Can Eating at Night Cause Weight Gain?
“10 reasons why you should stop eating after 8pm”, “you should not eat after dinner, here’s why”, “foods to avoid before bed”, “how to quit snacking at night” ...
Social medias are filled withthese claims that eating after a certain hour of the day can cause an increase in blood sugar levels, heart diseases and obesity because at that time our body metabolism works more slowly than during the day... But is it really a thing?
In a study conducted on type 1 diabetes patients, late-night eating habits were studies as well as their impact of glycemic control (blood sugar levels). The research concluded that night eating had no effect on the protein hba1c (which is an indicator of blood glucose) and thus can’t be associated with poorer glycemic index control (Matejko, 2015).
As for heart disease and obesity, few studies examine the relationship with diet quality and late-night eating but a study on the effects of eating behaviors on heart rate variability (HRV) showed that eating behaviours such as, late-night eating, having snacks and eating fast were not found to be associated with HRV(Ozpelit, 2017). Because late night snacking is associated with eating extra calories and more palatable foods such as high glycemic index or high fat foods, it is though that eating certain food at night could compromise metabolic health. However, no study could establish a strong connection between late-night eating and its macronutrient composition and obesity (Gallant, 2014).
Bottom line is you should not feel ashamed of your late-night cravings because the guilt and restrictive tendencies are more likely to cause harm than the food itself!
Gallant, A., Lundgren, J., & Drapeau, V. (2014). Nutritional Aspects of Late Eating and Night Eating. Current Obesity Reports, 3(1), 101–107. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13679-013-0081-8
Matejko, B., Kiec-Wilk, B., Szopa, M., Trznadel Morawska, I., Malecki, M. T., & Klupa, T. (2015). Are late-night eating habits and sleep duration associated with glycemic control in adult type 1 diabetes patients treated with insulin pumps? Journal of Diabetes Investigation, 6(4), 460–464. https://doi.org/10.1111/jdi.12320 Ozpelit, M. E., & Ozpelit, E. (2017). How we eat may be as important as what we eat: Eating behaviour and heart rate variability. Acta Cardiologica, 72(3), 299–304. https://doi.org/10.1080/00015385.2017.1304749