We have all heard the warning of never eating after 8 p.m. or you’ll gain weight. But this may not actually be the case — your metabolism doesn’t actually shut down at night. (Your metabolism doesn’t even know how to tell time.) So really, the key to weight loss mostly just comes down to the basics of calories-in versus calories-out.
And while some experts are still at odds over the research, there are some definite benefits to halting the habit of nighttime snacking, especially when trying to lose weight.
The thing is, most people hit their daily caloric intake requirements by dinner, so having a set time to stop eating might stop you from consuming more than you should. This also keeps you from committing the ultimate sin that ruins all diets: eating out of boredom!
But, if you plan (key word being plan) your total caloric intake to be reached later than your dinner meal, you should still have no issues maintaining or losing weight, as long as you consume only the calories needed for the day.
That being said, it’s incredibly important to pay attention to what exactly you’re eating after 8 p.m. You definitely do not want to eat any form of carbohydrates late at night because it will only add to the glycogen stores in your body, keeping you from going into fat burn while you’re asleep.
Wait — burning fat while you sleep?
Through a complicated process, your liver will actually use up all the glycogen in your body to regulate your blood-sugar levels. So it moves on to something else: body fat.
So, if a nighttime snack is just something you don’t feel you can let go of, be sure to make good food choices like lean proteins, vegetables and healthy fats instead of ice cream, cookies and cake.
Another option: Before you reach for that snack, create the habit of making a nightly cup of herbal hot tea. Not only can herbal tea soothe and calm you (which is helpful in preparing for bed), but it’s also been known to curb cravings and hunger. Try out different options such as chamomile, lemon or caffeine-free green tea.
If all else fails, brush your teeth! (After a good, cleansing minty brushing, nothing you eat will taste delicious enough to keep eating.)
With your newfound knowledge and resolve, consider this new nighttime eating routine that should help lead you to success:
•Eat a full and satisfying dinner.
•Plan a nighttime carbohydrate-free snack that will satisfy your desire to snack but that won’t put you past your calorie intake for the day.
•Drink a lot of water, then settle in and get cozy with your favorite cup of hunger-reducing herbal tea.
•Brush your teeth.
•Go to bed at a reasonable time. Sometimes staying up will cause you to eat out of boredom instead of just getting a good night’s rest.