Eating Just Before Bedtime

The prevalent advice is that it is better to eat early in the day than late in the day even if the same number of calories per day is consumed. Since the number of calories you consume compared to those you burn ultimately determines your weight gain or loss, the above dictum would be true only if eating later in the day were to slow down your metabolism. However, any alleged slowing down is questionable. More likely, any caloric deficit will have the same effect, no matter what time of day it occurs. In fact eating raises your metabolism because, initially, it takes energy to digest food.

Nevertheless, it is not a good idea to eat late in the day for different reasons: While you are asleep, food is not available, and the body must utilize its reserves. Extending the period during which the body is deprived of an intake of food intensifies the pressure on it to increase its glycogen-storage and fat-burning capacities. Not eating before going to sleep thereby teaches your body to burn fat for energy more readily. (The more the body burns fat readily, the less the craving for frequent carbohydrate meals.)

Of course, not eating late and also stepping up exercise will further enhance the beneficial effect. In short, we must educate our bodies to readily utilize fat reserves for energy and thereby wean ourselves from the need for frequent intake of carbohydrate.

Also, resting the digestive organs is very important for allowing irritations to heal, and going a long time without food provides an increased opportunity for healing.

Next, eating bathes the mucous membranes of your throat in a nutritious medium for the growth of bacteria. When you are asleep, there is little saliva flow to wash the residue away. Consequently, you may awaken with a sore throat, especially if you have eaten milk products before bedtime.

Last, because eating raises your metabolism for a period of time, eating late in the day will cause you to feel warmer than normal when you retire. You will adjust the covers accordingly. Later that night, as your metabolism starts to lower, you will start to feel cold. Usually, the ambient temperature decreases at night, making you feel even colder. These factors will contribute to poor sleep.

Therefore, you should plan the last meal of the day so that bedtime arrives just as you start experiencing interest in food. Not eating means that you will be asleep at the time when you might normally feel hungry. When this calorie deficit is tallied over the years, it can make a substantial difference.

Not eating at night will help you to sleep better, rest your stomach and other organs, and train your body to burn fat rather than sugar.

The above article is from Robert Chuckrow, The Intelligent Dieter’s Guide, Rising Mist Publications, Briarcliff Manor, NY, 1997, pp. 24–25 and 54–55.

©Copyright 1997 & 2013 by Robert Chuckrow

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