Is It Okay to Eat Late at Night?

By Chris Sparling

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With the holiday season in full swing, a reference to the classic ’80s film “Gremlins” seems most apropos. If you’ll recall, owning a gremlin (well, in Gizmo form, that is) required following some very specific rules, chief among them being that you cannot, under any circumstances, feed them after midnight. OK, no problem. They don’t get to eat after midnight. No big deal. But, what about us humans? Why is it that we’ve been told, for so many years, that we shouldn’t eat late at night, either? Will we turn into gremlins if we do?Frankly, when you consider how often and how readily this advice was dispensed, it’s easy to assume that such drastic changes would occur in our bodies. Granted, I don’t think anyone ever expected that their skin would become green and scaly, or that they’d grow a white Mohawk, but a fear of an enlarged belly and an inflated rear end seems rather warranted.

It’s okay to eat at night?
Thankfully, logic has prevailed, and most experts these days have debunked this food myth. It’s perfectly fine to eat late at night, provided you’re eating healthy foods. You see, this is where many people go wrong; noshing mindlessly on high-sugar, high-fat foods before heading off to bed. Follow this destructive pattern enough nights in a row and, before you know it, a change in your body really will take place.

“The time of day a person eats is not as important for overall weight gain as the amount of calories eaten during the day,” agrees Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo Ph.D., R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, speaking in a recent CNN.com article. Like many other common myths, particularly those told around the holiday season, this anti-nighttime-eating one does not have merit.

in fact, some people actually stress the importance of eating before bed. Specifically, many active weightlifters consume foods containing casein protein (cottage cheese is very high in this slower-digesting form of protein) before hitting the sack. This way, their metabolism continues to work, even while they are at rest.

For an interesting look at some other common myths about holiday health concerns, click here to read the full CNN.com article.

Happy Holidays, everyone. And, just for the sake of safety, even though you’re clear to eat late at night, there’s still a great deal of danger in affording such liberty to Gizmo.

22 Comments

  1. curlyfries12000

    Can i eat pasta at 12:00pm?

    Reply
    • Ted

      It depends on how much you ate earlier in the day.

      Reply
  2. thea

    hi im 14 a im really hungry at 1-2:00 in the morning and i use to eat pizza but now i eat salad is it ok to eat a big salad at night

    Reply
    • Ted

      I’m sorry but you should be sleeping at 1 or 2 am. You are still growing and sleep is vital to proper brain development.

      Reply
  3. Stacey

    Can I eat eggs late at night I’m starving

    Reply
  4. JenCP

    I wonder what Europeans are having for dinner!

    Reply
  5. JenCP

    PS I sometimes HAVE to stay up late, and cannot go to sleep yet just b/c I feel hungry.

    Reply
  6. JenCP

    I agree about being able to go straight to sleep if only a ‘little’ hungry, but once I’m hungry-hungry, not only will I not be able to get to sleep, but also I will begin to get sick on my stomach.
    I know celery, but what other foods are okay for late-night snacking?

    Reply
  7. Shawn Lebrun

    Wrong. Think about it. 8 hours before the next meal, what do you think the body will do? Eating right before bed, so long as the meal is healthy (i.e. sugar free, salt free, fat free) will in fact keep the the body’s metabolism running high.

    Reply
  8. kit

    I’m so glad this is true, I always get hungry around 10-11pm and just HAVE to eat 150-200 calories! I prefer to eat a lot of small meals and snacks so I don’t get really hungry or really full, so it’s hard for me to not eat at night.

    Reply
  9. SueK24

    A daily bedtime snack is a very important part of the Zone Diet. Hormonal control is at the heart of the Zone. An appropriate bedtime snack helps to maintain a healthy insulin level to prevent hypoglycemia as you sleep, and it does not interfere with the loss of excess stored body fat.

    Reply
  10. Laurie Beebe

    So glad to see this finally in print for the public to see 🙂
    I always work an evening snack into my clients’ meal plan. It’s not when you eat, it’s what you eat!

