To Eat Or Not To Eat After 8pm?

Posted by : foongpc | Sunday, July 27, 2008 | Published in


In one of my previous posts, How You Can Lose Weight If You Are Not Mariah Carey, there were some debates over my suggestion that we should not eat after 8pm if we want to lose weight.

For many of us, this point of whether to eat or not may simply be a waste of time. But to those who are seriously trying to lose weight, this is a very important matter. As such, I wrote an email to Jayden Chen, a Fitness Consultant, Speaker and Author of the recently released book, Slim Malaysians to clarify on this issue.

Here's his reply to my email...

You have an interesting topic going here. But it is not controversial at all. I would be glad to share my views. Both Reena's and your comments are valid but you seemed to be looking at this topic from a different point of view. Yours, for ordinary or less active peoples' weight loss and Reena's, from a more active persons point of view.

My feel is that this topic is meant more for an average person, which in our society are mostly sedentary people. People who don't exercise a lot. Addressing this subject from this angle, your advice would be most practical and applicable. However, it doesn't mean that Reena's advice is invalid or wrong. It's just that they are more suitable for people who are active. As you notice, Reena mentioned a lot about high metabolic rate, repair and growth. And even consuming some calories at 4a.m. in the morning. People who do these are usually rather active people and more often, bodybuilders.

However, for an ordinary sedentary individual, eating after 8pm or too late in the evening would not be a good idea if one is trying to lose weight. Unless, like you mentioned they sleep real late and would be hungry by then. In that case, some low calorie and easily digested food can be consumed to avoid interrupting our bodies, for example the liver, doing its job. Our body lower its metabolic rate gradually toward sleeping hours to prepare itself for proper rest. That's when your body temperature goes down, digestive system slows down to prepare for sleep. Try doing intense exercises just before sleep will raise your metabolic rate, making you feel warm and alert. You won't be able to go to sleep or at least can't sleep well.

Research has shown that consuming calories at different hours of the day does affect how much of them are burned off. Eat after an exercise session, for example lifting weights, your body would use up almost all of the calories to repair and replenish glycogen stores in your muscles. Some call this the "window of opportunity" for repair and replenishing glycogen stores. But eating in the evening does exactly the opposite (for inactive people). Unless, you have not been eating enough the whole day. Then probably the calories and nutrients you consumed at this late hour will be used for whatever its needed. (so it depends also whether you have been starving during the day, then eating at night would not really matter, as your total calorie intake for the day would be still at a deficit or within your need).

However, an average sedentary person who has a few more extra pounds is already consuming more than enough calories. Or else, why would he or she wants to lose weight? These individuals need to eat less and more healthily and not more. Having not enough carbs or protein to repair muscles etc are the least of their concern. They should learn to eat the right foods and the right amount and at the right time first.

This rule is important because it ensures that an average person would consume most of their calories during the day when they are more active. Walking and thinking during work for example, requires energy.

So, my conclusion is this - Eating late is not a good idea because it's time your body prepares itself for rest and other "cleaning up" process like you mentioned - detox. You may feel tired the next day if you eat heavy meals too late. Secondly, you body uses energy less efficiently at this hour (Unlike eating after an exercise session). And, it also helps set the person's eating habits and timetable right.

But for an active individual or a person who has a better idea of their calorie count (which most people don't) a light meal, like yoghurt, milk, or protein shake, would be fine if taken before bedtime. (I do that too, by the way but I exercise 3 - 5 days a week with a combination of weights, martial arts, training for 10km runs, swim etc.) Having said that, even some active individuals put on weight because of over consuming calories in their 6 - 7 meals a day. So, eventually, it's really a matter of whether you consume in TOTAL more than the calories you need or not.

Therefore, following the general rule of not eating too late for an average sedentary person who is trying to lose weight will prevent them from overeating. As they most likely already have.

Jayden Chen

(10) Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Definitely no eating at least 4 hours before bedtime for me. If really desperate, a cup of warm milk. I follow my mother's golden rule of more meals in small portion, more veggies, less meat. So far so good.

    July 27, 2008 at 10:14 AM
  2. Anonymous

    Normally I dont eat after yoga class which means after 9pm.

    July 27, 2008 at 11:22 AM
  3. said...

    Nice reply you got over there

    July 27, 2008 at 1:40 PM
  4. Anonymous

    Thanks for coming back to address this. She shared some very helpful information.

    July 27, 2008 at 8:23 PM
  5. Anonymous

    I believe dun eat after 8 is good, but not many of us can resist the temptation from mamak stall, haha!

    July 28, 2008 at 3:13 PM
  6. foongpc said...

    cc, very healthy indeed!

    keeyit, great! Keep it up!, thanks to you too!

    jacqueline, glad you find it helpful. Now, no need to be confused anymore.

    jam, I know what you mean. It's all about self discipline, but it's ok to break the rules once in a while. Life's no fun when we follow rules rigidly.

    July 29, 2008 at 12:58 PM
  7. Anonymous

    I read a few very interesting articles about burn fat at Total Health Remedies - Burn Fat. My sister has difficulties burning her fat and she does not know much about the ins and outs of it. So I suggested the above website. Her problem seems to be getting better. I guess that knowing about what may be ailing you is half the battle!

    August 19, 2008 at 1:47 AM
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