Weight Loss Info: Eating After 7pm

by Head Health Nutter on January 3, 2012

Following hot on the heels of New Year’s Day, here’s a guest post for all of you who intend to lose weight this year for good. Check out what Betsy, a registered and licensed dietitian, has to say about eating close to bedtime.   

If you are trying to lose weight, not eating after 7 pm is good idea, though for reasons you might not think. Although, there is no difference between the calories consumed in the morning versus calories consumed in the evening, it is generally recommended that you refrain from eating late at night.

Several theories support this suggestion:

Excess calories

Most people consume enough calories by 7 pm. If they are consistent with their meal times, they will have already eaten 3 meals plus one or two snacks, providing enough calories to meet their needs.

People generally pick snacks and other comfort foods when eating after 7 pm. You are relaxing or watching TV and you reach for a bag of chips or a bowl of ice cream. It’s very seldom that you get baby carrots or celery sticks as a late night snack.

It is also easy to consume a large portion during this time as you are not eating because you are physically hungry; you are eating to be distracted. All these extra calories will definitely be stored as fat. If you can watch what you are eating and well within your calorie requirement, eating after 7 pm may not cause much damage for you.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

This condition is common for people who have a hiatal hernia. 70 percent of hiatal hernias occur in people who are obese. If you have GERD and you eat and go to bed shortly afterwards, the food can be pushed into the chest cavity and cause reflux causing sleep disorders. People fall back on food to stay awake, thus adding more calories. For people suffering from GERD, it is advisable to wait at least 2 hours after eating to lie down. This will help the food digest and move away from the stomach, thus reducing the occurrences of reflux.

Insulin secretion

Our bodies secrete insulin for absorption of glucose in to the cells. Whether you eat carbohydrates, protein or fat – the blood sugar is raised in the body, although, the rate at which it is increased is different for each category. Therefore, insulin is secreted when you eat food, regardless of the type of food you choose.

Insulin inhibits the activity of the growth hormone which is needed for tissue repair. While growth hormone promotes weight loss, insulin promotes storing of energy in the form of adipose tissue. Continuous secretion of insulin adds to fat storage and prevents the full potential of the growth hormone. It also leads to insulin resistance of cells, which in turn leads to diabetes.

How to avoid eating at night

If you are a night owl, it might become difficult to stay away from foods at night. Follow these simple rules to avoid eating too much at night:

  • Brush your teeth after dinner. This may discourage you from eating again before bedtime.
  • Drink lots of water after dinner, so you don’t get cravings for food as much.
  • Surround yourself with healthy foods. If you have ice cream in the freezer, you will eat it while watching TV. If there isn’t any in the freezer, you might not drive out to get it.
  • If you crave sweets and feel like you cannot go without them – stock up on sugar free popsicles and have one of those instead of ice cream.
  • If you crave salt, have a serving of baked pretzels rather than regular chips.

You can start out your day with good intentions and follow the correct guidelines for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can also plan your meals; making it a habit to plan your snacks as well. If you wish to eat later, take another look at your foods and distribute your calories so you’ll have some calories allotted for late night snacking!

About the Author

Betsy is a registered and licensed dietitian who provides weight loss counseling and is part of MyDietPlanr.com where you can get your own diet plan.

I brush my teeth after dinner and find this tip helps immensely with the no eating before bed rule. Do you have any tips to help us avoid late night eating? 

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