So you have gotten home from the gym, happy hour, or work and scarf down dinner … only to hit the sheets a couple of minutes later! Been there? You are not alone!
For many of us, taking a sumptuous and satisfying little bedtime snack is constitutes our evening ritual. Most people have a bowl of cereal or some crackers and cheese before bed for various reasons. Others end their weekend night out with a 2 a.m. slice.
So, is it healthy to eat before bed? Are you one of the people that has been warned against taking food at night because it is bad for weight, sleep, or digestion? What does science say about this?
Well, one thing is for sure – eating before bed is such a controversial topic. There is a lot of conflicting advice online that is misleading.
How Digestion Works
Before understanding how eating before bed affects your bodily systems and the body, it is prudent that you first understand how digestion works. What is the timeline or order of events once you consume food? It all begins in the mouth. After eating your meal, you break and soften it through chewing as well as the body’s digestive enzymes. As food moves to your stomach and down further to the gastrointestinal tract and small/large intestines, more and more enzymes are handy at helping to break down the meal. while the body absorbs some food molecules, it packages up the rest as waste and passes it through the colon.
Therefore, eating right before bed is most likely not to slow the process down. Because digestion is an automatic function, it does not need us to awake for the process to take place.
So what is the harm of eating before bed if I will not mess with my digestion?
Myths about Weight Gain
Many people claim eating right before bedtime packs on the pound. This is among the diet tales that surely needs to disappear. Different studies on this subject reveal mixed results. There is no convincing data that proves eating moments before bed is a major contributor to weight gain or loss for that matter. Your eating schedule is individual. Weight loss and gain are more of what you are eating and less of when you are eating. Excess consumption of calories during the day, and not just before sleep, is what has a major impact on your weight. Therefore, the last thing that should stress you in terms of weight is the occasional consumption of late dinner.
Pros and Cons of Eating Before Bed
1 in 4 Americans have problems with falling asleep. Part of the problem with their poor sleep patterns is related to the foods they consume before going to bed. Your bedtime snack should contain some carbs and fat for better sleep. Protein interferes with sleep. Roughly 15 – 30 minutes before you sleep, you can have a bowl of heavy cream and berries. You can also choose to take some almond butter, apple slices, guac, mashed avocado, banana pudding, and carrots. Here is a comprehensive list of foods that promotes or deprives you of sleep.
Improves Energy Levels
Did you know that when sleeping, your body is usually at work and requires energy? If you have ever been to a coaching appointment, some of the things the professionals try to establish are things such as the main causes of your sleep issues, weight gain, fatigue, as well as low energy levels. Once you begin to support your metabolism regularly and follow a set of action steps, you will manage to improve your energy levels. As aforementioned, eating carbs and fat boosts your body’s metabolism meaning your body continues to burn fats even when you are asleep. Truly, a bedtime snack matters.
Maintains Stable Blood Sugar Levels
For the body to work efficiently, it must maintain optimum sugar levels. Eating a snack before you go to bed aids in this undertaking. A deficiency in blood sugar levels is harmful to physical and emotional health. Balancing the levels is key as high levels can be dangerous as well.
Acid reflux or Heartburn
You know that horizontal, lying down position? Although taking your food before doesn’t interfere with the ability of your body to undertake the digestion process, lying down on your bed immediately after eating makes it effortless for digestive juices to travel further up the esophagus. Once stomach acid backs into the food pipe (esophagus), that is when acid reflux or heartburn kicks in.
A great way of avoiding this uncomfortable condition particularly at night is by sitting up in your bed or couch for some time after eating. For around 30 minutes to one hour, try propping yourself up with pillows and do some reading. Moving around is also a great way to push digestive juices further down and avoid acid reflux once you get to bed. A simple activity such as tidying up your home can be magical.
Risks of Eating Late
When you eat your dinner late at night, you will feel less hunger the following morning. If you skip breakfast, chances are high that you will overeat during the day, or take unhealthy snacks either at lunch or in the evening. Most people that eat late sleep right after taking their meal, which can cause issues, like indigestion and an increased risk of a stroke. Do you know that eating late also increases risks of mental exhaustion? No wonder many people complain of having nightmares due to late-night food consumption. Impaired judgement and weakened willpower is also a possibility. If you are a bodybuilder, there is the risk of lack of energy and complete exhaustion.
To Snack at Night or Not To Snack
Eating before bed is a relative issue. Your choice to take a snack come nightfall should be made based on understanding your body and what it needs. Although there are some healthy nighttime snacks, the truth of the matter is that there is no one-snack-fits all solution for every sleeper. Your body has rhythms. It is prudent that you not only heed those rhythms, but also make intelligence choices grounded on them too.