Late Night Eating

Since returning from Thanksgiving break I've been curious whether or not my eating patterns should be changed.  I tend to eat breakfast and lunch at normal times of the day, but I always find myself eating dinner after 8 o'clock at night.  For years I've been told in health class and by family members that eating after 8 o'clock is bad for your health and can cause you to gain weight.  I never really believed in the statement because I've always been practically nocturnal in my sleep schedule, but I'm starting to think about it now.  After looking through a few online articles, a particular one caught my interest.


On the John Alvino website an article was written by Alvino about his interest in the same topic.  For years he'd listened to other people and kept himself from eating after 7 o'clock at night in fear of gaining weight.  He eventually came to notice that his hunger was more intense later in the evening, so he decided to try out eating his dinner at a later time.  After trying this for 12 weeks he saw unbelievable results.  He'd lost body fat!  He's not a doctor so he can't declare that this will actually work for everyone, but I'd like to take his word for it.  He does close with suggesting that people stop eating at least 90 minutes before bed time.


What do you guys think?  Is late night eating or snacking a good or bad idea to you?


I am also a late night eater. Just like you, I tend to eat later in the evening because I know if I don't then I will be hungry before I go to bed. I always thought it was so bad for you but glad to hear its not! In the "Fit Day" article (given below), It supports your idea. It says that it doesn't matter what time of day you eat, just the number of calories in general. They also say that it could be better to eat later just so your spreading your daily calories out over a longer period of time so they can be burned more effectively.

I feel that this idea of eating late is either outdated or not relevant to many college students. Like the idea that stress causes ulcers it has been ingrained in our minds without proper investigation. The way my grandparents eat is very different because of the kind of life they lived. When you're a laborer you go to bed early and wake up early. While many are still on this schedule others such as college students are known for their late night endeavors. Lets say we wake up an average of 3 hours later than the early risers, while our breakfast times may differ our lunch times remain the same as the early birds. If our whole schedule is pushed forward shouldn't we eat lunch later in the day as well as dinner? I could imagine that eating 3 meals in an 8 hour period could be more harmful that spreading out consumption over a longer period. It is not about what time of day it is, it is about your life style and spreading out your meals.

I would make the case that late night eating is not an issue at all. What can be problamatic is two things: eating too much for the day and eating too close to bedtime. If your late night eating is your fourth large meal of they day, it is obviously not helping your overall health. If this late meal is constantly 2 slices of pizza and soda, you still won't lose weight. The other issue is eating shortly before you sleep. Your body is not burning off the food as efficiently. For the most part, when you eat does not matter. It is about what you eat and how much!

Just like you and most people I was always told that late night eating was bad for your health and would make you gain weight. I think it depends on what you eat late at night determines if it’s bad for your health. I do not think anyone should eat a full meal and then go to sleep 90 minutes before bed. I do know that your body needs time to fully digest your food. Very interesting post!

Personally, I am on the fence with eating too late in the evening. By being an athlete, I have often found myself sluggish and heavy in my morning workouts when i have eaten a late night meal the night before. There are a lot of variables that influence this topic. One must factor in how you are eating, what you are eating, and to what extent are you eating. Eating a salad at midnight will yield an entirely different result than eating something heavy in grease.
I agree with the notion of increased hunger at night. Often times i get very hungry later into the evening. However if one chooses to eat late, it should not be something unhealthy, because then the chance of putting on weight increases. In addition, by eating heavy directly before going to sleep, one slows down the digestion process of digestion and causes food to sit in the stomach and intestines. While i am not against eating late into the evening, the content of what you eat makes a huge difference.

I agree that it depends what you eat and how much time passes until you go to sleep. I think that late night eating isn't as bad as people say. Having a healthy dinner at 8:00 instead of 6:00 won't do much harm, but it's more about what your eating. I know that most college kids will grab something cheap and quick, like McDonalds or a big Chipotle burrito at 9:00 if they didn't get to the dining hall in time or were doing work late. It's just fast, easy, and cheap. This is where they late night eating will make people gain weight. If at 9:00, students bought a salad and grilled chicken for dinner, I'm sure they would not gain weight. However, there are many studies that say late night eating is bad no matter what. Apparently, your metabolism and circadian rhythms are closely tied and the habit of eating late at night can cause weight gain. This is further explained here -

I agree with John Alvino. In my eyes, as long as people are eating healthy and not overeating, the time at which they eat won't have a significant effect.

I think this is very interesting. I think that if by eating dinner earlier, you leave yourself hungry and tempted snack or gorge your self in the morning, or potential binge eat to satisfy your hunger, you are avoiding any benefit that eating early may bring you. according to a woman's health magazine article, over eating in the morning can skew your calorie allotment for an entire day, causing an endless cycle of hunger, bingeing and potential for weight gain. Have you considered creating a schedule allowing you to eat your meals every and snacks every 2-4 hours apart? Or eating dinner at a time, relative to when you plan to go to sleep ( maybe dinner at 8 and going to be around 1) to eliminate time to be hungry and snack ?

Something else you should consider is that it's not what TIME you eat, but rather how soon you eat before bed. Your body digests much slower in your sleep, and so a lot more of the food goes into causing you to gain weight. That can also be the cause of the ulcers or the indigestion (though not as common).

Livestrong did a nice article on it, which you can find here.

Also, eating right before bed can cause your body to tire out, or even, depending on what you eat, prevent you from sleeping.

As long as you're staying active well into the night, though, there should be no problem with eating after 8.

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