DOES EATING MORE AT NIGHT RESULT IN WEIGHT GAIN?

Just go and search on the internet about “Weight loss tips”. You will always get the idea that you “shouldn’t eat at night” or “skip your dinner”.

Do you know why?

The proposers of this idea usual have one reason that your metabolism at night is very slow and so whatever you eat at night will not get burn properly and calories will be store as fats in your body instead of broken down and conversion to energy.

YEAH! It sounds like very scientific but the question is- IS IT TRUE?

  • DOES THE METABOLISM REALLY GET SLOWED DOWN AS THE SUNSETS?
  • ARE CALORIES CONSUMED IN THE NIGHT GENERATES MORE FATS IN YOUR BODY THAN THE FATS CONSUMED IN THE MORNING?
  • CAN EAT FEWER CALORIES AT NIGHT AND HIGHER CALORIE IN THE MORNING WILL REALLY HELP YOU TO LOSE WEIGHT?

You will get all the answers to these questions in the following articles.

You will come to know why do people think about not to eat or eat less at night will help them in losing weight or eating higher calories at night will result in weight gain.

What is the science behind eating late at night affects your metabolism?

LET US FIND OUT ANSWERS TO ALL THE QUESTIONS:

WHY DO PEOPLE BELIEVE IN WEIGHT GAIN ON EATING AT NIGHT?

Since so many years, The Internet doctors, the weight loss trainers and weight loss GURUs have always claimed that the metabolism rate is at the peak in the early morning and gradually lowers down to the evening and slowest at night.

Therefore, they always strictly suggest you consume higher calories in the morning and fewer calories at night to avoid weight gain.

 There is an old saying which validates this idea, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”

Is this true?

Does our body burn fewer calories at night?

And if this is true, does eating more calories in the evening will result in more body fat gain?

Before proceeding, let us define the “METABOLISM”

The oxford definition of metabolism is:

The chemical processes that occur within a living organism to maintain life”

“There are 2 kinds of metabolism: 

1. Constructive metabolism, or anabolism, the synthesis of the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that form tissue and store energy; 

2. Destructive metabolism, or catabolism, the breakdown of complex substances and the consequent production of energy and waste matter.”

In simple words, we can say, “Metabolism is the body’s ability to use various chemical processes to produce, maintain & breakdown of different substances and to avail the energy to the cells.”

So what do people mean by a “Slow Metabolism” or “Fast Metabolism”.

These terms refer to Body’s metabolism rate i.e. the total amount of energy body uses in a single day to perform the different functions involved in metabolism.

In general, when people speak about the metabolism, they are actually talking about BASAL METABOLIC RATE (BMR), which is the how many calories your body requires to stay in life( physical activities are not included)

So whenever any person speaks about the “slow” metabolism he/she simply meant that your BMR is lower than normal and vice versa.

So the question is,

Is it true that your metabolism (BMR) is getting slower every day from morning to evening?

Well, the answer is straight “NO”.

Going forward, if it does, it is not like eating more at night will make you fatter than eating earlier in the morning.

Why?

First of all, research by the scientist of USDA, shows that BMR doesn’t change significantly while you sleep. That is, your BMR remains at the same level during the morning, afternoon, evening and even when you are sleeping.

Research conducted by the scientists of Columbia University proves that, in people who have a healthy weight, BMR increases slightly when they are asleep.

 Second, your metabolism goes slightly to decrease throughout the day. Would this matter?

No, it wouldn’t matter, the reason behind is the ENERGY BALANCE.

Energy Balance Equation:

Energy (In) – Energy (Out) = Energy Balance

When energy (In) is excess to the Energy (Out) over the period, then you are consuming more calories than you are burning. Then actually you are having a calories SURPLUS. When you live with a calorie SURPLUS for days, weeks and months, you gain bodyweight.

The reverse is also true.

When energy (out) is excess to the Energy (In) over the period, then you are consuming fewer calories than you are burning. Then actually you are calories DEFICIT. When you live with a calorie DEFICIT for days, weeks and months, you LOSE bodyweight.

Here’s the summary:

After every meal, either, breakfast, lunch or dinner, your body burns off some amount of calories for instant energy needs and stores some amount of calories in the form of fat (Post Prandial state). After your body is done with the digestion of your food of that meal, It depends on the stored fats to meet the energy requirement until the next meal(Post absorptive state).

So, let us conclude it in a very easy way, like your bank account,

Whenever you take your meal, you make a deposit of fat in your body, and every time you stay between your meal without eating anything, you lose fat, simply you make a withdrawal.

So, getting to the conclusion to if you are gaining weight or not, it depends on simply if you are making deposits and withdrawals over time. Deposits and withdrawals throughout a day are not relevant. 

So, Over the period, the average intake of calories to an average expenditure of calories will determine whether you will gain weight, lose weight or remain at the same weight no matter when have you eaten those calories throughout your day.

  Also, slowing down of metabolism thought becomes invalid as if you workout in the evening, you will burn far more calories than any other time of that day.

