A cheeky little late-night snack is a regular part of many of our evening rituals. Let's face it, nothing beats a delicious, warm cookie before bedtime. Is it, however, harmful to eat before sleeping? 🧐 Is it going to help you lose weight or make you gain weight? What about the effect it has on your sleep? We're about to answer all your questions ☝🏻
You could be hungry before bed for a variety of reasons. Perhaps dinner just wasn't up to par, or maybe eating is a source of solace during times of stress or anxiety.
Regardless of how you got here, it's critical to understand whether or not you should eat before going to bed 🤷🏼.
Should you eat before bed? 🤔
Most people believe that going to bed immediately after eating is harmful ☢️. This makes logical sense to us. If we have anything in our stomachs, our bodies will have to digest it, making falling asleep hard. Not to mention the potential weight gain associated with late-night munching.
Well, it turns out, this is pretty accurate.
You will often pay the price if you eat late at night and go against your body's circadian cycle ⏱️.
It's all about how your body modifies its sensitivity to insulin 📍. By design, your body is more sensitive in the morning ☀️. This is to assist us in fueling our body, getting us moving, and getting us through the day.
Our insulin resistance, on the other hand, rises at night 🌙. As a result, those extra calories from that late-night snack or meal are stored as fat instead of being burned during the day 👀
Another reason eating late is harmful is that we tend to make less healthy food choices 🍟🍔🍕 when we're hungry. We eat unhealthy foods (chips, cookies, ice cream) at night as part of our nightly wind-down routine, or just because it's something quick and easy to prepare. It is, however, thoughtless eating.
While eating food before bed can lead to weight gain, there are also compelling reasons to avoid eating shortly before sleeping.
Cons to eating before bed
Poor sleep ❌ 💤
Foods you consume can interrupt your sleep patterns, depending on what you eat and when you eat it. Caffeinated foods, such as chocolate 🍫 and coffee ☕, may seem like a good choice before bed, but caffeine enhances your energy and can lead you to wake up several times during the night.
Slower metabolism 📉 🐌
Eating too close to bedtime can slow down the body's metabolism. The body slows down at night to prepare for sleep, but eating foods heavy in carbohydrates, in particular, can obstruct digestion and lead to weight gain ⬆️.
Meal size 🍽️
People are generally more hungry at night, resulting in larger meals. Try training yourself to eat larger meals during the day instead of dining late at night and giving less time for digestion. "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and supper like a pauper" 👈🏻 is sound advice.
Unhealthy choices 🍬🍦🧁
One of the most serious issues with late-night eating is that we're more likely to give in to cravings for high-carb, sugary junk food like chips, pizza, cookies, and ice cream 👎🏻. We are more inclined to binge or mindlessly eat more food when we eat these types of foods, especially in front of the television 📺.
Acid reflux, indigestion, and heartburn 🔥
Acid reflux, indigestion, and heartburn are also risks of eating large meals soon before bedtime. Allowing the body to digest before going to bed can help to lessen the likelihood of acquiring these issues.
The body sits at a horizontal angle when you climb into bed, allowing stomach acid to easily enter the esophagus and cause acid reflux.
Likewise, after eating a large meal, you may experience stomach cramps and discomfort, known as indigestion 🥴.
Overeating and eating spicy meals 🌶️ can create heartburn 🔥, which is a burning sensation in the chest. When you lie down, your heartburn can get worse.
How long before bed should you stop eating? ⏰
Nutritionists recommend waiting 3️⃣ hours between your last meal and bedtime as a general rule of thumb 📍.
This allows for some digestion and allows the contents of your stomach to pass through to your small intestine.
But we also know that life happens. You shouldn't skip supper ❌ if you won't have three hours between eating and bedtime. The three-hour rule is merely a suggestion to follow when you have the time (much like that 30-minute rule at the pool).
Lastly, eating before going to bed might be unhealthy and hazardous to your health. You can consume nutritious snacks 🫒, but you should not eat a major meal for at least 2 to 3 hours before going to bed.
Finally, you must make sure that your caloric expenditure is greater than your caloric intake. This way, late-night snacking will not cause you to gain weight. You'll feel a lot better in the morning as well.