Will Eating at Night Make Me Gain Weight?
The EXPERTS' TAKE:
We asked our Greatist experts to give their thoughts on the subject. Here's what they had to say:
Lisa Moskovitz: "Since the appetite-regulating hormone ghrelin is better regulated in the morning, it is easier to prevent overeating during the day versus at night. This means that the body's ability to feel full is much stronger in the morning, so we stop eating sooner.
Generally I tell people the most important aspect for managing weight is balancing the number of calories they take in versus the calories that are burned. This is especially true for people who exercise at night or work late hours-they might actually need to eat after 8pm. The time of day is not as important as how eating is timed within each individual's sleep/wake cycle.
Overall, it is better to focus on how often you eat and exactly what you're eating. To support healthy metabolism, and digestion, and manage energy and weight, it's typically best to eat every three or four hours, have breakfast within one or two hours of waking, and stop eating one or two hours before bedtime. And always include some lean protein and fiber-rich complex carbs with every meal and snack."
Sherry Pagoto : "It's also important to realize that night time eaters tend to skip breakfast, which ends up in a vicious cycle where the person is hungrier and more likely to overeat later in the day, and then not hungry for breakfast again. If the total number of calories are consumed each day, it doesn't matter how they're distributed. But eating later in the day may be directly related to eating too little earlier in the day, and it is that pattern that leads to overconsumption. So nighttime snackers should be sure they are having an adequate breakfast and lunch. If they aren't, it may be why they are getting hungry so late."
These answers by Greatist experts Lisa Moskovitz and Sherry Pagoto.
The article was originally published May 2012. It was updated July 2012.