Is late night snacking making you fat?
Q: I hear about diets where you don't eat after 7 pm or within 3 hours of going to bed. Supposedly, if you eat at night, when the body slows down its processes, the food is stored as fat instead of being burned off. It seems to me that if you eat the correct amount, it wouldn’t matter what time you ate it.
A: I’m with you on this one. It’s true that your body has daily rhythms and that some processes slow down at night. Others speed up. That’s neither here nor there. Body fat accumulates when calorie intake exceeds calorie requirements. The real benefits of a "no eating after 7pm" rule are behavioral, not metabolic. For most people, following this rule cuts down on snacking and eliminates discretionary (read: excess) calories.
Calories consumed after 9pm won’t make you gain weight any faster than calories consumed earlier in the evening. Research shows that what matters most is how many calories you eat over the course of the day, not when you eat them!