“I need to lose some weight.” you say to a friend and their response is “quit eating past 6, it turns straight to fat.” Some unnecessary myths are being thrown around about weight loss like it takes a special formula to actually lose weight and keep it off.
Eating at night seems to be a popular topic for losing weight. Although simply eating past 6 won’t make you gain weight or keep you from losing weight, there is some truth that is derived from the myth. The nugget of info that we can pull from this myth is that eating at night can cause weight gain because of snacking on calorie dense foods and complacent eating. This means eating chips, candy, ice cream at night while watching TV or grabbing a bag of chips and eating them all during a movie on accident. Lets face it, how many people have done this?
No carbs after 6pm
In the very minimal terms, calories in vs calories out will determine if you gain weight or lose it. If you eat more calories than you burn you will gain weight. If you eat less than you burn you will lose weight. Simply not eating carbs past 6 won’t make you lose weight, although foods containing a lot of carbs are somewhat calorie dense. This means that eating a small bag of chips is going to be worse for you than eating a couple of apples. Next time you worry if you’re eating carbs past 6, know how much you’ve had all day and realize that not everyone can eat before 6pm.
No eating at all after 6pm
Not eating at all after 6pm is a popular saying as well. I’m not sure why it’s 6pm and not 7:45pm or 8:24pm. This stems from complacent eating after dinner, but if you work second or third shift I guess you shouldn’t eat at all. Just kidding folks.
Why these may have been started
Like I said earlier, these myths may have started with good intentions, but over the years it seems like people have modified the true meaning of what it means. The two reasons I feel why eating at night could be bad are:
Complacent Eating: For a lack of a better word I used complacent. How many times have you been sitting at the computer, playing on your tablet, watching TV or a movie and eaten all kinds of snacks without even realizing you are eating them? I call this complacent eating.
Craving Calorie Dense Foods: I don’t want to call calorie dense foods “junk” foods, but that’s what most people call them. Junk foods give you enjoyment and can bring back good memories, as well as taste amazing. Limiting calorie dense foods will allow you to eat more nutrient dense foods to stay fuller so limit the snacks and goodies you eat.
Habit: We are creatures of habit and I’m guilty just like everyone else. You have a long day at work, get changed into comfortable clothes, grab some snacks out of the kitchen and sit down and watch TV. Snacks are awesome as long as you aren’t consuming 1200 calories of chips and candy a day without even realizing you’re doing it. How many times have you passed through the kitchen and grabbed a soda or something out of it and sat down and don’t even remember how you got it?
Eating at night is okay
Eating at night isn’t bad, it just can come with some bad habits if you aren’t careful. Two reasons why I feel eating at night is okay are:
Your Schedule: If you work second or third shift, how the hell are you supposed to eat food if you aren’t supposed to eat past 6pm? Food timing is not important, if you’re eating your breakfast at 8pm, you aren’t going to just convert everything you eat to fat, that’s impossible and not logical.
You Intermittent Fast: I won’t get into intermittent fasting in this article, but if you intermittent fast then you know about your feeding window and your fasting window. If you don’t know about intermittent fasting, my article is coming soon. I prefer to eat my meals from noon or 1pm until 7pm or 8pm.
You can pretty much eat until you go to bed at night as long as you hit your calorie intake goal. I wouldn’t recommend eating and then falling asleep simply because of digestion and possible heart burn issues, but it will not hurt as long as you are eating only as many calories as you need.
Eating at night really isn’t bad unless you cannot control your habits and food intake. If you have problems with binging at night on junk foods or you HAVE to snack on foods at night while you watch TV or go to bed, be aware how much you are eating, and eat that much less during the day. There is no issues to eating a few hundred calories during the day and then eating 2000 calories at night if your calorie intake goal is 2300 calories.
So keep eating whenever you can but be aware how much you are eating and you are going to be okay.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to send me a message on Facebook or leave a comment below!