late night snacking and weight gainAdvice about eating at night can be very misleading. Although one common suggestion is to not eat after 8 p.m., what you eat, and calories consumed, is more important than when you eat.

Eating and your circadian rhythm
Some animal studies research hypothesize that eating at night goes against your circadian rhythm (the 24-hour cycle that tells your body when to sleep, eat and wake). According to your circadian rhythm, nighttime is for sleeping, not eating. However, not all studies in humans support this notion. In fact, studies in humans indicate that it is not necessarily the time that you eat, but how much you eat.

Late eaters tend to eat more
Those who eat at night tend to eat more and, therefore, consume extra calories. Over time, a surplus of calories can lead to weight gain. Poor food choices are more likely late at night when fewer healthy options are available. Emotional eating or eating when tired may also lead to poor food choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods if you are truly hungry after dinner.

Meal timing and frequency
Appetite and cravings may be managed by eating more calories earlier in the day and eating small and frequent meals. These strategies may prevent overeating at night.

The Bottom Line
Physiologically, calories do not count for more at night. You will not gain weight by merely eating later if you eat within your daily calorie needs. Consider eating a higher-calorie breakfast or frequent, small meals throughout the day, to manage appetite and stave off late-night cravings

This post is a small sample of the information covered each week in the StayConnected™ Mini-CE Coaching Calls. All coaching calls are recorded and StayConnected™ members have access to the entire archive through their StayConnected™ dashboard. It’s just one of the many benefits of staying connected to HLS.