Forget the boogeyman—eating directly before bedtime can cause nightmares too, and these feature expanding waistlines. Studies have suggested a range of connections between late-night eating and weight gain, but does consuming calories after sunset really lead to a bigger gut?
The Midnight Munchies—Why It Matters
Eating before bed has long been touted as a cardinal sin of weight loss, leading some weight-conscious individuals to forgo any food after 8 p.m. One study with more than 400 participants found that nocturnal snacking was associated with higher body mass index (aka BMI). 1 Several others determined that eating food when a body should be at rest can be detrimental. One study found that mice—our smaller, furrier, nocturnal friends—gained significantly more weight when fed during the day, when they’d normally be asleep. The results were a loose proxy for what can happen when humans eat a bunch of calories at night (when we’d normally be asleep). 2 When the mice followed a time-controlled diet (not just eating whenever)—the risk of metabolic diseases decreased. 3
We’re not mice, but sometimes we don’t act much differently: “It’s important to realize that nighttime eaters tend to skip breakfast, which ends up in a vicious cycle where the person is hungrier and more li…