Does midnight snacking = weight gain?

Late- night eating has been studied and debated

The correlation between late - night eating and weight gain has b een st ud ie d and de bat ed for quite a whi le.

Although common sense might su g ge st t he re is a conn ect ion , thereis no statis tic alproof to confir m the claim.

Many of the studies involving late -nig ht eating have been conducted on lab mice or on people who are dee med “late sleepe rs,” not ne cess ar ily on peopl e who routinely eat the biggest or most caloric meals late in the day.

Those who are dieting are routinely told to cut of f meals after 7 or 8 p. m. to improve metabolic rates and red uc e we ig ht ga i n. Althou ghitwou ldseem tobe good adv ice, there is no definit ive scie ntif ic re search that equ ates eating at night to weight gain.

The spec ulat ion beh ind th e eating and weight gain connection has to do w ith met ab olism and human evolution.

Hu man s ev olved from situa - tions where they ate and foraged between sunrise and sunset.

There were no vide o games to play at nig ht, no TV shows, and certainly no refrigerators to raid for late- night snack s.

The body simply adapted to getting the bulk of its ca lor ic intake in between daylig ht hours.

Furthermore , pe opl e tende d to be their mos t ac t ive dur ing the day, when calories con sumed could be burned off through exercise or da ily ac tivity.

At nig ht people tended to simply be ly ing around relaxing or sle eping. The calories can’t be burned off.

Ot he rs de ba te that this is a myth , t hat calor ies c on su me d are simply calories. They do not weigh moreifthey areeat en at ni ght or during th e da y. The bo dy ’s metab olis m neve r st ops working, organs are functioning and energy is being use d even as one sle eps.

Opponents to the “late nig ht eating equals weight gain” theor y state that it’s not what is eaten at a spec ific time that matters, but it ’s how many calories are con sumed over a week or month. As anyone who has tried to diet knows, one day of diet ary chang es will do lit tle, if any thing, to in fluence a person’s weight. Weight lo ss is a process instead of a quick fix.

Limit ing calor ic intake — no mat ter what time it occurs — will help a person lose weight.

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2011-07-21 digital edition

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