03
June
2013

The Dangers of Late-Night Eating

Why eating late at night can be detrimental to your health

The urge for a late-night snack is hard to deny. Or maybe you get home late from work after not eating all day and down a huge meal before going to bed. Regardless of why, we tend to eat late at night, but how does it affect your health? After all, a calorie is a calorie, right? While that may be true, there are still some health considerations to take into account when deciding what to eat and when.

Calories count, but does time of day?

In terms of simple math, 1 gram of protein or carbohydrates contains 4 calories, while 1 gram of fat contains 9. It doesn’t matter where the grams come from, saturated or unsaturated, whole-grain or processed, etc. When it comes to counting these calories, you either have a deficit at the end of the day, in which you expended more energy through exercise than you ate, a surplus, meaning you ate more than you spent, or an even exchange. If you are thinking about weight gain or weight loss, a surplus/deficit of approximately 3500 calories results in a gain/loss of 1 pound. This is true regardless of what type of exercise you do, what type of food you eat, and what time of day you eat and exercise.

Apart from that, there are certain physiological impacts of eating certain types and quantities of foods at certain times of day. For instance, it is important to eat an adequate amount of calories immediately after you get up in order to increase blood glucose levels to get your body moving. Conversely, eating a large meal right before going to bed implies that the calories digested during the night are not immediately used by physical activity. They are used in large part to repair damage to the body caused during the day’s activities and to facilitate digestion, but any excess calories absorbed by the intestines would be stored first as glycogen (the stored form of glucose) and then as fat.

But a more important issue that the late hour of your meal is what type of meal you eat. Oftentimes we eat late at night because of a long day at work, and we get home starving. This can lead to over-eating, as we consume more calories in the late-night meal than we really need. This excess consumption of food can also produce indigestion and discomfort, which can interrupt healthy sleeping patterns. You are also likely to wake up the next day with digestion issues and a lack of hunger at breakfast, which can further alter your normal eating habits. In order to avoid eating an excessively large late-night meal, try keeping healthy snacks on-hand throughout the day, such as carrot sticks, nuts, fruit, and granola. Eat small amounts periodically, which will keep your metabolic rate elevated and your hunger at bay.

Late-night eating may also be a result of mindless snacking, which is where we eat as an afterthought while engaged in activities such as surfing the web, reading, or watching television. Make sure you are really hungry and not just bored before you go for a late-night snack. If you know yourself to be a late-night snacker, make sure the snacks available to you in your home are healthy options, such as light turkey breast, granola, or yogurt, as opposed to fatty, sugary, processed foods.

Categories: Food and Health

5.0/5 rating (1 votes)

Nutrition Facts

03
June
2013

The Dangers of Late-Night Eating

Why eating late at night can be detrimental to your health

The urge for a late-night snack is hard to deny. Or maybe you get home late from work after not eating all day and down a huge meal before going to bed. Regardless of why, we tend to eat late at night, but how does it affect your health? After all, a calorie is a calorie, right? While that may be true, there are still some health considerations to take into account when deciding what to eat and when.

Calories count, but does time of day?

In terms of simple math, 1 gram of protein or carbohydrates contains 4 calories, while 1 gram of fat contains 9. It doesn’t matter where the grams come from, saturated or unsaturated, whole-grain or processed, etc. When it comes to counting these calories, you either have a deficit at the end of the day, in which you expended more energy through exercise than you ate, a surplus, meaning you ate more than you spent, or an even exchange. If you are thinking about weight gain or weight loss, a surplus/deficit of approximately 3500 calories results in a gain/loss of 1 pound. This is true regardless of what type of exercise you do, what type of food you eat, and what time of day you eat and exercise.

Apart from that, there are certain physiological impacts of eating certain types and quantities of foods at certain times of day. For instance, it is important to eat an adequate amount of calories immediately after you get up in order to increase blood glucose levels to get your body moving. Conversely, eating a large meal right before going to bed implies that the calories digested during the night are not immediately used by physical activity. They are used in large part to repair damage to the body caused during the day’s activities and to facilitate digestion, but any excess calories absorbed by the intestines would be stored first as glycogen (the stored form of glucose) and then as fat.

But a more important issue that the late hour of your meal is what type of meal you eat. Oftentimes we eat late at night because of a long day at work, and we get home starving. This can lead to over-eating, as we consume more calories in the late-night meal than we really need. This excess consumption of food can also produce indigestion and discomfort, which can interrupt healthy sleeping patterns. You are also likely to wake up the next day with digestion issues and a lack of hunger at breakfast, which can further alter your normal eating habits. In order to avoid eating an excessively large late-night meal, try keeping healthy snacks on-hand throughout the day, such as carrot sticks, nuts, fruit, and granola. Eat small amounts periodically, which will keep your metabolic rate elevated and your hunger at bay.

Late-night eating may also be a result of mindless snacking, which is where we eat as an afterthought while engaged in activities such as surfing the web, reading, or watching television. Make sure you are really hungry and not just bored before you go for a late-night snack. If you know yourself to be a late-night snacker, make sure the snacks available to you in your home are healthy options, such as light turkey breast, granola, or yogurt, as opposed to fatty, sugary, processed foods.

Categories: Food and Health

5.0/5 rating (1 votes)

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