This month here at Fabulously Fighting we are going to be doing some myth busting on a few of the health and wellness tips floating around out there. We live in the great technological age, where everything is available at your fingertips. Unfortunately, much of this information is skewed or flawed even when backed by “research”. Studies can be misleading depending on the size and scope of the study and who is financially backing it. First up – should you eat before bed?
For so long we have been told that eating before bed or after a certain time at night will make us gain weight. It really isn’t as simple as that. The equation for weight loss or weight gain is quite simple – are you taking in more calories than you are expending? Or are you taking in too few calories (too much of a deficit) for what you are expending (this will be another myth buster topic soon). If you didn’t eat all day and then ate a full day’s worth of calories at night, you wouldn’t necessarily gain weight. You may have trouble sleeping or experience heartburn consuming that many calories before bed, but if your caloric intake for the day was less than your expenditure, you would maintain your weight or possibly lose.
Waiting to eat until night time is not ideal for your metabolism which needs fuel throughout the day to stay in fat burning mode vs fat storage mode, however. Spacing smaller meals out throughout the day has been proven to aid in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Having a small meal or snack about an hour before bed, especially one high in easily digested protein, can actually fire up your metabolism to stay in fat burning mode while you sleep.
So where did this “myth” come from? Most often when we are eating late at night, it is out of boredom, stress or habit. We generally consume more calories than we have expended during the day when indulging in this late night snacking and therefor we gain weight. In addition, eating large, heavy meals before going to sleep is not ideal for how our bodies function. When we sleep, digestion slows down, so larger meals will take longer to be digested which can disrupt sleep and cause indigestion. Ideally, we are not digesting for too long once asleep and instead our bodies can switch into detox mode where the filtration organs (liver and kidneys) work to clean themselves and our body removes waste from our cells.
So, it is ok to eat before bed, but keep it light, lower carb and higher in protein to support your metabolism and healthy blood sugar levels while sleeping. Nuts, nut butter, berries, cheese, protein powder (free of toxins, heavy metals, etc) are some options. Keep in mind, if this snack goes over your daily calorie needs (what you take in versus expend) it can lead to weight gain, but it isn’t the time of day that is causing that.