For years we have been teaching a calorie is a calorie no matter what time it is consumed. I mean it makes sense. It’s dark in your stomach. How does your body know what time it is? But, there is growing research now telling us that the body burns those calories differently at night than it does during the day.
Your body has a secret fat burning process at night!
The new thinking based on the research by Satchin Panda at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, is that the body burns some of the calories you eat for fuel during the day and the rest is stored in the liver in the form of glycogen. At night, your body converts the glycogen into glucose and releases it into your bloodstream to keep your blood-sugar levels steady during this fasting period called sleep.
Once the glycogen is gone, your liver starts burning fat cells for energy.
Lose weight in your sleep!
The concept that we burn fat while we sleep is not new at all. But, this new research gives some merit to the theory that a midnight snack could interfere with your body’s ability to burn fat between the time you go to bed and the time you sit down to breakfast.
So what time should you stop eating? Late night snackers tend to eat an average of 248 calories more per day than those who go to bed earlier. Most of those calories are consumed after 8pm.
Depending on what you have had for dinner that night, you may actually be hungry right before bed time. Make sure you are eating a balanced meal with lost of veggies, whole grains, healthy oils, and protein in order to feel satisfied.
Don’t go to bed hungry!
If you really are hungry and not just craving or bored, then have a piece of fruit, a 1/2 serving of yoghurt, or 1 piece of whole wheat bread to tie you over until morning.
If you are a late night snacker, you may not be getting enough sleep. This can cause weight gain. If you work the night shift, your body will adjust. However, the new research tells us that trying to “fit in” to a day schedule on your off days could be throwing your body out of whack. If you are used to having your larger meals during a swing shift, experiment with keeping the portions small when you normally would have been sleeping. Regular meals and sleep patterns seems to be the key.
Start the day of with breakfast!
Research has proven that regular breakfast eaters weigh less. When you eat within an hour of waking up, you help jump start your metabolism! Read How Eating Breakfast Helps You Lose Weight for more details about breakfast and weight loss.
What do you do if you ate late the night before? Based on Panda’s research you want to wait 12 hours between the evening meal and breakfast. If you ate a big dinner at 11pm, then eating closer to lunch may help you burn off that late meal.
Overall the “new thinking” is telling us something we already know. While I wouldn’t get too freaked out about the occasional late night meal, regular meals and regular sleep help you lose weight and maintain it permanently!
Has this helped you with this subject? Have a late night habit you want to discuss? Please leave a comment below. I love hearing from you!
Blessings to you and yours!