What happens if you eat after 8pm?

What happens if you eat after 8pm?

Is the “no eating after 8pm” rule actually good for your health?

Even if you don’t practice a time-restricted diet like intermittent fasting, you may have imposed some practices on your nightly routine. The most common time to stop eating? 20:00.

Variations of “don’t eat after 8pm” have floated around in our cultural consciousness for years. Eating too close to bedtime has been associated with acid reflux, indigestion, and blood sugar interference (all of which can cause a poor night’s rest).

But is it really that big to eat after eight o’clock?

Here’s what registered dietitians and gastroenterologists have to say about nighttime eating.

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While there isn’t much research on not eating specifically after 8 p.m., there are proven benefits to curbing late-night eating in general.

“When individuals consume food at night, it tends to consist more often of processed foods high in carbohydrates and fats than carefully planned and balanced meals,” Janese S. Laster, MD, a board-certified physician in internal medicine, obesity medicine. , gastroenterology and nutrition, said health.

She explained that the timing of eating can affect your digestion, absorption and metabolism – ultimately affecting your weight.

A 2022 study supports this: Researchers found that eating later in the day increased participants’ hunger, decreased the amount of calories they burned, and led to greater fat storage.

According to Laster, these effects can be unique to each person based on types of food, genetics, stress levels and other factors.

Activity levels in the evening and even enjoying food together can also play an important role. If you’ve traveled to other cultures, for example, you may have noticed that in countries like Spain, where dinner is often served at 10pm or later, obesity rates are lower than in the US.

However, Laster noted that “it is generally accepted that eating earlier is associated with weight stability.”

Beyond its effects on weight gain, eating at an hour later can also be detrimental to digestion.

“Eating close to bedtime or before lying down significantly increases GERD or acid reflux, so for that reason I don’t recommend it,” said gastroenterologist Caroline Soyka, DO. health.

If acid reflux tends to disrupt your sleep, it’s a good idea to stick to a one-hour break from eating on the previous side.

“For individuals experiencing bloating or heartburn, it is advisable to avoid eating within 90 minutes of bedtime to prevent gastrointestinal symptoms,” Laster said.

Life is busy for all of us at times—so what if your schedule doesn’t allow for an early meal?

Fortunately, eating after 8pm probably isn’t a total hindrance to your health.

“While there is evidence linking late-night eating to potential health concerns like poor digestion, weight gain and other issues, it’s not necessarily true for everyone,” said Julie Pace, RDN, a registered dietitian and founder of Core Nutrition Health and Wellness. health.

According to a 2015 study, the negative results from late-night eating may not last when food choices are small, nutrient-dense, or low-calorie.

“A big difference with nighttime snacking is whether those foods are healthy or not,” explained Bess Berger, RD, a registered dietitian and owner of the private practice Nutrition by Bess. Health.

“If we’re eating leftover pizza, ice cream, or chips, no matter what time of day, those are not healthy choices,” Berger explained. “Instead, if we choose fruits, vegetables, lean protein or nuts, no matter the time of day, they are healthy choices, providing great energy and nutrients for you.”

If your work or school schedule doesn’t allow you time to eat until after 8 p.m., that doesn’t mean you have to skip meals either.

“If someone works or has classes late, having a limited time to eat may not work,” Berger said. “Also, if one has a different schedule from day to day, having a limited time to eat can be complicated.”

If you live with diabetes or other blood sugar problems, it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for the timing of your meals and snacks. Going too long without eating can be dangerous.

Although 8pm may be the ideal time for some people to say goodnight to food, it’s not a hard and fast rule for everyone.

If you want to choose a time to stop eating, Laster advised considering your family’s schedule, as well as any health issues you may want to address with meal times.

If possible, just try to leave yourself some space between eating dinner and going to bed.

“Because everyone’s schedules are different and ‘internal clocks’ can vary, I recommend making it a goal to finish eating at least two to three hours before bed,” Soyka said.

This should allow you to stay full throughout the evening and not go to bed hungry – according to Laster, the average time for stomach emptying is about four hours.

Remember, too, that nocturnal disruption isn’t the only mealtime habit that can affect your well-being.

Pace explained that “timing meals consistently, avoiding large meals before bed, practicing mindful eating, maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and listening to your body rather than watching the clock may be more influential.” for your health”.

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