Can Eating At Night Lead To Weight Gain?
Nutritionist Rupali Datta explains why eating at night can cause weight gain and affect body's digestive system.
Eating at night can cause weight gain
- Body's metabolism gets slower as the day descends
- Avoid eating high-calorie foods at night
- Snacking at night can cause weight gain
It is a common tendency to eat at night and spend the rest of the time in feeling guilty about it. Experts suggest that there should ideally be a gap of 2 hours between your dinner time and bed time. But unexpected meeting or last-minute change in plans can always hamper your well-planned schedule of a day. The body's metabolism is faster during the day and slows down as the day descends. This is the reason why low-calorie foods are suggested during night time as slow metabolism may make it difficult for the body to digest the food.
Metabolism slows down as the day descends and causes weight gain
Eat your breakfast like a king, your lunch like a prince and your dinner like a pauper is quite an old adage. "The simple reasoning behind this is when you start your day, you are looking at almost 18 hours of working. The body's rhythm works in a way that you need more food during the day and lesser at night," says Dr Rupali Datta
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When the sun rises, the body warms up for the day. Energy levels slowly go down as the body begins to prepare for night. You do not do much physical activity towards the end of the day as you are mostly planning to sleep for the next few hours.
"The body needs more energy and calories in the morning to function and lesser in the night. You may not be eating more calories in the day than what is required. Of the 1400 calories that you are supposed to consume in a day, having a heavy dinner will be like consuming most of the calories at a time when they aren't even required by the body. Whatever the body doesn't use is going to be stored as fat in the body," explains Dr Rupali.
This is because metabolism slows down towards evening.
2 hours gap between dinner and bed time
It is suggested to eat 2 hours before hitting bed time because that aids in making your digestive system healthy, says Dr Rupali. "Healthy digestion always adds to maintaining your weight. Ideally, night should actually be the time when your kitchen shuts down."
Snacking at night can lead to weight gain
Snack at night while watching TV or doing any other household chores is another common tendency. "These snacks are usually the ones which are not healthy and are giving us only calories and fats. So, eating the wrong kind of food at the wrong time can contribute to weight gain, even if you are eating very well during the day," she explains.
Cravings and binge-eating at night can lead to weight gain
Another common factor about eating at night is binge-eating and experiencing cravings for sweets, junk food, etc. Dr Rupali says that this is because stress levels in the day are quite lesser as compared to your stress levels at night.
Giving an example, she says, "When people start worrying about their food, they take out the food that is necessary for the body. Most people don't eat well throughout the day when they actually need it. You skip your breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day... your lunch is nutritionally important and you are having only a roti with a little dal or sabzi. So it becomes imperative to eat more at night because that time you're relaxed mentally."
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Eating at night can lead to weight gain
The whole science behind weight gain at night is that you eat more food at a time when it is required by the body. Anything that you take more than what is required will lead to weight gain.
Concluding, she says that to prevent weight gain, it is important to follow body's circadian rhythm - which is known as body's 24-hour internal clock that constantly runs in the background of brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It's also known as your sleep/wake cycle.
(Dr Rupali Datta is Consultant Nutritionist at Fortis Escorts)
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