Is It Really So Bad to Eat Before Bedtime?

Many people think it’s a bad idea to eat before bed.

This often comes from the belief that eating before you go to sleep leads to weight gain. However, some claim that a bedtime snack can actually support a weight loss diet.

So what should you believe? The truth is, the answer isn’t the same for everyone. It depends a lot on the individual.

Eating Before Bed Is Controversial

Whether you should eat before bed — defined as between dinner and bedtime — has become a hot topic in nutrition.

Conventional wisdom says that eating before bed could cause weight gain because your metabolism usually slows down when you fall asleep. This could increase the likelihood that the calories will be stored as fat.

Alternatively, some health experts say that eating before bed is perfectly fine and may improve sleep or weight loss.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that many people are unsure of what the best option is.

Part of the problem is that there’s evidence to support both sides of the argument.

Although many people believe that a slower metabolism during sleep leads to weight gain, your nighttime basal metabolic rate is almost as high as during the day. Your body still needs plenty of energy while you sleep

There’s also limited evidence supporting the idea that calories count more before bedtime than they do at any other time of the day

Even though there seems to be no physiological reason, several studies have linked eating before bed with weight gain

It May Lead to Unhealthy Habits

The current evidence shows no definitive physiological reason why eating before bed should cause weight gain. However, several studies show that people who eat before bed are more likely to gain weight.

The reason for this is much simpler than you might expect. It turns out that people who eat before bed are more likely to gain weight simply because a bedtime snack is an extra meal and, therefore, extra calories.

Not only that, but the evening is the time of day when some tend to feel the hungriest.

Research has also found that those who experience stress tend to see a rise in ghrelin — the hunger hormone — in the evening. This makes it even more likely that a bedtime snack will end up pushing your calorie intake over your daily calorie needs

There are those who like to snack at night while watching TV or working on their laptops, and it’s no surprise that these habits might lead to weight gain.

Plus, some people become extremely hungry before bed because they didn’t eat enough during the day.

This extreme hunger can cause a cycle of eating too much before bed, then being too full to eat much the next morning, and again becoming overly hungry before bed the next evening.

This cycle, which can easily lead to overeating and weight gain, highlights why many individuals should eat balanced meals during the day.

It would seem that the problem with eating at night isn’t explicitly linked to your metabolism switching to storing calories as fat at night. Instead, weight gain can be caused by bedtime snacking, which increases your caloric intake.

It’s Not Good If You Have Acid Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common condition that affects 18.1 to 27.8 percent of people in the United States. It happens when gastric contents such as stomach acid splash back into your throat.

Symptoms include:

  • heartburn
  • difficulty swallowing
  • a lump in the throat
  • dental erosions
  • chronic cough
  • laryngitis

If you have any of these symptoms, you may want to avoid eating before bed because lying down makes it much easier to regurgitate.

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