Have you ever been told to avoid eating late at night because it leads to weight gain? While it may be easy to think our bodies have an internal clock set to store anything eaten past a certain hour as fat, this is just a crazy diet myth.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Weight Control Information Network, “it does not matter what time of day you eat. It is what and how much you eat.” This pattern and your activity level throughout the day determines whether weight will increase, decrease, or stay constant.
Although your metabolism slows down at night to conserve energy as part of a natural process, a calorie is still a calorie--regardless of when you eat it. Your body will store extra calories as fat if you consume more calories than you need.
A number of studies support that nighttime eating does not always result in weight gain. The British Medical Journal recently reviewed the results of various studies on night-time eating and weight gain with the conclusion that there is no link between night-eating and weight gain. Other health professions and organizations such as the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) agree. All state that it's the amount of calories you take in throughout the day, not the time of day you consume them, that effects weight control.
You may be asking yourself: “if the time of day doesn’t matter, how and why do I gain weight when I eat late at night?” This could be due to a number of reasons:
The bottom line is that your body does not process food any differently at night than it does during the day. Instead, whether or not you gain, lose, or maintain weight is all a matter of calories in versus calories out. What's your favorite late night snack? Let us know on Twitter @BeBalancedRD.
Welcome to our blog! I wanted to use this initial post to introduce our expert blog, tell you a little bit about myself, and conquer one of the most outlandish myths out there.
I’ve been a Registered Dietitian (RD) for over 5 years and get questions every day about food, nutrition, and exercise. Navigating the big food and nutrition world can get pretty confusin g...even for us dietitians. We’re excited to make the food and nutrition world a little less confusing and share our journey of educating and learning! We’ll be blogging to clear up misconceptions, educate those interested, and get more high-quality nutrition and exercise information out on the web.
"There are no “bad foods.” Instead, as long as the body gets a consistent, healthy message, all foods can be made to fit."
As an RD, I’m often asked, “Well, what do you eat?” “Do you ever just want a piece of cake?” “Do you only eat healthy food?” Much of the public has a general belief that dietitians don’t eat cake, or sweets, or dreaded white carbs. Or even ice cream! (Now that really would be a terrible thing.) However, this is entirely a untrue. In fact, some of us are complete foodies, especially me.
Food should be fun, social, tasty...and most of the time, healthy. Priority and portion control can help us include our favorite foods in moderation so that no food is a no-no and we can enjoy life while living healthfully. It's not about cheating, but about fuel and balance.
As long as the body gets a consistent, healthy message, all foods can be made to fit. In fact, this practice may even create a healthier diet by hindering any over-the-top cravings. Check out fellow dietitian, Kate Cavuto's, article on incorporating moderation at the HuffPost: Healthy Living Blog.
Balanced Nutrition for Health & Performance.
I'm Lexi, a Certified Sports Dietitian and Yoga Instructor. I work with individuals, teams, and groups to find fuel and balance within their diets for health and performance.