Guest Blog: Is Eating Late At Night Really A Diet Cardinal Sin? by Dan Smullen

It’s that time again where I am so pleased to welcome another guest blogger to take the spotlight. We have such a wide range of topics with these guest posts but I think this one might be of a particular interest to you fellow late night bloggers out there – and of course any other night owl like myself. Dan Smullen has a Bsc. in sport science & has over 9 years experience personal training. Apart from training and blogging, he is also a tech fanatic & loves his coffee. You can find him blogging all about health and fitness tips over at or on twitter here.


Is Eating Late At Night Really A Diet Cardinal Sin?

If you have ever tried to lose weight and have looked for easy-to-follow advice, the one that seems the easiest to stick to is the ‘not eating late at night’ rule. We are told that eating after 8 or 9 pm is a bad idea, as the body doesn’t burn the calories while your body is sleeping. We have been told that the calories are immediately stored as fat, in all those places where you don’t want it. However, it seems that it is not the time you eat that is important, but rather what you eat that counts.


The TV is your worst enemy when it comes to late night eating!

Most late-night eating takes place in front of the television – a recipe for disaster if you are viewing a cookery programme. Studies have shown that eating while watching food-related content can significantly increase your calorie intake. While you watch the TV, you are not concentrating on how much you are eating or its health credentials. It is also common to snack later at night, and those snacks are not always healthy. When you are tired it is easier to grab a biscuit out of the cupboard than to prepare a healthy dish.

Don’t avoid carbs at night because of bro science.

Eating carbohydrates after exercise is vital for muscle repair and strengthening. So even if you opt for evening workouts, you should not skimp on stocking up on carbohydrates afterwards, regardless of what time it is. The same goes for protein – it has been found that eating proteins before going to bed can actually increase the amount of muscle built while you sleep.


The way food affects mood is also key to what you should be eating before bed. Serotonin is the ‘feel-good’ hormone, which is known to elevate mood and a sense of calm. When released late at night, serotonin enables restful sleep. Serotonin levels increase after eating carbohydrates, so they would be a good choice to eat if you are having a late meal. It also seems that eating a low-GI dinner (think wholefoods such as vegetables, lentils and grains) can set you up for breakfast, affecting what and how much you eat the next morning.

What the experts have to say

Everybody has a different metabolism and utilises calories and nutrients at different rates. As long as you don’t exceed your body’s calorific needs during the day, it doesn’t actually matter what time you eat your last meal of the day. “Making sure you eat wholesome, healthy food and burn off excess calories with regular workouts during the day is the key to maintaining your weight – not watching what time you eat your dinner.” Philip Mac Mahon, Sports Nutritionist.

“If you are trying to lose weight, it is important you ensure that the calories going in do not exceed those being expended through exercise. This can be achieved by cutting out unhealthy snacks and watching the quality of your meals. Eating crisps and chocolate bars is a cardinal sin for your diet at any time of the day, but eating a healthy, balanced meal before bed is not going to cause massive weight gain” Lucy Kendrick, Sports Performance Coach.


Huge thanks to Dan for writing this piece especially for my blog – be sure to leave him some lovely comments and check out his Twitter and blog mentioned in the opening paragraph.

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36 Comment

  1. Reply
    18th November 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Really helpful post. Thank you #fridaylinky

    1. Reply
      19th November 2016 at 9:06 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it Michelle. Thanks for reading.

  2. Reply
    Play Travel Life
    18th November 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Can always use some advise. Currently training for NYC (half) marathon and have many more cravings. #pocolo

    1. Reply
      19th November 2016 at 9:01 pm

      Wow!! I won’t tell my hubby he’ll be super jealous! Good luck with your training 🙂

  3. Reply
    19th November 2016 at 1:09 pm

    This is interesting, I think there’s so much misinformation around about diet and nutrition so it’s good to have information from someone with some knowledge

    1. Reply
      19th November 2016 at 1:10 pm

      #fortheloveofblog oops!

    2. Reply
      19th November 2016 at 8:48 pm

      I completely agree. So grateful to Dan for sharing this with us.

    3. Reply
      Dan Smullen
      23rd November 2016 at 9:23 am

      Thanks Beth, Glad you enjoyed the article.

