Late Night Snacks

Origin Nutrition Topic 41: Late Night Snacks?  Good or Bad?

The Broscience:

No Carbs after 7:00, because your metabolism slows down.  Take this Article by Dirk’s health with recommends not eating late at night because your metabolism slows down.1  Notice the lack of citations to authority.

The Truth:

The premise behind this broscience is false.  Metabolism during the REM cycle in healthy individuals is often higher than resting metabolism.2  Plus, it has been clinically demonstrated that eating carbs before going to bed helps people fall asleep.3

“Carbs at Night Help with Weight Loss?”

Here’s the truth, the internet makes it too easy for people to make logical conclusions about the body, and the eschew nutrition and fitness advice.  The problem is that there are often 10-20 competing factors about any given process, and even given a certain stimulus, the body have positive and negative feedback cycles to address the stimulus.

Real scientists test their hypotheses, and that’s exactly what Sofer & Eliraz did in their research about eating late at night.  Their conclusion the 80 police officers they tested lost more weight when they were allowed to eat most of their carbohydrates during the night!  4

Be Careful about What Nutrition Advice you Follow

Famous company’s like Fitbit (I don’t have anything against Fitbit, but I do take issue with this one particular article I found), spout out advice like,

How bad is a little midnight snack, anyway?  Pretty bad according to a study published in Obesity. Researchers noticed when you stay up late your body’s internal circadian system kicks off hormone production that causes increased appetite, cravings for sweets, and fat storage. And giving in to those hunger pangs for high-calorie treats can lead to significant weight gain.5

Obesity is a great journal.  My problem is blog writers that misuse journals like this (often they don’t even read the article) to support a premise based on perhaps just the title.  Go ahead and read that article (it’s short I promise)6 and tell me where in that article does Scheer et. al support anything that Fitbit urges.  In fact, the article is comparing the reported symptoms of hunger between morning and evening shift workers.  It’s not even relevant to the point made by the article.

Be warned… every piece of advice has many sides to it

Did you know that eating late at night also interrupts to body’s ability to produce Human Growth Hormone (HGH)?  So if you are more concerned with building muscle eating late at night isn’t a good idea.  But eating more carbs and eating late at night are two separate things.

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Sleeping Well at Night is Key

Losing body fat pretty much requires you to sleep well.  If you don’t sleep well at night a cascade of problems arise including:

  • Increased cortisol levels (a catabolic hormone that breaks down muscle and causes the body to store fat around the core.)
  • Elevated ghrelin levels (hormone that causes hunger)
  • Decreased leptin levels (hormone that causes satiety)
  • Higher BMI

“Hey do you have a cite for that nugget?”

Glad you asked, “Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index” 7, and “Sleep, Appetite, and Obesity—What Is the Link?” 8

So is eating some carbs late at night a good idea?  If it helps you sleep better, yes. If it doesn’t, no.  However, that doesn’t give you cart blanch to down a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.  Good quality carbohydrates are always going to be a better choice.

Need some good snack ideas for late night snacks?

How about Some Supplements to help with the Cravings?

  1. Corticontrol with Relora helps with the cortisol levels
  2. Psyllium Husks helps you feel full
  3. Sleepzz helps you fall and stay asleep.

Get them all at Sand & Steel.  5% off when you mention this article.


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