People ask me the same question over and over: “is it bad to eat at night? I shouldn’t eat after 6 pm, then it all turns to fat, right?” WRONG!
The fact is our bodies are constantly burning energy, even while we sit. It really doesn’t matter if you eat something before bed (such as a small snack if you are hungry). Researchers, however have been investigating the difference between meal frequency as well as when you consume the majority of your calories. In other words, does it matter if you eat the same number of calories in ONE meal verses several? Does it matter if you eat very little during the day and then MOST of your calories in the evening?
That is a different story! The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently published a study discussing this very topic. In the April, 2015 issue, “The Impact of Eating Frequency and Time of Intake on Nutrient Quality and Body Mass Index: The INTERMAP Study” the eating pattern of 2,385 participants were evaluated (1,232 men and 1,153 women). The principal findings demonstrated that more frequent eating (eating 6 times per day) as well as a higher energy intake during the day verses during the evening resulted in a lower BMI as well as an improvement in nutrition quality. In other words, those who tended to avoid eating that often (<3 eating occasions during the day instead of 3 meals and 2-3 snacks) tended to eat most of their calories at night, and their diets weren’t as healthy. The frequent eaters (6x daily) still ate at night, however they tended to spread it out (they did not miss meals during the day).
What does this mean for you? If you want to have a healthier diet, and be the weight your body is supposed to be, you need to fuel your body all through the day. This study strengthens the evidence that skipping meals during the day requires that you will need to make up for it in the evening. A snack is fine, and a late meal is fine, too. But when you do not eat enough during the day, you will be starving and tend to overeat.
So go ahead and have that snack if you are hungry!! Just be sure to give your body what it needs during the day too!!