The Truth About That Late Night Snack Before Bed
We all get those late night cravings, whether it’s a bit of desert after the meal or a couple of biscuits before bed. We know that it’s probably not the best idea to eat that little bit of chocolate before bed but what effect does eating late at night actually have.
Everyone’s heard the saying “If you eat before bed your going to get fat!”. Most people have taken this as true and never doubted it. Today we’re going to discuss the effects that late night binges have on your body and health.
Where Did The Rumour Start?
This first came about when researchers found a correlation between individuals who were eating late at night and having a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30 categorising them as obese [see here].
Of Course, once the word got out that late night snacking caused weight gain, health nuts around the world started skipping late night meals claiming “Eating late at night makes you fat!”. Still, to this day there are people and websites that state “If you eat after 8 pm you will get fat”.
One thing to remember is that correlation does not prove causation, so at this point, it was still just a hypothesis with no definitive evidence.
Theories About Eating Before Bed
There are multiple theories that with solid reasoning behind them to back up the fact that eating late at night will result in fat gain. However, it is important to remember that these are still just theories and have either been debunked or not proven.
#1 Metabolism is slower at night
This theory states that your metabolism is slower when you are asleep. That means whilst you are sleeping you are burning fewer calories than when awake. Due to this, eating a meal right before bed will result in less of the calories being burned off.
Fortunately, this is not the case as recent studies showed no significant change in metabolic rates between being asleep vs awake. Your body still functions normally when asleep and actually grows/repairs whilst asleep all resulting in calories being burned.
#2 Increased Insulin Levels
The second theory is based on the fact that eating results in an insulin level increase in the body. An effect of insulin on the body is causing the storage of fat. Therefore late night snacking causes a spike in insulin levels during the night meaning the food eaten would more likely be stored as fat due to higher insulin.
Now although there is a significant difference between insulin levels at night than in the morning there is, however, no difference between insulin levels at mid-day and at night. This, in theory, means that anyone eating after the morning will get fat!
#3 Late Night carbohydrates
Other sayings we’ve all heard are ones like “carbs are the enemy”, “carbs are making you fat” and “If you eat carbs after 6 pm you’ll get fat”. This theory is based around the last one, that carbohydrate intake late at night will result in weight gain. Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy. When not need or in excess, they are stored in the form of Fat or Glycogen.
Although storing carbohydrates in the form of glycogen in the muscles is a good thing, your body only as a limited storage space for them. This means that once this is full any other carbohydrates will be stored as fat. However, the time of day doesn’t have an effect.
The Bottom Line
The main point to remember is that weight gain is primarily to do with calories in vs calories out. If you are eating more calories than your body is burning your will gain weight. If you are consuming fewer calories you will lose weight.
The time of day you eat does not affect weight gain. The fact that individuals who snack late at night and have a BMI have nothing to do with the time. This is due to the fact that late night snacks are normally higher in calories because of increased levels of fat and sugars (chocolate, Ice-cream and Sweets). They had an increased BMI due to excessive intake of calories!
It all comes back to the fact that the biggest thing to remember is calories in vs calories out. Eating before bed will not make you fat!
It is never too late to be what you might have been – George Eliot
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