“Midnight snacking is bad for you”, we have heard this proclaimed millions of times by different sources, but now there is actual research to back this claim. Studies show that when you eat is just as important as what we put inside our body. We try our best to eat clean and healthy foods during our “waking hours”, but when late night strikes, it’s almost like the hunger pangs preys on our body during its most vulnerable state and clouds our thinking, making us feel okay to make unhealthy decisions, after all we were good for the majority of our day, right?
In a study, half of the mice were allowed to eat any time during the day, the other half were only allowed to eat during a specific 8 hour window. The researchers analyzed their metabolic profiles after 100 days of data collection. Even though both groups were fed a high fat diet and consumed the same amount of calories, the first group who had access to food 24 hours a day were found to have a number of health problems. They suffered liver damage, weight gain, increase in cholesterol, sugar levels and motor problems. The second group though, whose access to food was restricted to 8 hours, weighed 28% less than the first group, and also they didn’t suffer any of the health problems observed in the first group.
So, in this article, let’s look at 3 main ways you are hurting your body with late night snacking:
- Eating Dinner Before Sleeping– Sleeping on a full stomach will hinder your sleep quality. Your internal clock (circadian rhythm) is set in a way where the your pancreas are programmed to be more active and produce more insulin during the day, and late night snacking can confuse it, causing your blood sugar levels to unnaturally fluctuate, making you prone to diabetes. The other problem is indigestion or heartburn. This occurs when the acid in your stomach regurgitates back into your esophagus, causing a burning sensation. You are more prone to this when you lie down on a full stomach, because you are not allowing for gravity assisted food movement. Lastly, eating right before bed will cause weight gain due to slower metabolism.
- Eating The Wrong “Night” Foods– Eating foods high in fat and protein before sleeping can cause sleep apnea. Alcohol should also be avoided right before bed because research shows that it will make you feel lethargic in the morning. Studies show that drinking alcohol will induce slow wave sleep (deep sleep) during the first half of your sleep cycle, and during the second half it will cause disruptions. Coffee should be avoided due to caffeine and dark chocolate should also be avoided due to a compound called theobromine which has caffeine like effects. Spicy foods before bed can cause indigestion. Fatty foods should also be avoided because they can cause fragmented sleeping patterns. Plus, not getting enough sleep will make you irritable and more prone to craving high sugar and fatty foods the next day.
- Skipping Dinner And Sleeping On An Empty Stomach– Sleeping on an empty stomach, when you are clearly hungry, will keep you alert and awakened at night. Subsequently, not getting enough sleep will lower your metabolism and increase the level of the hunger hormone ghrelin, making you want to overeat. Sleeping without eating dinner can also cause muscle loss. It suppresses the body’s capability to convert protein into muscle, and when your body is deprived of nutrients it fulfills its needs from breaking down muscles.
We can’t pick times to be healthy. To lose weight, we have to make healthy decisions 24×7. Your body constantly strives to keep you alive, so why feed it with dangerous food at night? Once we learn to respect our body, suddenly that piece of chocolate cake at night doesn’t seem as tempting anymore.
Have you ever engaged in late night snacking? How was your sleep? How did you feel the next day? Please let us know in the comments section below.