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 Bloke.ie 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.