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Late night eating and weight gain

BY Added Health Editorial Team | 13 December 2022
This is a shortened version of an Added Health article.

How often have many of us reached for a snack during the evening? We’ve already eaten dinner but a few hours later we find ourselves sitting in front of the TV or laptop craving a bite to eat – a packet of crisps, a couple of biscuits, that tempting tube of Pringles in the cupboard…any one of them seem like a great idea at the time.

Unfortunately, recent research tells us that eating later can negatively affect our physiological state and how our bodies deal with fat. This leads to a higher body weight and an increased risk of obesity. Eating most of our calories earlier in the day naturally lowers this risk – we are less likely to feel hungry and are will actually burn more calories the following day.

Take home message from Added Health

Eating late in the evening can be very tempting, especially if we’ve had a long and stressful day. If you’re really hungry, bananas are an excellent pre-bedtime snack and are loaded with fibre, vitamin B6 and the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan converts into the hormone melatonin which helps the body prepare for sleep.

References

Vujović, N., Piron, M.J., Qian, J., Chellappa, S.L., Nedeltcheva, A., Barr, D., Heng, S.W., Kerlin, K., Srivastav, S., Wang, W. and Shoji, B., 2022. Late isocaloric eating increases hunger, decreases energy expenditure, and modifies metabolic pathways in adults with overweight and obesity. Cell Metabolism34(10), pp.1486-1498. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2022.09.007

Feng, X., Wang, M., Zhao, Y., Han, P. and Dai, Y., 2014. Melatonin from different fruit sources, functional roles, and analytical methods. Trends in Food Science & Technology37(1), pp.21-31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2014.02.001