It’s a wonderful feeling when you can come home from work with plenty of time to prepare delicious meals for yourself, your family, or those closest to you.
Ensuring that you and your loved ones are full of good food in the morning while relaxing on a few episodes of your favorite show can make you feel happy.
However, the scenario may represent ideal circumstances. The truth is, life doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes you work late, or your night schedule keeps you busy, so you can’t prepare dinner early.
If you’re used to eating fairly late dinners on a regular basis, you may be wondering how or if this routine can affect your health.
It is said that eating out at night can be bad for you. However, not a few people still eat food after 7 pm. So, is it healthy and good for health?
Launching the Eat This, Not That page on Sunday (10/16/2022), to understand what effect eating after 7 pm has on the body, the answer is reaping the pros and cons. Well, for those of you who are curious, see the explanation below.
1. Gain Belly Fat
If a busy day makes you snack or eat a heavy meal late at night, some dietitians warn that it can lead to more weight gain around your belly area.
“To reduce belly fat, you may want to avoid snacking at night,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD consultant for Balance One Supplements.
“It’s more than just not going to the kitchen or the fridge in the evening after dinner. I’ve found some clients who eat only when the sun is out and have allowed them to lose weight, especially the kind that hangs around the stomach,” she says.
You may be wondering why eating only during the day can help lose belly fat. This is due to two main components.
“One, eating during the day cuts your eating window from about 15 hours to just 12 hours,” he says. “Also, the foods you typically eat after dark when you’re snacking are more calorie-dense and typically loaded with sugar or refined carbohydrates, which tend to cause belly fat in particular.”
2. Can Restore Glycogen in Muscles
While there are some other negative side effects, eating late can also have some benefits, especially if you want to exercise towards the end of the day.
According to Rachel Fine, RDN, intuitive eating counselor, and founder of To the Pointe Nutrition, eating at night can greatly benefit your muscles, enabling their propensity for repair and endurance during intense exercise.
“Especially for those who exercise at night and for athletes, glycogen is depleted more quickly. So restoring your muscle glycogen levels with food will help support energy for the next morning,” says Fine.
“Eating late at night can help stimulate muscle protein synthesis as well, which supports muscle rebuilding and recovery.”
3. Acid Reflux Feels Worse
Best also notes that eating late or right before bed has the potential to make GERD symptoms feel worse or more intense.
“Stomach acid can appear worse at night because you’ve eaten all day, and your intestines start to slow down in digestion at night, and eating late at night can make it worse, regardless of the quality or quantity of food you eat,” she says.
It also has to do with the fact that you tend to be sedentary at night. “You’re more likely to be sedentary or lie on your back, which can cause acid in your intestines to back up into your esophagus,” Best explains.
4. Waking Up in the Middle of the Night
It’s frustrating when you’re sleeping on a good night, but wake up in the middle of your sleep. Of course, this can also disrupt the Rapid eye movement (REM) cycle or sleep phase. Eating late at night may play a role in this disorder.
“The data show that people who eat close to bedtime can be associated with waking up at night, especially if it’s within three hours of going to bed,” Manaker said.
With that in mind, eating before 7 p.m. can help as it gives your body enough time to relax and digest what you’ve consumed before bed.
5. Have Better Blood Glucose Control
According to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, and author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility, eating a healthy snack at night can help people with certain health complications.
“For people with type 1 diabetes or glycogen storage problems, eating a bedtime snack can help people have better blood glucose control,” says Manager.