At what time you eat is not nearly as important as how many calories you consume or the types of foods you choose to fuel your body with. Our bodies do not store more fat at nighttime, nor at any specific part or time of the day. Our metabolisms do not decrease in the evening hours. Weight gain along with weight loss is directly affected by what we eat, how much we eat and how many calories we burn.

Calories consumed versus calories burned is a wise statement. But with so much “free advice” out there how are we to know what is true and what is false. For example – this myth, your body only burns calories while you are active during the day, once you become a couch potato at night, your food intake needs to stop, or you will gain weight.

Well, it’s one thing to make a bold statement and it’s something entirely different to prove it. We came across an astounding study from Israeli researchers who decided to test the myth that eating at night led to more weight gain. What they found was revolutionary for anyone who believes in the myth that eating at night will cause you put on the pounds.

In this 6-month study, the research scientists related individuals who ate their heftiest meal in the morning at breakfast compared to those who dined on their most substantial feast at supper after 8:00 pm.

The results were exceptional: the afterhours consumer lost more body fat than the individuals who chowed on a large morning breakfast meal. The results in fact weren’t insignificant either; they late-night eaters lost an average of 10.5% more body fat.

This was only the beginning of these mind-boggling developments turning diet superstitions upside down.

When the up roar calmed, the developments and research from multiple studies, offered facts that late night food consumption is not our weight loss adversary. Some studies established that individuals who ate 70 percent of their daily calories after 7 p.m. retained a higher level of muscle mass and decreased a greater amount of body fat.

So how did this myth come about and circulate so fast? It’s a classic theory of how one’s opinion on a specific subject, without scientific proof, can escalate quickly spreading false information across multiple nutritional platforms.

THE METABOLISM FABLE

Before inquiring on why late-night chow sessions don’t make us loosen our belt loops, it’s crucial to get a grasp on how our bodies process calories.

Every time we eat, we burn calories. This action is termed the “thermic effect of food” or better known as TEF. When we eat, our digestive system works hard to process that food and convert it into energy. This energy source is what supports us in everything that we do, from walking and talking, thinking, to breathing, exercising to build muscle or losing fat, and even sleeping.

Of all the foods we consume, protein is the most metabolically jarring, meaning our bodies needs more energy to decompound, absorb and put that protein into use than both carbohydrates or fat. More than 30 percent of the calories we consume from protein are burned and used as fuel during the digestion process. So, that means if we consume 100 calories from protein, only 70 calories may truly be left over in our bodies.

This is why consuming protein either in meat form or taking whey or plant protein powders is so important in any diet; the more protein we take in, the more calories we can burn. Carbohydrates are less metabolically effective , only around six to eight percent and fats are the least functioning coming in at about 4 percent; even though fats are the highest in calories and great for our testosterone levels.

Since we know that eating causes us to burn calories, some educationalists, assume that eating immediately in the morning would lead to a stronger working metabolism leading to burning more calories but having to ingest more meals in a single day.

The truth is that our bodies aren’t functioning because of the amount of meals we eat. Some days we eat more, some days we eat less, all depends on our activity levels of each day. However, our body and metabolism do function better on the quality and type of foods we consume, not really on what times we eat.

The thermic effect of food is directly proportional to caloric intake and the foods you eat, so if we eat three meals in a day and it hits the macros needed for you, there is no difference if those calories are broken down into 6 meals throughout the day.

The facts: timing on consuming your meals has no effect on weight gain.

SHOULD YOU EAT AT NIGHT?

Emotions such as stress or anxiety or something as simple as boredom are factors that lead many people to late night eating or binging. These are reasons why many feel eating at night leads to weight gain. These “extra” meals are usually consumed causing us to be over our daily macro intake leading us to put on those few extra pounds.

The first train of thought, calories matter. We only have a specific amount each day to stay neutral, it’s up to you on how you consume them. Therefore, self-control and awareness are extremely important. If you’re a late-night snacker that’s fine, you just need to eat less earlier within the day.

Consuming carbohydrates make many of us sleepy and the thought process there is to eat these before bed to help us sleep better. However, keep in mind when eating large portions of carbohydrates, many of us also feel over stuffed and bloated, this may cause a disturbance in our sleep activity. Be mindful of how large your portions are and if you are noticing a sleep disturbance maybe reduce the amount of carbohydrates at night time.

Wake Forest University Researchers did a study and discovered how the lack of sleep can increase hunger and weight gain. Individuals who slept five hours or less daily increased their abdominal fat by nearly two and half times more than people who slept six – plus hours

Individuals lacking sleep tend to eat more because they’re tired, they simply use less energy. The lack of sleep can shoot down weight loss by slowing your metabolism and dropping energy levels, boosting your hunger levels and appetite, and causing the amount of calories you burn to  plummet.

No matter how many meals you eat in a day, knowing that you have options, that eating late night meals don’t cause weight gain, exceeding calories do. Choose the best options for your individual lifestyle to help keep you on track with your daily caloric intake.