You’ve probably heard you shouldn’t eat just before bed, especially if it’s a big meal. That’s true for several reasons, but there’s one way it can be helpful. Humans still have many instincts from their cave-dwelling days. One of them is to stay awake to hunt for food if they’re hungry. Sometimes, an empty stomach won’t allow sleep and lack of sleep can make you hungrier. If you’re one of those people who can’t sleep without a snack, plan ahead. Eat less at the other two meals and more at your last meal of the day or be prepared with sleep-inducing snacks.
A calorie is a calorie no matter when you eat it.
You hear a lot about weight gain from eating late at night and sometimes the reason given is that the calories go to fat when you sleep. That’s just not true. No matter when you eat, it’s still a calorie whether you burn it off then or later. What does occur is you’re extending the hours when you eat, so you tend to eat more. You also don’t make the smartest choices late at night and eat higher-calorie snacks that don’t require preparation, like potato chips and candy.
Eating late at night can be bad for your health.
Aside from eating more calories and gaining weight, eating late can cause health issues. Eating and then lying down can interfere with digestion. Gravity plays a role in digestion, helping the food move through your digestive system. When you lay down it also slows blood flow that is necessary for digestion. It doesn’t help move the food through the body either. That can cause the food and acid mixture to come back into the esophagus causing acid reflux, heartburn, a sore throat, dental issues, and sinusitis.
You’ll interrupt your body’s sleep/wake cycle.
The sleep/wake is the circadian rhythm. It’s the regulator for the body that makes it active during the day and tired at night. It regulates everything, including insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone that causes the cells to open and uptake glucose. During the day, the cells are more responsive to insulin. When you eat late at night, your body isn’t active enough to use the energy. Eventually, that can cause insulin resistance that puts on pounds and leads to diabetes.
- Some sleep-inducing snacks to have on hand include peanut butter on whole-grain bread, cottage cheese with banana slices, or an apple and cheese slice. Deviled eggs or veggies and Greek yogurt dip are also good options.
- Eating late at night can cause an upset stomach. Nighttime is when the body does tissue repair. If your stomach is busy digesting food, it doesn’t repair itself.
- Eating late at night can interrupt NREM sleep, the first stage of sleep. That’s especially true if you’re consuming food high in saturated fat.
- Studies have found that people who eat at night eat more calories throughout the day. One study found that people who ate something between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. tended to eat 500 calories more each day than those that didn’t eat at night.
For more information, contact us today at Wellness On A Dime Coaching