  4. Reply
    20th November 2016 at 9:39 am

    A very helpful interesting post Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

    1. Reply
      20th November 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Thanks, will do. Glad you enjoyed.

  5. Reply
    20th November 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Interesting post. I try not to eat after 8pm. Thanks for linking up to That Friday Linky

    1. Reply
      21st November 2016 at 1:07 am

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. Reply
    Stephanie Robinson
    20th November 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Interesting and useful myth buster – because ultimately if you eat more than you need it’s not going to work is it? Makes sense and I’m glad to hear not eating late is such a sin, because sometimes you just can’t help it can’ you? Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

    1. Reply
      21st November 2016 at 1:08 am

      You certainly can’t! I’m definitely guilty as charged!! 🙂

    2. Reply
      Dan Smullen
      23rd November 2016 at 9:32 am

      You’re totally right. In fact what’s actually worse than eating late at night is lack of sleep! If your over tired it will actually cause you to crave sugary type of foods such as chocolate as your blood sugar is low. The best scenario here is to either get more sleep, but if you can’t i.e. having a more protein based meal such as cottage cheese with cucumbers & tomatoes and a small grain of wholegrain toast can be delicious and guilt free!

  7. Reply
    21st November 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Some great tips here. I do think the best thing for me is eat less, move more! #MarvMondays

    1. Reply
      21st November 2016 at 6:53 pm

      It really is! Not always that easy though is it?! 😄😄

  8. Reply
    Patty Gordon
    21st November 2016 at 6:32 pm

    I’m such a bad night eater! I swear I can go all day long and be fine then “hybernation mode” kicks in and I want to eat everything in the house!

    It’s funny how simple weightloss really is in most cases and yet we can’t seem to get the idea that the more calories you burn than you eat will make you lose weight. Thanks for posting this to the Link Party. #MarvMondays

    1. Reply
      21st November 2016 at 6:55 pm

      I know what you mean! I’m the same. The house is quiet. Everyone is asleep and then boom, I’m starving!! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading.

  9. Reply
    The Pramshed
    22nd November 2016 at 8:25 am

    This is a really helpful post, and I am so guilty of eating late at night, or snacking, especially on Biscuits. I really need to stop that. It’s interesting about the foods to increase serotonin levels, as I had never really thought of that. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

    1. Reply
      22nd November 2016 at 9:26 pm

      I’m so pleased you found it helpful. I too am guilty – and just recently I haven’t even been eating dinner until 9pm at night – I blame the hubby going to the gym!!

  10. Reply
    22nd November 2016 at 5:04 pm

    that was really helpful post especially that I’m doing some workouts and trying to be on diet:)

    1. Reply
      22nd November 2016 at 9:21 pm

      So pleased you found it useful. This is why I love hosting guest blogs! 🙂

      1. Reply
        Dan Smullen
        23rd November 2016 at 9:38 am

        Jaki, It has been more than a pleasure. Thank you once again. Dan.

  11. Reply
    22nd November 2016 at 9:36 pm

    Good to know that late night eating isn’t bad. Just need to swap the chocolate for fruit now. #marvmondays

    1. Reply
      24th November 2016 at 9:45 pm

      Yes! I could do with to join you on that one!! 😬

  12. Reply
    Something About Baby
    24th November 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Definitely agree with the tv watching/binge eating statement – it’s when I’m at my worse! I always used to struggle with what to eat after bootcamp, as we wouldn’t get home til 9pm and we wouldn’t have eaten beforehand so it was a struggle to know what was good eat – or if we should be eating at all! Some great tips here #MarvMondays

    1. Reply
      24th November 2016 at 10:14 pm

      My husband has the same problem. He goes to the gym quite late and ends up coming home hungry! I think a treat in front of the TV is a guilty pleasure for most of us.

  13. Reply
    24th November 2016 at 10:27 pm

    Great post, thanks for sharing. My friend stops eating at 4pm and I have no idea how she does it! I’m terrible for snacking it’s my biggest downfall especially the evening with no kids to steal my food xx

    1. Reply
      27th November 2016 at 10:01 pm

      Oh god, no way could I do that!! I’m glad you enjoyed it and hopefully you feel a little less guilty now! 😉 xx

  14. Reply
    Random Musings
    25th November 2016 at 1:12 pm

    I’ve always said this – it’s good to know the experts are finally agreeing!
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂

    1. Reply
      27th November 2016 at 9:58 pm

      Fabulous! x

  15. Reply
    25th November 2016 at 9:19 pm

    This is really great info 🙂 We’re always eating junk at night and it’s hard to know whether to believe all these things you’re told #MarvMondays

    1. Reply
      27th November 2016 at 9:56 pm

      So pleased you found it useful Amie. Thanks for reading.

  16. Reply
    Annette, 3 Little Buttons
    27th November 2016 at 8:25 pm

    An interesting post. I have already heard that eating late is fine (as long as you are not over eating for the day), so this didn’t come as too much of a surprise. Thank you for sharing with the #dreamteam.

    1. Reply
      27th November 2016 at 9:43 pm

      My pleasure. So pleased you found it interesting.

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