I came across an article today reporting on the findings of a recent study suggesting that eating late at night can, in fact, thwart your weight management efforts. You can read the article here:
That Late-night Snack: Worse Than You Think
Were you shocked by this info?
I agree, no surprise or epiphany there. I think most of us subconsciously know that eating late is not good for us.
These findings, however, are great news for the many health and fitness professionals, such as myself, that have always advocated against late-night eating. This despite the fact that some of the other "experts" as well as conflicting research has suggested otherwise at times. As I work with clients and manage my personal fitness, the notion that you are not more inclined to store excess, aka unused, calories late at night is counter intuitive and habitually eating late has seldom yielded positive results. During the day, after all, you are more active but becoming less and less so as the day winds down to sleep. Since food is fuel, it makes sense that you burn more calories while you are more active than you do when you are less active. So where, then, does that excess fuel, aka calories, go if your body isn't using it? Intuitively, we all know. On the hips, the thighs, the abdomen and any where else our bodies store fat.
So, to encourage YOUR fitness success, take a look at your meal timing. Strive to eat most of your calories during day time hours, eating less and winding your intake down as the day progresses. A great saying to keep in mind is "eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, and dinner like pauper."
If you prefer to graze during the day to keep your energy level more constant, another option is to eat 4-5 small meals throughout the day. For instance, breakfast, lunch and dinner might be 500-600 calories with a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks of 200 calories each. Spacing your meals so that you are not experiencing large spans of time with no food can also keep you from becoming over-hungry and susceptible to overeating.
Whether the benefits are physiological or simply due to behavior modification (as in less calories/snacking), your weight management and weight loss success can be promoted by monitoring how late you eat at night. Strive to finish your last meal by 6-7pm and get your energy from sleeping at night, not snacking.