We all know that unhealthy eating can be harmful to your health. But what are the health effects of eating late at night?
Also, is there a wrong time to eat too?
Several studies show that better meal timing can have positive effects on our health.
If you succumb to late-night hunger pangs, it could lead to uncontrolled obesity. And also in some cases, it can reduce cognitive performance (more on that in a moment).
Eating right with a balanced diet and at the right time helps improve the body’s metabolism.
If you eat at night, it’s time to rethink your decision.
In this article, we’ll discuss some reasons why frequently eating late at night may not be a good idea. If you can, avoid it, no matter how bad is your craving.
1. Increased risk of obesity
The main risk of eating late at night is that it often leads to consuming more calories.
A study by researchers at Northwestern University found that eating closer to sleep may lead to weight gain. This is because of the higher total daily caloric intake and a greater number of eating occasions.
Weight gain when unchecked becomes chronic and leads to obesity.
Another study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that late-night eating predicts weight gain.
The findings showed that participants who ate between 11 pm and 5 am ate more during the day. They were more likely to eat around 500 calories more per day.
Point is, if you eat late at night, you risk adding up to your body’s unnatural weight gain.
Putting on weight might be easy. But it is very difficult to lose that extra flab.
Late-night snacks store the extra calories in our body for hours, and that is why it can speed up your weight gain.
If you are dieting, you are sure to feel hungry late at night. And might think that one chocolate or a cheesy snack won’t be a problem.
But often that habit becomes a slippery slope for packing on more stubborn fat.
2. May impair memory and learning
Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles tested the cognitive abilities of the mice after feeding them for two weeks.
There were two windows of feeding. One was during the day when the mice were most active. The other was when the mice slept.
Their findings showed that the timing of meals may have significant effects on memory and learned behavior.
The mice who ate while they should have been sleeping impaired molecules involved in memory formation.
True, more research on humans will be needed to confirm if humans are also susceptible.
But in the meantime, the researchers agree that it could helpful to shift high caloric intake to earlier in the day.
3. Can lead to eating disorders
People who tend to eat their food late are also likely to make poor food choices. Poor food choices are the foundation of eating disorders.
Part of the reason you’re likely to make a poor choice is tiredness. Research shows that the more tired you are, the more likely you are to crave unhealthy or high-calorie food.
Also if you’re don’t get enough sleep, you tend to eat more than you probably should.
Poor food choices can lead to eating disorders. With time, poor choices compound and negatively affect our health.
Eating disorders like stress-eating cause you to eat a lot more throughout the day.
4. Increased risk of GERD
One of the health effects of eating late at night is the risk of GERD.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is an uncomfortable experience when food contents in the stomach get back up into the esophagus.
If you are having late night snacks and laying down on your stomach and eating all those, then your stomach acids start to track back up your esophagus.
GERD is more common than you’d think. Research estimates that between 18.1 and 27.8 percent in North America experience GERD.
In Europe and East Asia, the prevalence is around 8.8 -25.9 percent and 2.5 -7.8 percent respectively.
You get burps and sharp stomach pain as a result of this activity.
It is an internal struggle that your body goes through, which you can prevent. It is not a sign of a good and healthy system.
Experts say one should have at least a two-hour gap between their last meal and sleep.
5. Disturbed sleep schedule
When your stomach is rumbling at night and asks for more food, it is going to interrupt your sleep cycle.
You’ll feel tired because of less sleeping hours.
The average sleeping hours of a person should be 8 hours uninterrupted sleep that is a sign of a healthy person.
With your sleep not fulfilled, you will be facing a significant impediment and not able to live a healthy lifestyle.
6. May affect pregnancy
Pregnancy is a period where our usual hunger pangs double the times of an average person.
Your cravings would be touching the roof, and you would want to have food and snacks at every point of time.
But, at night you should stop yourself from munching anything before going to sleep. For a pregnant woman, then it would adversely affect you and your baby’s health.
Eat healthy and fresh foods throughout the day but strictly avoid late at night snacking.
7. Can affect metabolism and digestion
In general, the body’s metabolism is low at night. This is because we are not moving.
Eating late at night makes an already low metabolic state worse. You’re not able to digest the food quickly enough.
Poor digestion can make you vulnerable to illnesses since your body is not able to distribute the right nutrients to the body.
If you are binge eating at late hours, you would not have the power to fight with any diseases you are prone to.
Eating healthy and at proper hours would save you from a lot of unwanted illnesses.
If you are munching at night, then be ready for a poor metabolism and an invitation to a lot of flu and diseases.
It is going to shoot up the fatty molecules that would increase your risk of being ill.
If you can, avoid eating late at night since the effects are not worth it. We all desire to live a long and healthy life.
Stay fit with proper diet at proper timing and reduce the negative impact on your precious body.