Eating Before Bed

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When you eat has a major impact on how much weight you can lose or muscle you can grow. Read this article to find out when you should be eating.

What and when you eat at the end of the day can have a large impact on your weight. If you eat the right thing at the right time you can actually lose weight while you sleep. Eat the wrong thing at the wrong time and you can plan on waking up with a little more body fat in the morning.

To succsufully lose weight, you'll need to stop eating two – three hours before going to bed. You shold not feel starving before bed but you should feel slightly hungry. When you're trying to lose weight, slipping into bed at night feeling slightly hungry is actually a good thing. It's your body telling you that what you did that day is working — you're losing body fat. If you don't feel this way, you're probably not losing fat.

Now lets say you follow your brain's directive and eat close to bedtime, your body will not dip into the fat it has stored away, and will probably even store some more. Every time you eat, your metabolism increases slightly. But this effect is lost or minimized late at night. You don't get the same metabolism-boosting benefit when you eat just before bed, because a couple of hours after dinner, your body begins preparing for sleep. This natural slackening of your metabolic rate overrides any metabolic boost you might get from eating. So once you hit the pillow, the only calories you're going to use are the basic calories you need to keep your heart beating and your lungs breathing and allow your eyes to move in REM sleep. This is only a minimal number of calories.

Believe it or not, eating late at night can also inhibit your calorie-burning potential the next day. Say, for instance, that you treat yourself to a sandwich and some fat free chips at 9.:30 P.M. one night and are fast asleep by 10:30. When your alarm goes off the next morning at eight, the last thing on your mind is going to be breakfast — you're still full from the sandwich and fat free chips you ate the night before. Chances are, you're going to skip breakfast and lose all the metabolism-boosting benefits you'd get from eating a morning meal.

Things to Remember:

  • Eating too much food, especially carbohydrates, late at night increases your body fat stores
  • Eating high-glycemic carbs (pasta, potatoes, white rice, sugar, etc.) right before bed will spike your insulin levels and blunt nighttime Human Growth Hormone (HGH) production.
  • That's very bad because about 80% of this fat-burning, muscle-building "super hormone" is released during sleep.
  • If you fast for 11 hours (8 PM to 7 am for instance) your body will begin burning significant amounts of fat around the 5th hour (1 am) and continue to do so until you wake up.

Here are a few simple tips to make sure you get the most from your last meal of the day:

  • Eat about 3 hours before going to bed – you'll have some time to burn off calories but you probably won't get too hungry before going to sleep
  • Eat frequently throughout the day – small, healthy meals and snacks spaced about 3 hours apart – to minimize hunger cravings at night
  • Your last meal should consist mainly of a lean protein (like baked chicken breast) and low-calorie, fibrous carbohydrates (veggies and fruits) – avoid all starchy carbs close to bedtime (breads, pastas, rice, potatoes, etc.)
  • If, like many of us, you get big-time carb cravings right before bed… some carbs! Just make sure they're the high-fiber, low-glycemic kind: apples, berries, peaches, plums, bran cereal, fresh vegetables, vegetable juice, etc.
  • If you're currently strength training to build muscle, a great end-of-the-day meal option is low-fat cottage cheese (full of slowly-digested casein protein) with no-sugar-added fresh or canned fruit.

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