Myth buster – Eating late at night leads to fat gain
I’m getting straight to the point for all of you out there who are on the road to fat loss and tell you right now that eating past 8 pm does not lead to fat gain! Without even jibbering on any more, here is your answer…but I will continue to jibber and explain why it won’t lead to fat gain…
Let’s get a little bit sciency for a bit 😀
The human body is an amazing piece of kit, it’s so amazing that it can even tell the different type of calorie that you are digesting. It can recognise how to use proteins, fats and carbs and segregate them in specific ways in order to allow the body to function optimally. When we talk about energy expenditure, our body utilises energy derived from carbohydrates first, then fats and last of all protein. It does it this way because in order to carry out a specific task the body needs the simple sugars which turn in to glucose, pyruvate and so on to produce the action. Simple sugars are constituents of carbohydrates and therefore our body utilises carbs first prior to fats and proteins. Fats when broken down tend to be used for lower intensity work and the body likes to hold on to this for more than just energy production. (If you guys want to know more about the uses of fats then have a look at my previous entry which I must have done months ago talking about fats and its benefits). Obviously the body doesn’t want to use protein for obvious reasons and for all you gym hunks you definitely know why!
So at this point you might be thinking ‘eh? how does this help with fat loss and eating late at night?’ Well now we know a little bit about the different energy sources we can talk more about eating. When you eat any type of food your blood sugar level rises – the body does not like this increase and so it tells the beta cells from the pancreas to release insulin to carry the extra sugar from the blood and store it in either the liver, fat cells or muscles for later use. This is completely natural and whatever time of day you eat, this will happen. However, the only thing you can control is the type of food you have. If you are munching on gummy bears and smarties whilst watching ‘The avengers’ then your blood sugar levels will spike due to the large increase of sugar, but if you eat more fibrous foods such as oats then there will be a much more stable sugar level and this will create much less stress for the pancreas to sort out the blood sugar levels. Now what you find when eating simple sugars or smaller chained carbs is that due to the high release of blood sugar levels, more insulin will be released to deal with it causing a serious low in blood sugar levels which in turn causes you to feel hungrier a lot sooner. But eating more fibre does the opposite – because there is a steady sugar level and a steady release in insulin you will not be feeling hungry for a long period of time. So see it all depends on what you eat and WHEN you eat!
Enough of the science, let’s get down to business…
So what happens if you feel hungry after eating your dinner at say 7 or 8? Well think, first of all have you drank enough water? How was your activity levels during that day? What did you eat for dinner? All these questions should be crossing your mind to rule out the cause of hunger. Now if you have eaten healthy, trained well and drank a sufficient amount of water and you are still hungry then that is your body telling you that it needs energy. So ladies and gentlemen what do you do? … you EAT!
Starving the body or preventing it from consuming calories for energy is a detrimental process not just for fat loss but for your internal systems too. If you think that just because it’s past 9 at night that you cannot eat well then you are completely wrong! Limiting the body from energy when it wants it will only cause the body to hold on to fat stores rather than releasing them for energy and this in turn causes more fat to be deposited in your adipose tissue. This is a survival system backdated from thousands of years ago where we could go days without any food and because of this the body has developed a safety system so when it is in need of food and food is scarce then it will hold on to fat stores and not let go of them. So in order to shred the fat you want to feed the body – backwards eh!
QUALITY OVER ANYTHING! Remember that – so when you are feeling a bit peckish at night time remember it’s the higher fibre, healthy fats and proteins that you want to consume rather than the simple sugars. The fats will help to keep your sugar levels stable and keep hunger at bay not to mention increase the metabolism of fat burning cells. The fibre will help stailise blood sugar levels and improve digestion and even help to carry protein in to cells for metabolism. Protein last of all helps curb hunger pangs and keeps you fuller for longer and increase the metabolism of fat by increasing body temperature.
So remember, eating late night does not lead to fat gain, if it did then lots of athletes, gym junkies and fitness gurus would be walking around with a balloon in their stomach. Some people even eat a bowl of porridge late at night if they have an early morning gym session so they know that their liver has enough glycogen stores for the bout of session in the morning. If you are training early morning and physically cannot stomach an early breakfast or even a snack then yes you can eat breakfast the night before such as a bowl of oats or cottage cheese with some fruit or even peanut butter sandwiches. This energy will simply be used for that gym session the morning after.
So always remember, if you are hungry then listen to your body and ask yourself questions regarding this onset of hunger. Also remember that fat loss is a combination of increasing activity levels and eating well so if these are in check then it’s no problem what time you eat provided there is quality over anything else.
I hope that this has cleared the air for some people as I know that I always get asked frequent questions regarding eating after a set time. So if you do feel that hunger creeping in then yeah crack on and have something to tie you over – this will also help you sleep better at night 😀