My husband and I have a debate almost every night about what time to have dinner. I want to eat early he wants later, around 8-9 pm. He calls me Oprah and don‘t believe everything i hear. Well, for once he was right. You can eat late at night.
When you eat is not as important as how much you consume or the foods you choose to enjoy. Your body does not store more fat at night — or any time or hour of the day.
And your metabolism does not slow down in the evening hours. Weight gain (and loss) is more directly affected by what you eat and how much.
It’s one thing to make a claim, and it’s something completely different to prove it. That‘s why Israeli researchers decided to test the myth that eating at night led to more weight gain. What they found was groundbreaking for anyone who believes that eating after 7 pm will make you fat.
In the 6-month study, the scientists compared people who ate their most substantial meal at breakfast to those who ate their largest meal at dinner (8 p.m. or later). The results: the late-night eaters lost more fat than the people who ate a big breakfast. And it wasn‘t insignificant either; they lost an average of 10.5% more body fat.
And that was just the start of the interesting results that turned diet folklore on its head. When the dust settled, the research offered evidence that late-night eating isn‘t your weight loss enemy. And it wasn’t just one study. Other studies have found that people who eat 70 percent of their calories after 7 p.m. (compared to eating more calories earlier in the day) preserved more muscle mass and lost more body fat
So how did this belief spread? It‘s a classic story of the metabolism myth. Before you question why late-night eating doesn‘t actually make you gain weight, it‘s important to understand how your body processes calories.
Every time you put food in your mouth, you burn calories. This process is known as the “thermic effect of food” (or TEF). When you eat, your digestive machinery works hard to break down the food and convert the food into energy.
Of all the foods you eat, protein is the most metabolically expensive—your body needs more energy to break down. You burn up to 30 percent of the calories you eat from protein are burned during the digestion process. The more protein you eat, the more calories you burn. Carbohydrates are less metabolically active (about 6 to 8 percent burned), and fats are the least metabolically active (about 4 percent burned) despite being the highest in calories.
The reality is that your body doesn’t care about how many meals you eat. You can choose how often you want to eat every day. More importantly, your metabolism isn’t dependent on when you eat, but rather what you eat.
The thermic effect of food is directly proportional to caloric intake and the foods you eat. There will be no metabolic difference between eating a big breakfast, a small breakfast, or breakfast at all. The same goes for the size of your dinner
The bottom line: when you have your meals does not directly influence weight gain.
When in doubt, always remember that calories matter. It’s like a bank account. You only get so many calories per day, and it’s up to you to choose when you spend them.
Whenever you choose to eat, know that the best option for you has much more to do about lifestyle preferences and behavioral triggers than the fear of eating at a particular time or consuming a specific food.
By: Victoria Levinger