Is eating before going to bed really unhealthy? Will you immediately gain weight by just one snack just because you ate at the wrong time?Calories don't tell time
You were on the right track in losing weight, you ate a healthy breakfast, you had a salad for lunch and even cooked a balanced dinner. You did your exercises at the gym or home. However, your stomach is not cooperating with you and starts making noises. You think it’s too late to eat a snack now since it’s 9 PM.
You don’t want to lose all the efforts you made that day and gained weight by eating before going to bed. Is eating before going to bed that unhealthy, though? Will you immediately gain weight by just one snack just because you ate at the wrong time?
Calories don't tell time
The total calorie intake to maintain your weight for most active men is between the 2000 to 3000 calories a day. For active women is between the 2000 to 2400 calories a day. To lose weight, you need to take slightly less than that. Since you have to burn more calories than you consume actually to lose weight.
Eating before going to bed will make you gain weight only if this causes you to exceed your calorie limit of the day. If you still have calories left to be burned, a snack before you go to sleep won’t harm your journey to lose weight. Calories don’t tell time. You won’t gain fatter if you eat at 9 PM versus 6 PM. Your body still needs to burn the same amount of calories.
Bodybuilders or people who want to gain muscles, however, needs to eat slightly more than the average calorie intake. That process is called bulking. Eating before going to bed can help them reach the required amount of calories. Those calories are needed to keep your body in muscle-building mode. A study in 2012 by Maastricht University Medical Centre in The Netherlands shows that taking a protein shake before we go to sleep can help with muscle recovery.
Read this article if you want to know more about if skipping breakfast is bad for you.
Eating before going to bed to lose weight
One of the reasons why people assume that eating before going to bed makes you fat is they think your metabolism stops when you sleep. The fact is that your body still needs energy when it’s asleep to keep burning the calories and helps muscles to recover. Your metabolism won’t stop, but it slows down during sleep.
A little snack before going to bed can help with you losing weight. Losing weight is all about eating the right foods and keeping your blood sugar stabilized. Otherwise, the hormone glucagon can’t start burning fat. Your blood sugar level can be low if you had an active day or ate dinner too early. Eating a snack before going to bed prevents your blood sugar levels to crash after you fall asleep. This can keep you up all night and have difficulties waking up and feeling energized the next morning.
If you ate late last night, you might still feel full when you wake up next morning. Don’t let this lead you to skip breakfast, since it’s the most important meal of the day as they say. It gives you energy and reduces your hunger throughout the day. Skipping breakfast can lead to overeating calories during lunchtime.
So as I mentioned before eating the right food is also essential to your journey of weight loss, especially before we go to sleep. Therefore, it doesn’t mean you can go crazy and eat whatever you feel like. Foods to avoid before going to bed are those that contain high sugar level and are high-carbohydrates like chocolate, ice cream or cookies. Try a little protein and fat instead such as a piece of turkey, low-fat yogurt or an avocado. Fruits such as bananas and cherries are also good for sleep.
You should eat less than 200 calories before going to bed. Spare some calories beforehand if you always get hungry few hours after dinner. This way you keep your stomach satisfied during your sleep without exceeding your calorie limit.
Stomach ache, heart burn and asthma
Eating larger meals before going to bed can make your body overtime to digest all the food. Therefore, drinking or eating before going to bed is one of the causes of insomnia. Also, fatty, greasy, high acidic and spicy foods fall under the category: foods not to eat before bed. These are the foods to avoid before bed to prevent stomach ache and heartburn.
Heartburn is when the acid in the stomach rises back up to the esophagus, also known as the ‘’food pipe’’. This causes a burning or tight sensation in your chest. Lying down can trigger or worsen these symptoms. Your body is just not designed to lie directly down in bed after a large meal. What helps with digestion is to sit upright. The gravity itself keeps the food down in your stomach. That’s why eating heavier meals should be done at least three hours before sleep. Since it takes the stomach that much time to empty itself.
Eating before going to bed can also have an impact on people who suffers from asthma. A study in 2004 interviewed 261 people with asthma and 218 without. As a result, the participants with asthma who ate before bed has significantly more often symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux during day and nighttime.