The time at which you eat is important. There has been intense debate over eating at night and its supposedly adverse consequences. Studies have shown both negative and positive results. However, the common ground seems to be that it depends on what you eat and the quantity. “Eat late, gain weight” is a time old myth that has been busted by recent studies. And it doesn’t stop there. Read on to see how smart snacking can help you burn more calories in your sleep.
- Eating at Night: The Past and the Present
- What Causes Weight Gain
- Foods That Boost Metabolism & Muscle Growth
- The Verdict on Eating at Night
Eating at Night: The Past and the Present
Past researchers laid emphasis on the harmful effects of eating late in general. Whether it’s a pack of chips, a protein bar, or alcohol, the result was said to be the same. Thus, experts reached a conclusion: If you eat late, you will gain weight.
Modern research, however, suggests that although eating processed foods in the middle of the night can make you gain weight, replace that with protein-rich snacks and you are likely to gain healthy muscle mass instead. Hence, the focus has shifted from when you eat to what and how much you eat.
Whether it’s thirst or habitual cravings driving you out of bed and into the kitchen at night, you can convert this into an opportunity. Yes, you can snack your way to muscle gain, if you follow the right method.
Metabolism refers to the process through which your body converts the food and drinks you consume into energy. This energy is needed for you to move around, burn fat/calories, and, in turn, lose weight.
Processed food items can slow down your metabolism, which is already slower during sleep. The more you eat, the slower your metabolism, and naturally you’ll burn less calories. For example, alcohol is best taken at least three hours before bed, otherwise, your chances of weight gain will increase tremendously.
When you consume alcohol or eat too much at night, your body shifts all its focus to digestion. This can negatively affect your sleep, and sleeping well is part of preventing weight gain, because during REM (the deepest level of sleep), our brains are the most active. An active brain works hard to burn as much calories as possible in order to maximize energy gain.
So, you need to practice portion control to promote muscle formation and fat loss. The right kind of food eaten in adequate quantities can help satisfy your cravings and also help your muscles grow. You’ll be hitting two birds with one stone.
What Causes Weight Gain
Weight gain resulting from late night eating is related to the consumption of unhealthy snacks and overeating. It may be boredom, stress, or tiredness that may compel you to increase your calorie count significantly by munching on cookies, pizza, or ice cream late at night.
Since you’re likely to be too tired to cook a healthy meal for yourself at two in the morning, there is a high chance you’ll settle for fast food. And that is part of the problem. Plus, if you eat while watching TV, you are more likely to end up consuming a larger quantity of those unhealthy calories due to distraction.
Recently, experts have started to opine that late-night eaters lose slightly more fat than those who eat earlier in the night. The difference lies in what they choose to eat and their total calorie intake, and usually it’s foods or snacks that are high in protein and good nutrition.
Protein-rich snacks are a healthy alternative to sugary and processed foods. They make you feel fuller without tipping your calorie count off. So, the cause of weight gain is not night time, but poor food choices. If your calorie intake remains the same as your needs, then you need not fear weight gain.
Eating at night can trigger binging and overconsumption. Foods rich in fats and sugar always leave you wanting more. If you want to avoid weight gain, then you must choose quick, healthy snacks over fast food items.
Foods That Boost Metabolism & Muscle Growth
There are certain foods that can actually speed up your metabolism. You can eat them even late at night without any worries. Try avocado with cottage cheese, cherries, a protein shake, a banana, or some high fiber cereal. The choices are endless!
Another great combination you must try is some homemade or store-bought hummus with whole-grain toast—a protein-rich and delicious late-night snack. A glass of pomegranate juice can be your go-to drink because it is usually free of sugars, preservatives, and caffeine.
If you’re still wondering how you can boost your metabolism even more, try exercising regularly. Exercising is miraculous for weight loss, if done everyday and in combination with a good diet. It can also help improve your sleep, so you’ll be able to burn more calories.
Here is a fifteen-minute HIIT workout that you can do to boost your metabolism.
Foods that boost metabolism increase the rate of fat loss through conversion of calories into energy. That means a few apple slices with your favorite peanut butter won’t harm you, unless you consume too much of it. There are tons of healthy desserts too if you’re craving something sweet.
Nutrient-dense foods are easier to digest, and satisfy hunger far better than processed foods. In fewer calories, you can eat the same amount and improve your body rather than damaging it with toxins.
At night, while you sleep, your muscles repair themselves. A growth hormone is also secreted at this time, which allows the muscles to grow as well. In this way, the increasing and strengthening of muscles leads to the burning of fats.
Protein-rich foods contain amino acids that are essential for muscles to grow. By eating a protein snack before bed, you can make the best of this muscle strengthening in your sleep. So instead of eating junk food, try eggs, yogurt, lentils, nuts, and so on.
The Verdict on Eating at Night
Eating late can cause weight gain if you munch on too much unhealthy junk food. If you are careful and eat a small quantity of some protein-rich snack before sleeping, it can actually do you more good than harm. The conditions, therefore, for weight loss and muscle gain are portion control and good food choices. Add regular exercise to that duo, and you’ll be burning more calories in your sleep than ever before.