Midnight snacking and/or late dinners have long been tagged as bad for health. With the rising cases of obesity especially in the Western countries like the US, researchers are now on the lookout for contributing factors that lead to weight gain and obesity. A team from Harvard Medical School recently conducted a study to analyse the effects of late night eating and midnight snacking on weight. They found that eating late at night doubles up the risk of weight gain and obesity. In this article, we list out possible reasons why eating late at night might trigger weight gain.
Disrupts circadian rhythm
Circadian rhythm is the sleep-wake cycle that tells your body to eat, sleep, and wake at regular times. Most of us have a disciplined routine which becomes our circadian rhythm. Ideally, nighttime is meant for sleeping and so, when you eat or play at night, your circadian rhythm gets disturbed leading to various complications, weight gain being one of them. A study on PUBMED shows the role of sleep timing on our weight and BMI.
When you feel hungry at night, you are highly likely to not snack but overeat. Midnight snacking is a term for midnight eating. Late night eaters are more likely to eat more and thus, intake more calories. A study finds that people who eat at their bedtime consume higher calories.
How many of us eat healthy midnight snacks? Well, most people crave junk, fried and unhealthy foods at night. A study in NCBI explains the link between sleep, food cravings, and obesity in adolescence. Researchers find that cravings hamper dietary intake, sleep and thus, contribute to weight gain. The study also mentions that age also plays a crucial role in dietary modifications, late night eating, and obesity. Younger adults are more likely to have late night binge eating sessions as compared to older adults.
If you eat close to bedtime, you are prone to experience abdominal pain at night. Even though the digestion process continues even when you are asleep, it is relatively slower than daytime. You lie down at night, which may cause the gastric acids to travel back to the digestive tract and oesophagus. Thus, you may get acidity at night and after waking up.
Additionally, night eating habits might also trigger metabolic syndrome. This increases the risk of obesity. Researchers found that late dinner, eating snacks after dinner, or doing both is associated with metabolic syndrome.
Eating late at night, close to bedtime or at midnight, all are associated with weight gain. You tend to eat unhealthy food at night, which doubles up the risk and so, it is extremely important to regulate dietary habits. It is advised to not eat or drink anything at least two hours prior to bedtime. It allows ample time to digest and prevent metabolic issues, weight gain, and obesity in the long run.
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