I have to say, the question of eating late at night is one of the most popular questions that I continue to get in and around the office on a daily basis. Why do people feel that eating late at night is what is sabotaging their weight loss efforts? Could it have more to do with what they are eating then when.

When your 20 pounds or more overweight

When you are well above your average weight I do not think eating late at night makes much of a difference. When you are heavy you need to focus more on calories in contrary calories out. You need to create a calorie deficiency. A way to do this is to eat slowly below your daily caloric intake and then use cardio and weight training to create a bigger deficit.

When you are trying to add muscle

This is the time where I think it’s important to get some protein into your system right before going to bed. I like to drink a protein shake or make a couple scrambled eggs about a half an hour before bed to make sure I am getting sufficient protein take in my system before sleeping for 7 or 8 hours. I do not have any evidence to back this up but to me it just makes sense to get protein before bed when trying to add muscle. (helps repair tissues, speeds up recovery and helps grow muscle).

When you are 5 to 10 pounds out from being lean

Like I said earlier, eating at night usually is not a big deal if you’re overweight or right around normal but when you are 5 to 10 pounds out from seeing that six pack all the rules start to change. At this point you need to start ending your last meal about 4 hours before bed. No food whatever 4 to 5 hours before bed. If you get really hungry you could have an apple and a yogurt or cottage cheese at night but for the most part try to stay away from food for this period of time.

In Summary

When your trying to add muscle it’s a good idea to get some food into you before bed (preferably protein). When you are overweight it does not really matter – what matters more is how many calories your eating versus how many calories your burning. And when you are at your ideal weight and need to get that six pack to pop it’s a good idea to stay away from food 4 to 5 hours before going to bed.

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