If you were to ask a sample group of people in your area what happens to the body when eating late at night, chances are the general consensus would point to the same negative answer. For as long as most would dare to remember, eating at night has been considered public enemy number one, two and three to those looking to lose weight and thus something to avoid at all costs. The theory is that everything a person eats or drinks at night will simply sit around in their gut for hours on end, leading to more of the calories being stored by the body than they would be during the day.
As such, millions would rather go to bed hungry than run the risk of gaining weight overnight – or so their logic dictates.
However, despite on-going calls for re-education in the area the health and fitness community is still trying to get the message across that it really isn’t all as black and white as the general public seems to think. In fact, depending on the circumstances it can be of genuine benefit to both health and weight loss regimes to eat as late at night as necessary.
A Matter of Metabolism
Not to get too bogged down in the science of the whole thing, it should be pretty obvious to most what happens to the body when it goes a long period of time without eating. When there’s nothing coming in for the body to take fuel from, the metabolism slows down and all existing reserves are held onto in something of a natural survival mode. This is where it becomes important to logically think about sleep as given the fact that people are in general recommended to sleep for eight hours, this is a pretty long gap between food intake.
What’s more, factor in a dinner around 6pm and a breakfast at 8am and you’re looking at a 14-hour gap between meals – a time period most would be unable to stand during their waking lives.
So just as is the case during the daytime, if you don’t give your body any food for 14 hours straight it is inevitable that its metabolism and general digestive processes will slow to a crawl and as many fat reserves as possible will be held onto. As such, go to bed already hungry and you can guarantee that for the next 8 hours you will be doing nothing at all to help your weight loss regime.
The simple though surprising truth about eating at night is that it is a case not of whether you eat at all or when, but rather what you eat. Guzzle down a ton of fat, sugar and salt and of course you’ll pay the price, but eat something light and simple just to keep things moving as they should and not only will you benefit in terms of weight loss, but you’ll also find yourself sleeping better as a bonus!
By Lisa Morton
Lisa Morton tried out almost every personal trainer London had to offer before eventually settling on a home training program that would change her life forever. She now regularly blogs on her experiences.