This one is from the mail bag! Every once in awhile, I will get someone emailing or asking me a question about health and fitness. I LOVE when this happens because chances are if one person has the question, there is someone else out there that can benefit from the answer to that question. If you have a question you would love to see answered, contact me and let me know your questions. All questions are always anonymous. Sometimes, I will post the answer you are looking for without even stating that it was a question! How’s that for 50 shades of sneaky? 🙂 But this one is a question so let’s dive into the answer.
What Time Should I Stop Eating At Night?
This is one of those questions that is extremely hard to answer. And if I answer it one way, there are people that will prove me wrong the other way. Iff I lean the opposite way, I will get attacked from the other side. It is worst than politics sometimes. Every “expert” has their own opinion and have the science to back it up. Me? I am just a guy who tries to think as logical as I can. Yes – there is a TON of science out there on this subject and why you shouldn’t eat before bed and there is just as much science on why it is OK to eat before bed. I try to look at the science and form my opinion on just that – my opinion. You may not like it, but that is OK. I would LOVE to see comments arguing other sides (but keep ’em clean).
Before I embark on the journey of this topic, I want you to take a step back in your life for a moment. I recently went through a facelift on this site. I trimmed it down to the bare minimum design, and broaden the horizon on other topics other than just fitness and nutrition. Why? Because there is more to life than fitness and nutrition. Don’t get me wrong – he who has health has hope and he who has hope has everything (Thomas Carlyle). Fitness and nutrition are a huge aspect to living a good life, but there is SO MUCH MORE than just that.
I mention that reason because most of my answer comes from looking at the topic at hand of eating before bed from that approach – looking at the whole life instead of just the weight loss aspect. So what is my answer? Here it is:
It is OK to eat before bed, but don’t eat before bed.
How’d you like that 50 shades of sneaky? That isn’t a joke – that is my honest opinion. It is OK to eat right before bed with no ill effect to your weight loss (given a few stipulation) but I do not recommend making a habit of it. And here is my rationale, starting with why I think it is OK to eat anytime:
Reasons It Is OK To Eat Late
1) Your metabolism doesn’t know what time of day it is.
It doesn’t matter if it is 5a or 10p, when food hits your body, your body goes to work. I discussed some science in a post about low calories, but basically, when you consume food, your body starts the process of processing, regardless of the time. It doesn’t store items to fat any differently before bed than it does midday.
2) It is WHAT you eat – not WHEN you eat.
Look – if you eat Big Macs right before bed, you will get fat. But you will get just as fat if you eat that for lunch. Not eating before bed doesn’t give anyone the excuse to eat like sh*t. You can’t eat a crap diet, cut off eating at 7p and expect to lose weight just because you aren’t eating after 7p. You are what you eat, so if you want to be fat and disgusting, eat fatty and disgusting foods. If you want to be clean and light, eat that way.
3) STOP WITH THE EXCUSES!!
Nutrition is nutrition. If you want results, don’t give a crap about when you eat. Focus on getting your exercise, eating healthy and managing y
our stress. Using B.S. excuses like “Oh – I can’t lose weight because I eat before bed” – No you can’t lose weight because you don’t want to sweat and you eat like crap. You can’t out-excuse your diet and physical activity. Eat clean, do your work, and you will get your results.
Why You Should NOT Eat Late
Now that you know why I think it is OK to eat before bed, here is why I don’t recommend doing it:
1) Sleep – It Does Your Body Good.
Your metabolism doesn’t care when you eat, we already established that. Once you intake the calories, it goes to work. Your body temp rises, your heart rate increases a little bit, and you start working to do what you needto do in an automated process (pretty freakin’ cool!). This is perfectly fine, if you are in the middle of the day. But if you are trying to fall asleep and your heart is pounding because it is trying to digest that food you just put into your body, you won’t get to sleep properly. Plus – depending on what you ate – you may have a mild case of heartburn and not realize it, or intake sugar or caffeine, which effect sleeps patterns. Most people don’t think of these things when they eat before bed, so they just eat whatever. It isn’t WHEN you eat – it is WHAT you eat (Hmm – that sounds familiar).
2) Do you really need those calories at 11p?
Another question I have is why do you need calories that late? Yes – if you just got off of work or do late night workouts or are at the office late you actually may need them. But for most of us, we have plenty of time throughout the day to get the calories we need, so chances are these are extra calories we don’t need. If you plan your day right, you should have dinner, followed by a light snack and
hit your calorie goal, whatever that is. I highly doubt that anyone reading this is so disciplined on their calories that they have their intake timed to the point of consuming their final calories right before bed. If you are – I’d love for you to come write for me because you are more disciplined than I am. Plus – when you get that late night, before bed craving, how many of you eat a celery stick or a carrot? Now how many of you go for a bowl of ice cream or a cookie? Interesting…
3) STOP WITH THE EXCUSES
Ok – I know this is a repeat rule but how many more excuses are we going to hear about before you get it through your head that excuses aren’t going to get you where you need to go? How many more reasons do you need to live sick and unhealthy? What else is going to hit in your life that puts a stop to your goals and your dreams? The myth of eating after 7p (or whatever time was originally said) was created out of another excuses. Get rid of all the minutiae surrounding you and get to work. Unless you are a body builder, fitness competitor, or have a legit health problem, tracking your calories to the hour doesn’t do anything for you. Eat healthy. Eat clean. Don’t eat to much. That simple.
Take Away Point: Eat healthy. Eat clean. Don’t eat to much. That simple.