Late night eating. It’s something that we’ve all done before, more often than we care to admit. You’ve heard the rumors that late night eating is one of the worst things you can do for your body weight. It’s often thought that putting food into your body at this time is a fast-track way to gain weight rapidly.
After all, you’re about to go in to sleep for 7-9 hours, lying there motionless and burning very few calories. It would only make sense then that you’d set yourself up for fat gain, right? The answer to this might actually surprise you. Let’s go over a few key points that you should know and remember about late night eating.
Your Metabolism Does Not Stop During Sleep
The very first thing that needs to be cleared up before continuing on is the fact that your metabolic rate is not just going to stop running the minute your head hits the pillow. While it’s true that your body may not be moving like it does during the day while you go about your various activities, what you need to remember is that your cells are still very busy. In fact, some cells are even busier during the overnight period as they are rapidly working to repair any damaged cells that occurred during the previous 16 hours or so. This is hard work and will require energy. Furthermore, your heart doesn’t stop beating, your lungs don’t stop taking in oxygen, and your brain doesn’t stop working, all of which will require energy to be utilised as well.
So the notion that what you eat at night will automatically turn to body fat because you aren’t burning up any calories isn’t correct at all. This isn’t to say that it can’t happen, as we’ll discuss momentarily, it’s just that it isn’t guaranteed to happen. There is more at play when it comes to determining whether the food you eat before bed will be converted into body fat storage.
Blood Sugar Matters
The next thing that you’ll want to take into account is your blood sugar levels. One thing that you don’t want to have happen is a blood glucose crash mid-way through the night. This will cause you to awaken, often ravenous, disrupting your quality of sleep and potentially causing you to go into the kitchen looking for some food to eat.
Ideally you want to maintain a stabilised blood glucose level prior to bed and going into bed as this will also help keep insulin levels down. When insulin levels are high, you are also at a greater risk of accumulating excess body fat, so this too can help keep you leaner despite eating before bed.
The Factor Of Recovery
Another factor of consideration here should be your recovery rates. If you are someone who is active and performing intense exercise training, be it cardio training or resistance training, you will be creating tiny microtears in the muscle tissues that will then need to be repaired after you finish exercising. Sleep is one of the primary times this repair process takes place. But, if you are not providing your body with the raw materials it needs for that tissue repair to take place prior to going to bed, how do you think it’s going to complete those processes? It simply won’t – at least not to the full extend it could be. This means you don’t experience as great of a recovery level the next day, meaning you may even have to take another day off from the gym before you can go back in for your next session. Lack of recovery is a huge hindrance to progress on any gym workout program, so don’t take this lightly.
If you’re neglecting recovery – sleeping time included – you simply won’t see results as quickly as you could. Optimising your sleep time by fueling your body properly is one of the best ways to create better recovery. It’s during your sleep that your body is going to be releasing hormones such as growth hormones and testosterone, both of which are critical in muscle building and repair.
What It All Boils Down To
So all of this said, what does it all come down? Whether or not you gain fat after eating late at