Many people believe that one of the reasons why you gain weight is because you often eat at night, so eating at night is fat, or is another cause for you to gain weight, let’s find out the real reason.
Eat according to your circadian rhythm
The claim that nocturnal eating causes weight gain stems from animal studies, which show that the body tends to use up calories differently during different times of the day.
Some studies theorize that eating at night goes against your circadian rhythm (a 24-hour cycle that tells you when to wake up or sleep). According to circadian rhythms, night is a time to rest, not to eat.
And animal studies support this theory. Rats that ate against their circadian time tended to gain significantly more weight than mice that ate at circadian rhythms even when they ate the same amount of food.
However, not all studies support this.
In fact, research in humans shows that when you eat isn’t as important as how much you eat. A study of 1600 children found no link between eating dinner after 8 hours and weight gain. In this study, it seems that people who eat late at night also do not consume more calories.
However, in another study that followed 52 adults, they found that eating dinner after 8 hours consumed more calories than those who ate before 8 hours. Late-night eaters consume extra calories resulting in weight gain over time.
In general, when you consume calories equal to your total daily caloric intake (TDEE), weight gain is unlikely to occur when you eat at night.
You tend to eat more late at night
A more plausible explanation for late-night eating is that you tend to eat more late at night.
Regardless of the time of day, if you consume more calories than your body needs, you will gain weight.
A study of 59 people to look at between meal times and total calorie intake found that those who ate closer to bedtime ate more calories than those who ate their last meal earlier.
Another study found that people who ate between 11am and 5am consumed about 500 more calories per day than those who restricted their nightly eating, meaning that these people also gained 4.5kg per month on average.
So it can be clearly seen that eating at night is not the cause of weight gain, you only gain weight when eating at night is more than necessary.
See also: The difference between weight loss and fat loss not everyone knows
Eating at night can influence food choices
People with the habit of eating at night not only tend to eat more, but also have poorer food choices.
Night eaters tend to choose unhealthy and high-calorie foods, low-nutrient foods like chips, ice cream, and soda.
There are many possible reasons for this, one of which is that late-night eaters have difficulty accessing healthy foods.
For example, night shift workers, research shows that night shift workers tend to choose fast foods to facilitate work or due to the lack of healthy food sources at work at night. .
Emotional eating is also a factor that keeps you from making the right food choices at night. It is important to distinguish between true hunger or hunger caused by stress, anxiety, boredom, etc.
Besides, fatigue also increases appetite and makes you only want to eat more calorie-rich foods. This may be due to hormonal changes that affect appetite during sleep deprivation.
Again, when it comes to weight gain, what you eat is more important than when you eat it. You will not gain weight when you eat at night if you eat enough food in your day.
If you’re really hungry after dinner, consider eating nutrient-dense foods, which are often low in calories and high in nutritional value.
Some of the foods you can choose from are:
- Eggplant and celery mixed with hummus
- Apple slices with peanut butter
- Fresh or frozen fruit
How to eat at night without getting fat
While total calories are a key factor in your weight, research shows that there are ways to regulate your appetite through just the timing and frequency of your eating.
Research shows that eating a high-calorie breakfast keeps you fuller longer and prevents you from overeating at night.
In the study, people who ate about 600 calories for breakfast had significantly fewer cravings and ate less than those who ate only 300 calories for breakfast, especially with reduced cravings for sweets.
Remember that breakfast may not be necessary if you eat late at night, at least not at the usual traditional time. Watch for signs of hunger and you may find your first meal starts later than others.
You may also consider eating smaller meals more often, which some studies show can help you control cravings and reduce hunger throughout the day.
Thus, simply changing the time and frequency of eating can help you reduce your overall calorie intake and easily control hunger.
In the end, is it fat to eat at night?
Eating at night won’t make you fat if you only eat enough calories for a day, but because eating at night makes you eat more and choose less healthy foods, this is what causes you to gain weight.
If you are often hungry after dinner, choose foods that are low in calories, rich in nutrients, and as minimally processed as possible.
You might consider eating a higher calorie breakfast or eating smaller meals to help control hunger and prevent weight gain.
There’s nothing wrong with eating late at night if it’s healthy and limited in calories, so don’t blame it.