    Reply
  11. Miss. StrA!ght 3dg3 <3

    My opinion is that its ok to snack at night. Just dont over do it by eating alot. And from my own personal experiance is that i do get da munchys at nite. i used to eat junk, but now im making better choices. I eat a yogurt, or some fruit like grapes. The whole dont eat after 8 p.m. Is B.S.! Its ok to eat after after 8 pm. But dont go to bed immediately afterward. You should wait at least an hour to an hour and a half. Thats how i do it! And i still managed to lose 20 lbs. 😀

    Reply
  12. Miroslav Nikoov

    Of course it is important when you eat. If you eat something sweet in the morning when the “glucose window” is open you have good chance to absorb it.

    But its not the same when you eat sweet food in the evening.

    Even when you ea healthy food in the evening, the chance to store it as fats is much bigger then morning.

    Reply
  13. Never teh Bride

    I try to do that, but if I’m really hungry, I can’t sleep. A little peckish and I’ll nod off, but if I’m truly hungry I won’t fall asleep.

    Reply
  14. Cari from ditch diets

    I dunno about this one…. I agree with Spectra that many European countries eat very late and it doesn’t seem to affect them, but I know that if I eat late at night I don’t sleep as well, and I wake up ravenous. I also very seldom actually get hungry at night because I believe in eating when I’m hungry and the last time I seem to get hungry is at about 6.30-7.00pm. I’m also wondering then about all the research on Night Eating Disorder (admittedly not in the DSM-IV) which researchers seem to indicate also has a hormonal aspect to it.

    Reply
  15. Spectra

    I definitely follow the “what you eat, not when you eat” mindset. I have a pretty crazy schedule sometimes and there are times when I don’t eat dinner until 9 or 10 at night. Many Europeans eat very late dinners…8 pm or later and they seem to have fewer problems with obesity. I definitely don’t think it’s a good idea to munch on chips and stuff like that as a bedtime snack, but I don’t think anyone’s ever gotten fat by snacking on celery and carrots, even if they do eat them late at night.

    Reply
  16. Matthew

    okay everyone is talking about eating at night its not bad to eat at night but a snack here and there its fine if you snack an hour before you go to bed. but if everyone is trying to lose weight i found out the best way. i had problems with my weight but the best thing is you can eat fast food but i call it the half cal diet. you start off in the morning with a walk or run or even jog because when you wake up from a good sleep you body is hungry and when you dont eat and go out for a run you will burn 3x the amount of calories. when you come home you wont be as hungry. but i mainly like to go out and eat but when i got to burger king wendys or even mcdonalds i will drink half a bottle of water and get grilled chicken with french fries the thing is you wont really finish the food because the running calms the hunger down as well as the water. at night you snack but dont do it till you get full drink 2 cups of water but you do this for 6 of the days a week and on the 7th day you can be a kid and pig out so you can calm those cravings. it worked for me and i stuck to it for 2 months and dropped 27 pounds i say give it a try and let me know how it works its hard in when you start off but you get use to it in the first week but it takes dedication. and you will see the weight drop right off .

    Reply
  17. Cindy

    I agree with Ben. When I find myself hungry late at night, I usually choose to just go to bed. Being a little hungry isn’t going to hurt me, and chances are good it’s not really hunger at all, but boredom.

    Reply
  18. Ben

    Once again, there’s no magic. No magic time of day this time.

    The best advice is to just go to sleep. Don’t eat junk food. Maybe don’t even eat healthy food. Just go to sleep and eat a good breakfast when you wake up.

    Reply
  19. The Fit Dad

    The only reason I ever tell my clients not to eat at night is because of the type of foods they normally eat at night.

    They’re eating to relieve stress or because they’re bored so they’ll reach for a bag of chips, cookies or ice cream.

    But you’re exactly right when saying that “eating at night will make you gain fat” is a myth.

    If I’m hungry at night…I eat, and that’s what I tell my clients. I just make sure it’s something healthy, but that won’t wake the body up.

    Reply