Is eating food late at night smart?

Ever heard of the freshman 15? The sophomore 20? The junior 30? The senior 55?  Well if you are anything like me, I am sure you have, and I am sure you have taken steps to mitigate the damaging effects college can take on your body.  With countless nights of little sleep, excessive partying, alcohol and pokey sticks we are all sure to gain a little weight in college.  It is a sign we are growing up, growing older and growing in to our adult bodies.  Staying up later at night means that we are awake for more hours of the day.  This means that we are giving our bodies more time to send our brain signals such as, "I'm hungry," or "I'm thirsty."  This means that we have more time to fulfill those signals that our brains are sending us.  Often times they are trick messages to begin with, so it is important to know the true meaning of hunger and thirst.  Every time you get a little craving it may not be the best idea to run to D.P. Dough and order a calzone.  Having Gumby's on speed dial might not be the brightest idea ever too.  But I'm not here to judge, just inform.  

So the question I pose is eating food late at night smart and healthy?  Is it good for you?  Can you eat things at night that can actually improve your health?  The scientific community seems to warn against eating late at night, but if we were to listen to every scientist or their crazy predictions we would probably be spending the majority of our lives in bubbles or walking around wearing protective face masks in fear of some new strain of the flu that you only have a 1 in 99 trillion chance in getting.  

The problems with eating late at night include indigestion, weight gain, and slower metabolism.  Many will say that the latest you should eat is 9 PM.  When you do eat at 9 PM, you should only eat a light snack, not your full portion dinner that was supposed to be eaten at 6 or 7 PM.  Other studies out there have even went one step further than to just say eating at night is bad.  Some are looking in to eating at certain times of the day.  Researchers at the University of Northwestern have found that eating at the wrong time can lead to twice as much weight gain than eating at the right time of the day, even when the caloric intake may be the same.  Other new studies have shown that you need at least a 12 hour gap in time with no eating.  For example you should not eat from 8 PM to 8 AM.  This gives your body the appropriate amount of time to do it's magic as you are not ingesting calories and allowing it to burn through the fuel you have fed it throughout the day.  

All in all eating late at night is not the smartest option.  If you have fear of gaining weight, then I would recommend against it, and so would many others.  If you must satisfy your hunger late at night, there are plenty of other constructive things you could be doing.  Just don't make eating one of them. 



We all know that eating late at night is not the best idea but sometimes it is irresistible. Being college students, staying up late at night becomes part of the daily routine. I have found that if I eat a later dinner at around 8 rather than 6 then I tend to not eat while up studying and doing homework.

At the same time people tend to eat out of boredom. So when you're up late and want to find a distraction from your studies, your brain may send signals telling you that your hungry but you really aren't. Also chewing gum and having a bottle of water helps you not have those cravings.

Eating late at night can only make you gain weight not lose it so I agree, everyone should probably stay away from late night snacks. Unless of course you are one of those people that can eat whatever they want whenever they want without gaining a pound. You are the lucky ones.

This has been debated in my family for years! It's been a constant struggle because I tend to go to bed in the wee hours of the morning while my mother goes to bed around 9pm. She condemns any eating after 7pm but I debated whether this format was for people that were on a traditional sleeping schedule and not for "night owls." The New York Times reported a study on adult men and women, published in April in the journal "Obesity," has added support to the claim that eating late does have a greater effect on the waistline.

In the study, researchers followed the sleeping and eating patterns of 52 people over seven days. About half the subjects were “late sleepers,” meaning the midpoint of their sleep cycles was 5:30 a.m. or later. The others were “normal sleepers,” whose midpoints were before 5:30 a.m.

At the end of the study, the scientists found that the late sleepers had higher body mass indexes, typically downed more calories at dinner, and ate fewer fruits and vegetables. The late sleepers also slept fewer hours, a habit that is generally linked to weight gain. But even after adjusting for these and other variables, the scientists discovered that eating after 8 p.m. was associated with a higher body mass index, suggesting that late-evening calories are, for some reason, more hazardous to your weight.

I guess I was wrong and the human body just doesn't adjust well to food during the night no matter what your sleep schedule is.


Like Hayley said, it's inevitable for college students or even adults with stressful jobs to be up late at night. Keeping water around you can help ward off late night cravings, especially if you're one to get thirst and hunger confused.

Bringing up the fact that late sleepers are more likely to eat unhealthy foods and a large amount of them, it sounds like late sleepers feel a need to rush and eat, no matter if the food is healthy or not. Articles that I have read on this subject bring up the fact that eating late at night doesn't give your body time to metabolize whatever food you have eaten, especially if you eat breakfast as soon as you wake up. A tip for late sleepers or people that know they get hungry the longer they are awake, would be to eat a couple small meals during the day, reducing quantity but increasing the quality of nutrition.

I have always wondered if eating late at night is bad. I had heard from my mom, an avid dieter, that eating after seven is not a good idea. So after reading your article I wanted to find more proof. An article I saw on states that eating at night doesn't give your body time to digest the food. If you eat and then go to sleep shortly after, you aren't using the energy the food has given you and it just sits in your body and will not be used, causing weight gain. This article also agrees that eating at night can cause indigestion and you are likely to "not sleep as well and be physically uncomfortable." The best solution? According to MSNBC one should eat a good dinner at around 6 or 7 PM and then if you are hungry later, eat a snack that consists of 100-150 calories. What do you think? Should you even snack after dinner? Or will that also cause weight gain?


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