To put it differently, even when that your BMR decreased through the afternoon, also when this led to more fat profit in the day, you might work around this dilemma by intentionally exercising at the day.

Not that this matters, because your metabolism does not slow down in the day.

The main point is your BMR is the same rate in any way times, making great sense when you consider it. Your liver, your brain, kidneys, lungs and other organs (that are responsible for the vast majority of your BMR) require as much energy out of 9 to 10 p.m. since they do from 9 to 10 a.m., after all.

SUMMARY- Your metabolism isn’t slower in the evening than in the morning, and even if it was, calories consumed at night still would not be more fattening than calories consumed in the morning.

WHAT IS THE SCIENCE BEHIND EATING AT NIGHT

So you know, Your metabolism isn’t slower in the evening than in the morning, and even if it was, calories consumed at night still would not be more fattening than calories consumed in the morning.

Now you must be wondering if there are any benefits of eating less at night.

There have been researches over this issue and shows that consuming more calories in the morning may increase the THERMIC EFFECT OF FOOD (TEF)” or it can be understood as how much calories burnt by the body to digest the calories taken after the meal.

The researchers of the University of Lubeck, splits 16 non-obese, healthy people into 2 groups.

  1. Large Breakfast Group (consumed 69% calories in breakfast, 20% in lunch & 11% in dinner)
  2. Large Dinner Group (consumed 11% calories in breakfast, 20% in lunch & 69% in dinner)

Both the groups consumed the same amount of calories and the same amount of carbs, fat and protein. They did not exercise during the entire study.

Blood sugar, insulin and other hormones were measured daily. They also measured the person’s level of hunger and the want of sweets prior to each meal and several hours after dinner.

RESULTS

TEF(large breakfast group) = 2 X TEF (Small breakfast group)

That means the large breakfast group burned 50-100 calories extra because of twice TEF.

Also, the “Large Breakfast Group” was less hunger during the day and fewer cravings for sweets after the 5 hours of breakfast than the “Large Dinner Group” immediately before the dinner.

Context:

Large Breakfast Group– Hunger declined significantly after breakfast, and then it was low during the day and further declined off after dinner.

Large Dinner Group– Hunger increased after breakfast(as they ate very small breakfast) and declined only after dinner.

Conclusions of the Research:

  1. Eating large breakfast increases your “Total Daily Energy Expenditure”(TDEE), over time, despite eating the same number of calories, you may experience weight loss.
  2. You may experience less hunger and cravings throughout the day if you have a large breakfast.

There was a limitation in this study that the participants were not allowed to exercise. So it is not clear if the same results and conclusions would apply to those people who do exercise regularly. As other researchers have proven that exercise has positive results on your appetite and increase your TEF, doesn’t matter, when have you eaten.

Also, there may be participants who may not actually be used to eat a large dinner and may have affected the study.

Another Study on “INTERMITTENT FASTING” conducted by the researchers from Kennesaw State University on 26 healthy and active men. They were maintaining the protein-rich and low-calorie diet. They also followed the 4 weeks strength training program.

13 of the total consumed their calories intake from Noon to 8 PM (skipping the breakfast) and 13 followed the normal diet plan.

At the end of the 4th week, all the participants lose the same amount of fat and gained the same amount of strength and also both the groups experienced the same level of hunger.

Another study conducted on Obese people who have their calories intake in breakfast, others in dinner and others throughout the day. All lost the same amount of weight.

THE SCIENCE SAYS:

  1. Eating more calories in the daytime rather than the evening will not force you to eliminate fat alone, you need to keep up a calorie deficit to eliminate weight.
  2. If you are in a state of calorie deficit already, eating extra calories in the daytime can assist you to burn a few more calories every day and feel hungry, but it is still not clear how successful this plan actually is.
  3. If you are consuming enough calories to keep your weight, eating extra calories in the day will not cause you to gain weight.

THE CONCLUSION ON EATING AT NIGHT

Many people who think that their metabolism rate slows down in the evening than in the morning and eating more at night will result in more fat, well this is not true.

Your BMR is the same at all times of the day whether more or less. Even if it is lesser in the evening it won’t magically increase fat into your body.

The weight gain will happen only in case of “Calorie Surplus” that is too over the period of time.

Although some studies have revealed that consuming more calories in the morning may slightly improve metabolic rate, there are a couple of difficulties with this study which makes it difficult to say how successful this strategy actually is.

In addition, the majority of research shows that skipping breakfast entirely or consuming more calories in the evening doesn’t have any effect on fat or weight loss.

Also, the people who eat more calorie at night or even all of their calories will lose as much as weight who eat in the morning.

So let us get back to our Original question: DOES EATING OR CONSUMING CALORIES AT NIGHT WILL RESULT IN WEIGHT GAIN?

No, Absolutely Not.

Consuming too many calories over the period of time and being in the state of calorie surplus will lead to weight gain; the most important point to look upon is calorie intake.

REFERENCES:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32073608
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10099943/

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