Does Eating Late Make You Put On Weight?

We’ve all heard the claim that being ‘nil-by-mouth’ after 5pm helps you to lose weight, but is this really true?

Well, yes it is and here I’ll explain why and how eating later could be jeopardising your weight loss progress.

Reason #1: Artificial light causes insulin resistance

New research has shown that blue and green light, from devices and bright lighting, lead to chronically elevated stress hormone levels.

We should start the day with high cortisol that gradually decreases over the course of the day. Exposure to light in the evenings scews this pattern.

Chronically elevated cortisol is also associated with storage of fat around the middle and insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is a state where your body is less responsive to the effects of insulin, meaning that you need more insulin to do the job of moving glucose into your cells.

Insulin is your fat storage hormone and therefore elevated insulin levels are not desirable!

Once the sun has gone down, you switch on artificial lighting and I think it’s safe to assume that most people are eating dinner in front of the TV or some sort of blue-light-emitting device.

Essentially, exposure to light when you’re supposed to be in darkness disrupts your circadian rhythm (your sleep-wake cycle) by increasing your stress hormone levels in the evening. We’ve known for a while that this affects sleep quality and duration, and that itself downregulates metabolism, but now we’re learning that this exposure to blue light also directly and immediately increases insulin resistance.

In light (pun not intended) of this recent research, eating during the hours of daylight may reduce insulin resistance and therefore aid your weight loss efforts.

Reason #2: The later you eat the shorter your fast

If you’ve read much of my content before, you’ll know that I’m big on fasting. The list of health and weight loss benefits are long.

I like my clients to have a minimum overnight fast (gap between dinner and breakfast) of at least 12 hours. During a fast, your blood sugar and insulin level decreases, allowing your body to move into fat-burning mode.

Ideally, this overnight fast should regularly last longer and sometimes it works well for people to have just two meals per day; so long as those meals are really nutrient-dense and balanced.

The later you eat, the shorter this overnight fast is and the less time you’ll spend in fat-burning mode (unless you delay breakfast).

Reason #3: The later you eat the less time you have to burn off carbs

For the majority, dinner involves starchy carbohydrates; potato, pasta, rice, bread, grains etc. Carbohydrates break down into glucose and are absorbed into the bloodstream and then into the cells for energy production.

Here’s the thing. In the evenings most people are pretty sedentary. There’s not a lot of energy being burned off after dinner. The earlier you eat, the more opportunity your body has to use any carbohydrates, that you ate at dinner, to make energy.

The later you eat, the more chance there is that your cells will be converting that glucose into fat for storage because you just don’t need the energy.

Summary Take home tips

Whilst not everyone that eats late will pile on the pounds, if you’re struggling to lose weight or reverse type-2 diabetes then it’s worth trying the following steps:

  1. When practical, avoid eating after dark
  2. Do not eat in front of a device like the TV or your phone
  3. After the sun has gone down, wear glasses that block blue light.
  4. If you have to eat late have a low-carb meal
  5. Eating two meals per day is perfectly okay and is often a helpful strategy for weight loss.


You Might Like Our Free Meal Plan...

More Articles Like This...

What’s on TV? Trust Me I’m A Doctor Review

Hooray for Kefir!

Trust me I’m a Doctor returned this month and the first episode included a small study on probiotics. Thirty volunteers were split into small groups and consumed either an ‘off the shelf’ probiotic drink, kefir or prebiotic foods for four weeks in an effort to improve their gut health. Whilst the other groups showed some improvement, they found that the group who consumed the kefir had the greatest increase in all types of Lactobacillus bacteria.

Read More

New Hope For Anxiety Sufferers

The complementary therapy world is now exploring the use of hemp extracts for various conditions and anxiety and stress is just one area being researched.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is an extract of the cannabis plant, which has had a positive effect on the symptoms of anxiety. Research has also found that CBD acts on regions of the brain that control the fear response.

Read More

Learning Difficulties Linked to Winter Conception

A new study completed by the university of Glasgow has found a link between children that were conceived during the winter and learning difficulties. This connection can potentially be explained by the lack of sunlight in the winter, causing vitamin D deficiency in the motherRead More

Food, Gene Expression and Disease Prevention

The future of nutrition lies in our genes. Since the recent completion of the mapping of the human genome, a new area of science, called nutrigenomics, has emerged.

As humans, our DNA is 99.9% identical. The 0.1% that is different is due to mutations in the genome, know as single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs. Read More

Pre-Breakfast Workout Anyone?

A new study has compared the fat burning potential of working-out before breakfast to working-out after breakfast and to not exercising at all. It was thought that exercising would result in an increased appetite later in the day to compensate for the energy used, however this was not the case.Read More