Late night munching make you fat!?

Updated: Sep 20, 2020

One of the more common commandments that dieters get hurled at is that they need to lock the kitchen after 8 PM and quit late night snacking to lose weight. Although it is a good habit, but not because eating anything late at night will make you gain weight rather due to more obvious reasons.

What you eat: admittedly, we’re not left with a lot of choices at midnight. Most of the people go for convenience foods which are usually highly processed and calorie dense while some make poor food choices due to emotional cravings caused due to stress, anxiety, sadness or simply boredom.

How much you eat: several studies have found that people who snack late night or have dinner closer to their bedtime tend to eat more overall calories.

The takeaway box:

There are two arguments that need to be debunked about late night eating, first common misconception is that our metabolism slows down when we are sleeping which may cause us to covert more calories into fat than energy and second is that eating late at night is against our body’s cardiac rhythm which naturally signals us to eat during the day and sleep during the night. Multiple studies prove that our bodies still need almost the same amount of energy during the night and cardiac rhythm theory doesn’t work in humans, therefore above listed reasons are more plausible as they lead to surplus calorie consumption. It is best to avoid regular late night snacking specially if you suffer from Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or during your weight loss journey unless you have healthier options available and having a filling dinner may help curb the cravings. You can also follow these tips to change your late night binging habits.

References and further reading:

Baron KG, Reid KJ, Kern AS, Zee PC. Role of sleep timing in caloric intake and BMI. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011;19(7):1374-1381. doi:10.1038/oby.2011.100.

Gifkins J, Johnston A, Loudoun R. The impact of shift work on eating patterns and self-care strategies utilised by experienced and inexperienced nurses. Chronobiol Int. 2018;35(6):811-820. doi:10.1080/07420528.2018.1466790.

Jones, T., 2016. Is Eating Before Bed Good For You, Or Bad?. [online] Healthline. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 August 2020].

Meixner, M., 2018. Does Eating Late At Night Cause Weight Gain?. [online] Healthline. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 August 2020].

Reid KJ, Baron KG, Zee PC. Meal timing influences daily caloric intake in healthy adults. Nutr Res. 2014;34(11):930-935. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2014.09.010.

Schoffelen PF, Westerterp KR. Intra-individual variability and adaptation of overnight- and sleeping metabolic rate. Physiol Behav. 2008;94(2):158-163. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.12.013

Yau YH, Potenza MN. Stress and eating behaviors. Minerva Endocrinol. 2013;38(3):255-267.

Yoshida, Junko, et al. "Association of night eating habits with metabolic syndrome and its components: a longitudinal study." BMC Public Health 18.1 (2018): 1366.