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The Deceptive Science of Midnight Feasting

Credit: domoyega / Getty Images

Consider wisely before indulging in late-night snacking.

Pay attention all individuals who stay awake past 10 in the evening and consume at least a bowl of cereal before retiring for the night. It’s likely that you’ve heard this advice before, whether it came from your parents, partner, roommate, etc., that eating before bedtime can result in weight gain. The idea of going to bed with a full stomach doesn’t seem like an ideal method to shed a few pounds, and most of us might not possess enough knowledge about our bodies to argue against this notion. Interestingly, it appears that no one truly does.

In previous studies conducted on mice, researchers compared mice that were fed during their regular meal times with those fed outside their typical circadian rhythm. Surprisingly, the mice that were fed during unconventional hours gained significantly more weight compared to those who ate during their usual waking hours, even when the portions of food provided were identical. However, studies on humans did not yield the same findings.

Throughout the research, it was also observed that we have a tendency to consume more food late at night. In fact, the study uncovered that individuals who ate during the later hours ingested approximately 500 extra calories per day than those who only consumed during daylight hours. Eventually, the nocturnal eaters ended up gaining around 10 additional pounds in comparison to their initial weight. Perhaps this is why the practice of eating before bedtime became associated with weight gain.

Ultimately, it appears that the content of our diet, rather than the timing of our meals, plays a crucial role in determining whether we gain, lose, or maintain our weight. Despite the uncertainty surrounding whether this is entirely true or if our research was flawed from the beginning, it’s advisable to monitor what we eat, when we eat, and how we eat (for those who may have momentarily forgotten the route food should take).

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