night time fridge

Let’s admit it-we all have little food moments the whole world doesn’t need to know about. Often, these little soires occur at night.   These are the moments that sabotage all of our fat loss goals!

Once dinner is cleaned up and you’ve worked your way through the dreaded stack of unfinished office work you’ve hauled home, you begin to hear the call of the night kitchen.
The next thing you know, you’re lying on the sofa watching a Seinfeld rerun and spooning your way through a bowl of your favorite chocolate-mint frozen yogurt. You realize you’re doing exactly what all your leaner stronger sooner personal trainer has warned against.
But what’s wrong with nighttime eating? Is food consumed after dark really more fattening than what we eat during the day?
Eating at night does seem to contribute to weight gain among people who are already overweight. In an investigation of more than 2,000 Danish people, night eating was defined as having little or no food at breakfast (called "morning anorexia") along with consuming at least half the total daily calorie intake after the evening meal. This seems like a bizarre pattern, but I was surprised to learn that as many as 9 percent of the women and 7 percent of the men reported being night eaters. Over six years, the overweight women who were night eaters gained almost 10 pounds more than those who were not.  That can certainly wreak havoc on anyone’s fat loss program!   Few facts exist as to why this happens; perhaps, by the light of the refrigerator in a deserted kitchen, we are more prone to letting our guard down.

If the consequences of nighttime eating can be troublesome, particularly for people who are overweight, can eating earlier in the day make a difference to your weight loss?  Among American women, breakfast eaters are more likely to have a healthy weight than women who don’t eat a morning meal. Champion breakfasters (in comparison to breakfast avoiders) have better nutrient profiles, tend to exercise more and are more apt to report that they try to control their weight.

Consider the possibility that breakfast might influence the rest of the day’s eating choices. A psychologist at the University of Texas recently found, in a study of 867 normal-weight volunteers, that as the day progressed, the time between eating got shorter while the calories per eating session increased. Interestingly, people who ate the most in the morning consumed fewer calories overall compared with those who did most of their eating in the evening.  Maybe your fat loss trainer knows what she is talking about after all?

I’m starting to better understand the pitfalls of my own evening munchies. While a small bowl of frozen yogurt is a perfectly reasonable nighttime snack, during particularly stressful times (including the very holidays I love) I’m more likely to pop a few extra treats, like some of that delectable fudge a colleague has given me, without really thinking about what it’s doing to your weight loss….

And on those nights that the yogurt just doesn’t do it, I am more vulnerable. If you suspect that your own nighttime eating pattern may be a problem, consider your snack choices carefully and, if you don’t already do so, eat a hearty breakfast. I could certainly benefit from eating less at night, which would probably help me wake up hungrier… Which is great because I love cereal, too!


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