I’ve believed and fell for a LOT of stuff in the Health & Fitness World over the years, so when I get questions like ‘Dave, is it ok having a big Dinner before Bed?’ or ‘Is Eating late at night Bad?’ and the ever so famous ‘Is it ok to eat Carbs late because I heard they get stored as Fat later in the evening.’
Plus, If you still believe the ‘Don’t eat Carbs after 6pm’ myth Yet, you’ve probably been living under a rock because I won’t be diving into that in this Blog. It’s one of the biggest myth’s out there, so don’t waste your mental bandwidth giving it a second thought.
It’s like believing Trump will be President some day… oh wait…
So in a nutshell I want to show you with this Blog that eating Late is perfectly fine,
That having your BIGGEST meal at night might’ be better for you when it comes to dropping body fat and toning up.
And we’ll have a quick look at the caveats to all this too so let’s dive in.
WHERE THIS BLOG SPARKED FROM
I got this Question from one of our Ladies here at Doc Fitness recently; ‘Dave, is eating late at night bad?’
So the next day I had put a video together answering that, so if that topic still confuses you, watch that here:
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY BIGGER MEALS?
Now before you read any Further, remember the Fundamentals of Losing Bodyfat – You must be in a caloric deficit across the week to lose body fat/weight. (1,2,3)
So as a side note, bigger meals in the evening or not – Total Calories need to be still ‘within the range’ for losing body fat.
I.E: I’m not talking about eating as normal, then pigging out come the evening time 😉
So first let’s look at what I mean with ‘bigger meals’ later in the day,
Here’s a simple percentage layout of a days eating for someone who eat’s 3 Main Meals a Day with a snack and Weight Trains x3 days a week, mostly in the evening time:
What they currently Do:
*Trains before Dinner.
*Wants to start picking at everything because you’re still hungry, then the biscuits come out. Game over.
What they (could) Start Doing:
*Trains before Dinner.
Dinner: 55% (Dinner might include a chocolate bar afterwards too)
Now why am I trying to say that option two could be potentially better?
4 REASONS WHY BIGGER MEALS LATER MIGHT WORK BETTER FOR YOU
1: First up it’s the whole Stress Factor.
If you had a bad day or just a crazy busy day and you weren’t prepared ~ The last thing you want to do is add more Stress about missing your meals or only having something small!
So eating a big meal later that say may suit you perfectly fine in this case and you didn’t ‘see it’ as a bad thing.
2: Would it suit your Lifestyle Better?
Think about it, if you’re up at the crack of dawn and don’t feel like eating – but do anyways because you read somewhere that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, would it suit you to ‘put off’ breakfast for an hour or two and eat more food later in the day?
What we’ve seen with this is that people end up eating all their days food intake before 6pm & left restraining themselves from diving into the biscuit tins later on, say 8-9pm time.
You DON’T have to do it that way – so again, would eating more later in the day suit your Lifestyle better?
3: Enjoyment: You might enjoy it a whole lot more.
The knock on effect here too is that it kinda ‘trains’ you for social events or when you’re eating out with Family, instead of going off the railings off together, at least there’s some control there.
4: If you Workout/Train Later in the day.
Yes it may suit better if you workout later, knowing you’ve a nice big meal afterwards but it can also work in reverse too.
If you train earlier in the day, I would aim to get a big meal in after that for recovery & growth etc., but still plan your day in a way that you also finish off with a big meal in the evening too.
THE BEAUTY OF PSYCHOLOGY
When you’re dropping body fat, it can become daunting at times, especially the leaner you want to get.
Some days it’s fine, but then other days you just want to knock back a full tub of Ben & Jerrys…
So the whole idea here is that eating bigger meals later in the day (may) cause you to feel as if you’re not dieting at all to lose body fat and tone up = Win/Win 🙂
It works better for Social Outings and just everyday life in general from my viewpoint – but again, you have to see if this works for you.
It might be tough at first if you’re used to eating a big breakfast or a small dinner, but you will adapt over time. (4)
HOW DOES IT BRING ABOUT GREATER RESULTS?
It makes dieting easier which makes fat loss more effortless – because, whatever about you, I want losing body fat to be the easier for me rather than setting myself up to fail with things being more restrictive or harder.
I’ve personally gotten in the shape of my life by eating my biggest meals at night time and less throughout the day,
For the record I was following more of a fasting approach here (not eating my first meal basically until 1pm most days) which allowed me to eat more in the evening,
But ever since I’ve started ‘moving around’ my food intake until later in the day – E.G: Lighter Meals Earlier, Bigger Meals Later – the results came about a lot easier.
Now I did find one 12-Week study that resulted in a group of ladies that ate 70% of the Calories either in the AM or the PM spread across 2 Meals (With the other 2 meals being 15% each),
and although this showed in a slightly greater weight loss overall in the AM group, the PM group preserved (Saved) more of their Lean Mass (Muscle Tone) & lost a higher percentage of body fat which is what you want when you’re aiming to tone up!
So even though ‘there was slightly greater weight loss’ (from Muscle & Fat) – It’s more Fat being Lost & Muscle Saving we want, not just weight loss.
Plus, the study was only 12 weeks with only 10 participants so it has it’s flaws. (5)
In a 6 Month study on 78 Police Officers, Hunger was lower & more controlled throughout the day, Greater Fat Loss occurred and the participants had improved hormonal markers too like “improved insulin sensitivity, improvement in metabolic syndrome parameters, less inflammation and hormonal changes.”
All by eating the majority of their Carbohydrate Intake at Dinner (6).
NOT SO FAST
But again, does this work for you?
Will it suit you, your family life and work life?
Does eating later than usual for you cause you to ‘binge’ or does it actually work better?
You won’t know until you try it is the common sense thing to say here but it also comes back to the fact that if you’re already Resistance Training or not.
If you’re not currently training, ‘Unfavourable’ hormonal effects may be present the following morning following late night snacking or large meals pre-bed – but has also been shown to be eliminate these effects following four weeks of exercise. (7)
So again – I leave it with this – does it work for you?
The whole basis of this Blog was simple, show you that eating late at night before bed or having your Largest Meal later in the evening may suit you better and help with fat loss.
That is, if you’re currently eating larger meals in the morning followed by a small dinner, then end up ‘picking’ after that again.
From my own personal experience and opening up clients to eating more later too always seemed to suit them better and just make life easier so hopefully you’ve taken something from it 🙂
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4: Ba Hammam et. al. (2010) ‘Circadian pattern of sleep, energy expenditure, and body temperature of young healthy men during the intermittent fasting of Ramadan.’ Appetite
Volume 54, Issue 2, Pages 243-432 (April 2010): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20100529
5: Keim et. al. (1997) ‘Weight loss is greater with consumption of large morning meals and fat-free mass is preserved with large evening meals in women on a controlled weight reduction regimen.’ The Journal of NutritionJanuary 1, 1997 vol. 127 no. 1 75-82: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9040548
6: Sofer et al. (2011) ‘Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner.’ Obesity Society, Volume 19, Issue 10, October 2011, Pages 2006–2014: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21475137
7: Kinsey, W. A. & Ormsbee M, J. (2015) ‘The Health Impact of Nighttime Eating: Old and New Perspectives.’ Nutrients. 2015 Apr; 7(4): 2648–2662: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425165/