Prepare to have your minds blown, boys and girls.
Eating at night doesn’t make you gain weight.
Whaaaat? No way Ariana, you’re fuckin’ crazy. Your metabolism slows down at night and your body goes into “fat storage” mode.
No. Not at all. You know what makes you gain weight? Eating too much. Sitting in front of the TV for two hours eating a bag of potato chips and drinking beer makes you gain weight. Not eating past 7pm.
Who made 7pm the weight gain witching hour anyway? I often hear people talking about how they won’t eat anything past 7pm. “Last night was horrible, I didn’t get home from work until after 7 and by that point it was too late to eat” So what? You starved yourself instead? Because that’s conducive to weightloss.
Do you gain weight when you eat after 7pm regardless of whether you woke up at 6am or 3pm? What about people who do graveyard shifts and do much of their eating past 7pm? Are they destined to be overweight until they find a 9-5 job? If I hopped on a plane tomorrow and flew to Ontario, would I start gaining weight at 7pm BC time or 7pm Ontario time? If someone can answer these questions then maybe I’ll cut this theory some slack. But until then, this belief needs to disappear.
The reason people associate nighttime eating with weight gain is because our eating habits tend to go downhill at night. Although we don’t all exercise in the morning or afternoon, in general we do tend to be more active. We walk to and from the car, do some housework, get up from our desks to go to the photocopier or bathroom, wander around the building pretending to look busy, that kind of thing.
Eating patterns also tend to be more structured earlier in the day as well. After breakfast, those who work daytime jobs are often limited in feeding opportunities. Lunch is usually at a set time, and depending on the nature of work you do there may only be time for a quick snack before dinner. Food choices aren’t always of the best quality, but there’s generally less time to stuff your face with shit.
But when the work day is said and done and you’re back in the comforts of your home, that’s when things get real. You have a carb-filled dinner followed by a sugar-filled dessert, and probably a couple of glasses of wine to balance your palate. Then you plop yourself on the couch to watch your shows and since you’re feeling peckish, you bring a bag of pretzels to the party as well.
By this point you’ve probably consumed around 1500 calories. All while sittin’ on your behind and not doing much else. THAT is what makes you gain weight.
People have the tendency to really complicate weight loss. And yes, when you really get down to the nitty gritty details there’s a whole lot of “what the fuck” goin’ on. But weight loss, in its most basic form is a matter of calories in versus calories out. Simple as that.
When I wake up in the morning feeling much more bloated than I did the day before, it’s not because I ate past 7. It’s because I ate a Quest bar smothered in almond butter and dipped in peanut butter, with a bowl of yogurt and an apple topped with more peanut butter on the side. It’s because I ate like 4 days’ worth of nut butter servings in 1 sitting while staring at the television. But hey. That’s life, and if eating 8 tablespoons of peanut butter is wrong then I don’t want it to be right.
But for those of you who aren’t looking to embrace the bulking lifestyle like I currently am, I have a few suggestions to help with the nighttime munchies.
My first tip is to eat your damn breakfast. ESPECIALLY if you’re part of the “shun food past 7” cult. You want to talk about fat storage mode? Starve your body for 15 hours and then give it a muffin and coffee filled with cream and sugar like 80% of the corporate world does. The don’t eat again for a few more hours until you’re so famished you eat your entire pantry when you get home.
If you start your day with a satisfying breakfast, you’ll be less likely to gorge on shit later in the day. Science says so right here. Or at least Arianna Huffington thinks so, and that’s enough for me.
Next tip is to stop the mindless eating! When we sit in front of the computer or television and nom away we aren’t really paying attention to our body’s full signals. We don’t realize we’re satiated (which we usually already are when we pull out that bag of chips to start with) until we realize the bag of chips is almost empty and we feel disgustingly full.
If you do find it necessary to eat mindlessly (hey, no judgement here…I’m totally guilty of it myself sometimes), at least don’t eat straight out of the bag. Grab yourself a bowl and portion that shit out! That way when the bowl is empty you’re done. And if not….well at least you’re getting up and moving to get more.
And my biggest tip to prevent weight gain from night time snacking? Get some activity in throughout the day! If you’re expending more calories through exercise, your body needs to take in more calories, even if you’re looking to lose weight. Making one huge change can be pretty challenging. If you’re a habitual snacker, telling yourself you aren’t going to have any post-dinner snacks ever again is going to seem really awful.
But if you increase your activity levels throughout the day to burn a few extra calories and practice portion control when the night time munchies do hit, you’ll be less likely to derail all of your hard work.
Do you find that your eating habits tend to deteriorate as the day goes on? Do you have any tactics to help fight the nighttime munchies?