Does eating before bed make you gain weight? Can eating before bed ruin your diet?
There are two answers, yes and no (nothing is simple!).
There are long term myths and beliefs that because you are not active during sleep, all the calories consumed prior bedtime will all be stored as fat. This is not entirely correct, but it does leave a lot of people asking “Does eating before bed make you gain weight?” Late night binge eating and calorie snacking before bed after dinner will most likely make you gain weight – because of the extra calories consumed over the last 24 hours.
- It is all about calories in and calories out (for most people). Ensure you eat the recommended calories for your age, height and weight (https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/eat-health-calculators). Eating above the calorie recommendation and not creating a deficit through body movement, will increase weight.
- If you are a shift worker, or work unusual hours (like a personal trainer) if your last meal is 830pm, eat it! The best type of food to eat for dinner at this time of night are those low in starch and low in sugar. Reducing these foods promotes higher levels of anti-ageing, immunity boosting, fat burning and muscle building hormones!
So why do I gain weight then?
The main culprit for any type of weight gain, as a general rule of thumb, is eating more than what your body needs. If you are after steady weight loss, 0.5kg is a weekly energy/calorie expenditure of 3500 calories; an average of a daily 500 calorie deficit.
Exercise should become second nature and a necessity during everyday life for personal well being. More activity in the day will help create a deficit, such as walking for an extra 5-10 minutes, washing the car by hand, mowing the lawns, hanging out the laundry. Every little bit helps if you have no time to allocate to exercise or do not like going to the gym/have access to it.
Calories start to quickly add up (and sneakily if you are not armed with proper information) include consuming:
- Sport drinks when you have not worked out intensely enough to need it (think marathon runners and endurance sports) 155 calories/500ml!
- Fizzy drinks 142 calories/330ml!
- Teaspoon of sugar in each coffee/tea 20 calories/teaspoon!
- Small Thick Shake from McDonalds 461 calories!
- 50 grams of raw almonds 299 calories!
Using the above information, it quickly adds up – 1400 calories in a day is somewhat less exciting once all of the above-mentioned foods are included in the day!
So, Does eating before bed make you gain weight?
In summary, the body does not know what time you ate, there are better times to eat, but at the end of the day, total calories consumed over a 24 hour period is just that. Just lay off starchy and sugars before bedtime (you will sleep better for it!).
The Health Impact of Nighttime Eating: Old and New Perspectives, Amber W. Kinsey, Michael J. Ormsbee