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4 Benefits of Eating Late at Night

Sitting down with friends and family for a nightly meal. There are several benefits to eating at night.

For years you have probably heard that it's bad to eat before bed. And that may be true if you're on a fasting diet. But eating at night isn't a weight gain trigger, so you're OK if you're snacking on a pomegranate or eating dates at night. In fact, there are a lot of surprising benefits to a nighttime snack.

1. Improves Overnight Muscle Synthesis

One of the common reasons you've heard that you shouldn't eat before bed is that it will cause you to gain weight. And sure, binging on snacks in bed isn't great for your waistline. But it turns out that nighttime meals can actually help you improve your body's appearance.

A study in Nutrients in January 2015 found that a bedtime snack helped men synthesize muscle in their sleep. The researchers of the study recommended limiting the meal to 150 calories for the best effects. A study published in December 2017 in the Journal of Nutrition suggests 40 grams of protein for your nightly meals. That's a little more than 150 calories, but sticking to proteins is still a good idea.

However you fill your 150 calories, the good news is you're not gaining weight from it. And if you are, it's muscle weight. Now that's the kind of weight you want to gain, right? The type of weight that makes your body look toned and fit, not soft.

2. Improves Your Morning Metabolism

If you're concerned about gaining weight, then you don't want to neglect your metabolism. It's the process that your body uses to convert food into energy. When it's not functioning at its fullest, your body will store more fat. So if you want to lose weight, you want to ensure that your metabolism is functioning at its best.

Recent studies show eating before has a bed positive impact on the metabolism in the morning. Both healthy men and women who were obese, according to the Nutrients study, had improved metabolisms from bedtime meals. The study showed that eating a small snack before bed causes the metabolism to kick into gear by morning. So when you eat breakfast, your body will have an easier time turning your food to energy.

A British Journal of Nutrition January 2014 study had similar results. The participants — active men — showed increased metabolic activity in the morning. This study noted improved metabolic impacts of eating different proteins and carbs, which means that you don't have to limit your snack to a protein bar to get this benefit.

3. Improves Your Morning Appetite

It might sound counterintuitive, but eating before bed can make you less hungry for breakfast in the morning. If your goal is to lose weight, then reducing your appetite is a good start. So while a pre-bed snack sounds like more food, it may not be as long as you listen to your reduced appetite come breakfast.

The Nutrients study examined the capacity for late night meals to reduce morning hunger. The researchers focused on populations of men who were healthy and athletic and women who were obese. There was evidence of glycemic blowbacks in the females studied, but regular workouts combated this effect. Still, additional studies need to be done on other populations, such as healthy women, before claims can be made.

A study in the August 14 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition also focused on women who were obese. They observed the same side effects as the Nutrients study. The article noted the reduction of morning appetite following consumption of a bedtime snack. Research continues to provide evidence that eating at night may reduce your morning appetite.

4. Some Foods Help You Sleep

One of the benefits of eating before bed that isn't all about weight is its ability to help you sleep. You may not realize this, but some foods contain nutrients that improve sleep function. So if you eat a snack packed with melatonin, for example, you'll likely have an easier time falling asleep. In some cases, it'll even help you stay asleep.

What's your opinion on eating very late at night? Use the comment box section below:

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Journal of Nutrition

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