A hectic day makes healthy eating difficult. As a result, you may sit down to a large meal late at night where you eat the majority of your daily calories. Will all these late-night calories hinder your weight loss effort?
Many researchers believe that a calorie is a calorie, no matter when you eat it. Although, some research indicates that eating patterns do play a role in obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight.
Things to consider when eating late in the day:
- If you stay within your calorie requirement it’s not likely to matter when you eat, but beware. Studies show that those who eat late tend to eat more, and they eat higher calorie foods.
- Large meals before bedtime have shown to elevate triglyceride levels, a risk factor for heart disease.
- Eating and then going to sleep decreases the opportunity for these calories to be used for activity such as walking throughout your day.
- One study which observed the eating patterns of obese women did find that energy expenditure was delayed when a large meal was eaten later in the day.
- Research shows that regular meal patterns boost metabolism more than irregular meal patterns.
What you can do:
- Make eating a priority. Your daily to-do list is important, but so is your health. Through dieting and ignoring internal signals, we have reached a point where we tell ourselves it’s okay to skip meals. It’s not, and it can hinder your weight loss efforts. Carve time out of your day to eat regularly.
- Pack snacks. Even if you can’t sit down to eat a meal during the day, snack at regular intervals to create the regular eating patterns that support a healthy metabolism. Fruit, vegetables, cheese sticks, shakes, fruit smoothies, nuts, and low-sugar dry cereals and bars are all things you can pack with you during a busy day.
- Listen to your hunger cues. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. See Recognizing Hunger Signals.
- Don’t stress. When you do sit down to eat a large meal in the evening, keep your calorie requirement in mind. If you avoid eating too many calories, the effect on your weight loss will be small.