Eating Before Bed: the Good and Bad

We all do it and immediately feel bad, so how bad exactly is eating before bed? This question is tricky because it’s not exactly a yes or no answer, it’s much more complicated, so let’s check it out.   We found scientific data that shows that eating before bed can make you gain weight and we found evidence for the opposite as well. Sounds tricky.


Is it bad?

Obviously you would think that eating right before bed would just pack on the pounds, since food is fuel and when sleeping you burn less fuel. Its simple weight loss math, if you burn more calories than you take in you will lose weight. The opposite is obviously true as well. Slow down there speedy, your body actually burns quite a few calories at night, so maybe your math is a bit off.

Sleeping can burn a few hundred calories from digestion to regulating body temperature. This may be true but it’s also true that you don’t burn nearly as many as when you are awake.


Benefits to eating before bed

Not all aspects of eating before bedtime are bad; in fact here are two benefits. Have you recently tried to fall asleep on an empty stomach? It’s not easy and can lead to tossing and turning. Thinking about an empty stomach often keeps you awake for up to 15-20 minutes.   That may seem small but over a week it’s almost 2 hours you missed out on.

If you are working out, nighttime is when your body recovers from those strenuous exercises. Eating protein helps your muscles recover and rebuild so eating some before bed can be smart. Of course if you aren’t working out then it’s just extra calories that you most likely don’t need.


Best time to eat dinner

We should be on a schedule or daily routine that is pretty regular. This schedule will help your body function at higher levels. You should eat at roughly the same times and sleep similarly. It’s a good rule of thumb to try and eat no later than 3 hours before you go to bed. That’s three hours of digestion time and time for you to be somewhat active.


Tips to stop eating before bed

A craving happens and urges pop up so how can we stop ourselves from eating late?

How much TV you watch comes into play here as well as what kind of TV you watch. A study by Cornell University showed that people who watch action packed TV were more likely to mindlessly eat in front of the TV than someone who watches calmer TV. That is interesting because the more action, the more you are distracted and don’t pay attention to how you snack. So maybe chose calmer TV before bed and your cravings will go away.

Drink water when you want a snack and your stomach will fill up quickly. I tend to drink a few glasses of water before bed because it helps me wake up in the morning; it’s an old Native American trick. Native people would drink lots of water before bed when they wanted to wake up early. Genius, nature’s alarm clock.


Hopefully you can stop the late night snacking unless you recently worked out, then get that lean protein in before bed.  I guess it all comes down to how active you when it comes to eating before bed. The more active, the more you can snack before bed. So if you like those late-night snacks, maybe you should be doing some early morning running.