How many times have you heard this so-called myth, “If you eat late at night, specifically after 6:00 p.m., you’re going to gain a bunch of weight.”?
A Totally Dumb Concept
I’ve been hearing this forever. You can’t eat late at night, it can make you gain weight. Or you need to eat at a certain time. And don’t eat six meals a day. People who are trying to lose weight always bring this up or ask about it—don’t eat late at night because it makes you fat or you gain weight because of that. It’s almost as if you’re like a gremlin and that time of the day matters. And when you eat after midnight you’re going to turn to a reptile monster. You all know what a gremlin is, right?
To help you better understand how silly this concept really is, let me give you an example. What if you’re eating on a plane in California and are flying across the country. You lose three hours if you end up in Florida because Florida is 3 hours ahead. Boom! You can’t eat now because you just lost time, sorry you don’t eat today, because you happen to be in Florida and it’s already later in the day. That’s dumb! That’s how dumb this whole concept is.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what time of day, in a 24-hour cycle, when you eat your food as far as how it affects your body from a metabolism standpoint. That silliness is made up. However, I do tend to recommend to not eat later in the day after dinner time.
Of course, it’s different for everybody. Some people work graveyard so their dinner time might be 8 a.m., so that’s another thing to consider from a metaphor standpoint. Some people get home at 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. and you have to have some time with your kids then make dinner, especially if you love to cook. If you’re not going to eat because it’s already way past 6:00 p.m., then you will not be able to enjoy what you prepared for dinner. Some people eat lunch at 7:00 p.m. and then work all the way until 11:00 p.m. so their dinner might be at midnight. So again, you’re not a gremlin so you can eat past midnight, if that’s your situation.
Calories In Versus Calories Out
The reason I tend to recommend people to don’t eat late in their day, whenever that is in “their day” is because they’ll overeat at that time. They get bored, or they’re watching TV, they’re socializing, and food is just falling into their mouths like there’s a conveyer belt coming up. They’re not paying attention. That’s the problem. The issue for most people always comes down to the same laws of physics that I always talk about—calories in versus calories out. If you have more going in your body than you’re using in an activity every day doing stuff you’re going to gain weight. Unless that’s your goal. So, pay attention, track your food, be responsible and plan ahead of how much you eat. Then, combine all these pieces of advice with “when you eat“ and you certainly be on your way in reaching your goal.
Is there any time recommended when you should be eating? There’s a couple of great examples of when it’s important to pay attention to not only what time you eat, but also how frequently you eat. Some people eat like three meals a day, some only eat two meals, and some are not used to eat breakfast. Some people get up in the morning and do their stuff first then eat a larger meal later. Some people eat like six, seven, or eight, maybe nine meals a day. There is a good reason to have more frequent meals and/or pick a specific time.
Good reason to pick a specific time to eat
A couple of weeks ago, I went to my favorite gym, Orange Theory, to workout. I did High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and I got lightheaded. I almost fainted because I didn’t have energy. It’s because I sometimes do intermittent fasting—it’s when you fast for a certain number of hours in a day. I do the 16/8 method where I usually fast 16 hours a day and eat 8 hours a day. So, what happened was I went to the gym without any nutrition, specifically some carbohydrates, some sugars in my muscles and bloodstream to fuel me through that high-intensity workout. That’s why I bonked. My blood sugar went down and my brain stopped to work. And I started seeing stars, not the good kind of stars because it’s daytime.
Therefore, it’s a bad thing to purposely not eat prior to an athletic endeavor, be it a workout like I did or if you have to go running or whatever it is you do.
If you know you have an athletic endeavor coming up, you might want to eat some food prior to that. Maybe a couple hours prior so that it can be digested, be absorbed so that you can get through that exercise, that activity, and still feel like a normal human being.
So, that’s one good reason to specifically choose a time when to eat.
Another good reason to pick a specific time to eat
So that you don’t end up on the next Snickers commercial. You guys all see the Snickers commercial out there, right? Where they get somebody to a construction zone and he’s all grouchy and stuff because he’s hangry—hungry and angry at the same time. If you don’t eat, your blood sugar drops and your poor brain gets really irritated with you. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) tells you not to think straight because your body does not have that energy it needs. So you kind of become irritated, irritable right?
Hence, if you have a meeting coming up in four hours with your boss, and you haven’t eat before that, you get “hangry” in there. You may start doing some stupid things that might not work out so good for your job. That’s why I recommend to make sure you eat some food prior to an engagement so that you don’t get “hangry” and low blood sugar. Not eating also don’t give you the satiety, which means the feeling of fullness or at least not hungry, and eventually might put you in a bad place.
Those are two good reasons of choosing when to eat.
Now, for many people who run marathons which start by 5:00 a.m. in the morning, what time is the starting time when you can eat? A lot of people work early, go to the gym or exercise and get up like three or four o’clock in the morning. Or they go to a marathon or some events that start really early and it seems like you don’t have time for breakfast. For some people, they eat at the middle of the night, that’s their thing. But my suggestion is, just have a large dinner, a little bit more food during dinner time. That way, your body processes it, absorbs it, distributes it, so you’re ready to go in the morning again. That’s purposefully eating at a time to prepare yourself for an activity.
What are the most important things we can learn about this whole silly thing—I’m not eating after six o’clock?
- First of all, calories in calories out. Too many calories going in and not enough going out, you’re going to gain weight. More calories going out than going in then you’re going to reach your goal—lose weight. Control the total calories going in and not WHEN you eat it.
- Pay attention. Know what your lifestyle is like. Know if you should eat more frequently, if you should keep snack foods with you—some nuts or some jerky in your pocket, especially if you have a physical activity coming up.
- Eat with purpose, at a specific amount of time ahead to prepare yourself for an activity. So, it doesn’t matter if you eat after 6:00 p.m. or what time, as long as you are in control of what you eat and you don’t get “hangry.”