A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is still putting on it’s shoes.
Like most problems in the world I blame the 90’s. There exists this myth, that I think popped up in the 90’s, that has been passed around so long that it’s commonly accepted as fact. Eating at night, or past 5 or 6 or 7 or whatever version of this myth is laser printed in your brain, will cause you to gain weight.
Unfortunately, you are not a “Mogwai” (remember Gremlins?). Eating after midnight (or 5 or 6 or 7…) will not turn you into some hideous monster. Your body doesn’t care what time it is and your metabolism doesn’t come to a screeching halt when you’re sleeping.
Stopping eating after 7pm can help with weight loss, but it’s not why you think. Stopping eating after 7pm works as a behavioral change, not because of any magic metabolic changes.
How It Can Work
For people that skip breakfast or lunch and then gorge in the evenings, setting a stop eating time forces you to better manage your food intake throughout the day. When you know you’re last meal of the day needs to be before 7pm, you’re more apt to include breakfast and lunch so as to not fight the hunger demons in the evening.
Generally the post 7pm hours are filled with more leisure activities. Watching TV, attending sporting events, reading, writing, social media, social events, etc. So we’re usually eating chips, cookies, treats, soda, beer, wine, etc. Not out of hunger, just out of habit, boredom, being social, etc. I know it’s easy to polish off a box of Cheez Its and a few Pepsi’s while watching Dateline and not even notice.
You have less “eating hours” in the day, so you’re bound to reduce calories just by limiting the hours you’re allowing yourself to eat. When you set a hard cut off, you’re going to eat less.
So you’re telling me it works?
It may work to drop a few pounds in the short term or cut out a nasty CheezIt habit, but really not really. If you want to lose fat, and maintain or gain muscle, your body needs nutrients continually flowing. Even as you sleep, where most physical changes are occurring. If you’re eating a healthy well balanced diet of real food, it doesn’t matter the time of day.
What does work?
- Eating throughout the day (that includes breakfast)
- Eating real food (Meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds)
- Eat when you’re hungry (even if it’s after midnight)
- Drinking enough water (half your bodyweight in ounces)
- Not drinking your calories (avoid Soda, Sports Drinks, Energy Drinks and of course Juice)