The Treachery of Late Night SnackingPosted: May 21, 2015 in Lifestyle by Craig Primack MD FACP
As part of your medical weight loss plan, plotting out when you will eat may be just as important as planning what you will eat. Eating at irregular times, such as late at night when your body wants to sleep, may cause you to gain more weight.
This is a problem for a lot of people. The late night snacking trend is not limited to those of us in the United States, either. Worldwide, the consumption of junk food trumps nutritious eating late at night.
Break the Junk Food Habit
Studies show that eating habits are actually pretty similar world-wide. A lot of adults wake up with good intentions every morning and have a healthy breakfast to start the day. However, as the day goes on it becomes more and more tempting to indulge in poor dietary choices. As you become tired or stressed with work it is harder to make healthy food choices, especially when healthy eating requires more effort.
One informal study collecting user input about calories consumed found that adults worldwide decrease the nutritious quality of their food by almost two percent during the course of an average day. Participants input data about their dietary choices via an iPhone app and were not obligated in any way to continue their participation, so it is likely that there were other participants who chose not to log in their after-dark calorie-busting snacks, making this discrepancy even larger. While the study’s validity can be questioned, it does indicate a trend in dietary habits that is less than healthy.
Say No to Fourth Meal
In recent years, the midnight snack has become glorified. Fast food companies have opened their drive-thru windows for 24 hours, inviting tired guests to leave the comfort of their homes and have a bit more to eat before calling it a night. But this late night calorie binge could be severely affecting your waistline.
Past studies have indicated that eating late at night is detrimental to your weight loss goals. One study at Northwestern University found that eating at irregular times directly influences weight gain. These researchers found that when people eat snacks late at night, when your body should be asleep, you are disturbing your body’s ability to efficiently regulate energy. This could cause you to feel drowsier in the morning, have difficulty falling asleep at night and make it more likely that you will eat more calories the next day in an effort to wake yourself up.
If you have trouble with late night snacking, then it may be a good idea to enforce a few time regulations on your eating habits. Have a nice dinner at least three hours before bed and then don’t eat again until the next day. Set a time that you will have dinner every night and stick to it. If you eat at 7:00 p.m., then make a rule that you don’t eat past eight. By enforcing limitations on when you will eat, you may help yourself to make better choices concerning what you are eating.