Are you ready for another Fitness Fact Or Fiction?
Okay here’s today’s question – should you stop eating after 8pm, as many diets advise, or will late night snacks ruin your waistline? Is this a fitness myth – or based on actual fact?
To be honest I think it depends on a range of factors, including what you’re eating and how much. Basically I believe it could go either way depending on your personal goals and whether you’re aiming for weight loss, maintenance or muscle gain. I know when I was building muscle I used to wake up at 3am to slam down a protein shake. However that fit within my goal of adding muscle mass and in my case, I suffered no ill effects. Conversely if you’re looking to shed a few pounds, you may want to lay off the late night snacks.
Recently there’s been a lot of evidence suggesting that the idea of ‘eating every three hours to boost your metabolism’ may not be such a good idea. Ditto the idea of consuming protein at every meal. For years bodybuilders have followed these ‘rules’ devoutly, thinking they’d lose muscle mass if they veered off the plan or missed a meal. But now a new strategy called ‘IF’, or Intermittent Fasting, has become quite popular, suggesting that going anywhere from 16–24 hours without food, 1-2 days per week can create hormonal responses that help promote fat loss.
So with this in mind, when you think about not eating after 8pm, you’re essentially Intermittently Fasting overnight until the next morning without really knowing it (basically you’re going 10-12 hours without food, depending on your wake up time). So there may be some merit in cutting your food intake after a specific time, because of the metabolic changes that might occur. On the other hand, your body is always running and doesn’t shut down, so eating regularly may be the best way to keep supplying nutrients to your system.
Personally I don’t believe that eating every three hours and having a great protein and veggie meal at 9 pm is a bad idea. After all, it’s worked for decades for many people, and you can’t argue with success – it’s certainly worked well for me. Although most supporters of not eating late in the day or “IF” do say that it’s just a different way to get results, not necessarily a better way.
However I know many people are habitual and social eaters, so setting a deadline for your last meal may stop people from taking in excess calories late at night, when honestly most of us are in couch potato mode. And remember, eating healthy foods like proteins, healthy fats and veggies at night is very different than having a pasta meal, cookies, or a burger and fries.
In conclusion I think this one’s neither Fact Or Fiction! For some people it may work well to regulate calories and stop late night bingeing. On the other hand, I don’t see anything wrong with a protein shake before bed, or any meal that’s low in calories and simple sugars. I happen to enjoy food and if I’m out at midnight, I’ll eat a chicken breast salad or something else healthy. And I don’t see why you can’t do the same…
But what do you think? Have you tried not eating after 8pm and did it work for you? Do you eat late at night and think it’s ruining your diet? Leave a comment and tell your story.