night can cause an absolute weight gain; however, this can be misleading, because in reality what you eat is much more important than when you eat.
If you have believed that eating late at night makes you fat, you may have been living and believing a lie. Discover when, how and why this opinion was created, and the real consequences of eating at night.
Relationship of the circadian rhythm with eating
The circadian rhythm is no more than the 24-hour cycle that tells your body when to sleep, eat and wake up, and according to it, the night is to rest, not to eat. In this way, the idea that eating at night causes weight gain comes from animal studies and their circadian rhythm, which suggests that the body can use the calories consumed differently after certain times of the day.
All this was extracted thanks to a study done to mice, which concluded that those who ate as opposed to their circadian rhythm gain significantly more weight than the mice that only ate during waking hours; Even eating the same amount of food. On the other hand, studies in humans indicate that it is not necessarily the time when you eat what matters, but what you eat.
A study of 1300 young humans states that late eaters did not seem to consume more total calories. However, when implementing the same study to 52 adults, they found that those who ate beyond 8 pm consumed more total calories than previous eaters. However, it was clarified that people who gained weight, did so because of the amount of food eaten, not related to the time of day they ate.
Do late eaters eat more?
Generally, when you are tired and exhausted from a long productive day, you get home to eat, and a hunger attack may come as a result. In this way, the problem is not eating at night, but the amounts we ingest due to the exhaustion of our body that needs to recharge.
It is important that, despite believing that you need more food to feel satisfied, measure everything that you put in your mouth, because although at the moment we are not satisfied, if we consume the right portion, after a few minutes you will realize that Yes, it was enough.
Researchers analyzed the relationship between mealtime and total caloric intake of 59 people, concluding that those who ate closer to bedtime consumed more calories in general than those who ate before the last meal. Another study found that people who ate between 11 pm and 5 am consumed approximately 500 more calories per day than those who limited their intake to daytime hours.
Therefore, eating at night can lead to a weight gain only if an excess of calories is ingested.
Eating late can affect the choice of food
Generally, when eating at the usual times; that is, breakfast, lunch and dinner, we have a greater possibility of choosing healthy foods, since we take the time and usually we take great care in making the food that we are going to eat. In contrast, late eaters often select unhealthy, high-calorie foods with little nutritional value, such as chips, sodas and ice cream.
This is due to many reasons. On the one hand, night eaters may not have easy access to healthy foods. A clear example is people who work at night shifts. Many studies suggest that night workers tend to eat unhealthy foods, as there may be a lack of healthy options available in the workplace during the night.
Eating due to stress, anxiety, boredom or sadness, will be a factor of vital importance in the choice of our food, because sweets and unhealthy foods are much more attractive at that time. It is not necessary to say, in addition, that we do not measure the quantities and exceed the limits pre-established by our body. Also being tired makes us want more and more of those meals; this is due to all the hormonal changes that influence the appetite during sleep deprivation.
Again, when it comes to gaining weight, what you eat is more important than when you eat. So if you are really hungry after dinner, it is better to choose foods rich in nutrients that provide fewer calories.
Ideal time and frequency to eat
Changing the schedule and frequency of meals can be a strategy to reduce total calorie intake by controlling hunger, as research shows that there may be ways to regulate appetite over time and the frequency of meals.
For example, several studies indicate that eating a high-calorie breakfast can keep you satiated longer and, possibly, avoid overeating at night. On the other hand, breakfast may not be necessary if you eat at night, at least not at the traditional time. Therefore, you must follow your natural indications that you are hungry and you may find yourself eating your first meal later than usual.
There are also some studies that explain that eating small snacks can help reduce anxiety and appetite; however, all this will depend on the body of each one. Always remember that not all organisms are the same, and therefore, react in different ways to the foods that are eaten.
Eating at night does not necessarily mean that you will gain weight: everything will depend on the amount of food you are going to consume.
It is important that if after dinner your appetite wakes up, look for the healthiest route and select low-calorie foods, which are also rich in nutrients. On the other hand, you can choose to avoid this type of situation and eat a good breakfast or small snacks so that when night falls you feel satisfied and anxiety does not take up space in your nightlife.
Related Article: Late Night Eating Does It Make Weight Gain