Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Does Eating at Night Cause Weight Gain?

I’ve been asked this many times by my clients, so it’s not surprising that people believe that the time of day calories are consumed affects weight gain and loss. I remember my grandmother telling me that the diet advice she was given was to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Today, you’ll find that experts are divided on this debate about eating at night. Generally speaking, it is the quantity of calories eaten, not the time of day, which has the greatest impact on weight. The leading weight loss company in the world, Weight Watchers, holds this point of view, as well.

What’s more important than avoiding eating after dinner is distributing your calories throughout the day to keep the metabolism up. Ideally, you want to strive to eat every three to five hours. Some people practice grazing, a lifestyle where they eat tiny amounts all day long. They do the same at mealtime, seeming to just nibble at their food. While this is a very effective weight control technique for some people, think twice before adopting it if it’s not your natural style. It can be very easy to overeat and hard to break the habit of eating regular meals.

I’ve been a snacker my whole life. I lost weight eating six times a day, but I carefully monitored everything I ate. The meals were on the light side, and my snacks were 100 - 150 calories each. Whatever your approach, it’s important to keep the calories consumed at night down, so your body can get the rest it needs without having to process a heavy meal.

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