Scaremongers are at it again. If you read the headlines and online gossip, you could be thinking you mustn’t eat after 6 p.m. Folks who give into tempting snacks when darkness falls are said to expand their waistlines. However, will you put on extra weight just because you eat after dark? The answer is no. Here’s why.
Exercise is the issue
The real problem people face when eating food late stems from the way they slow down at night. If you eat an iced bun in the evening, you’re less likely to burn off the calories you’ve ingested than if you had the bun with your morning coffee.
Then again, if you are a night owl, maybe you’ll use some of those calories after all rather than gaining weight. Even so, slumping in front of the TV into the wee hours means you’re not as active as you are in the day. Consuming less food to match your level of activity makes sense.
Can you eat after 6 p.m. then?
Absolutely. Fitness coach Adam Bornstein said, “Your body isn’t on a 24-hour clock. What counts is whether you burn more calories than you ingest over time. Weight loss and fat gain do not occur in a vacuum.”
If Bornstein’s message is music to your ears, you might also consider the wise advice of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Weight Loss Clinic, which recommends “you eat dinner at least three to four hours before going to bed to give your body time to digest the meal.” UAMS also suggest “dinner should be your smallest meal of the day.”
Put the two pieces of advice together, and you’ll see it is smart to curb your appetite as the day progresses. Of course, you could work out late at night to shift calorie intake. However, strenuous exercise close to bedtime can interfere with your ability to sleep.
Your best bet when trying to avoid weight gain might be to eat your main meal before the afternoon, do your workout, and then consume a light supper. You can always experiment and see what works for you.
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