Saw this article in the New York Times and it resonated immediately because in the 12 yrs I have been a personal trainer I must have been asked this about 10 million times.
Instead of commenting myself this time, I asked our new friend and Registered Dietitian Bonnie Zylberberg to comment:
To answer the question posed in the article’s title, no, weight gain is not necessarily caused by late night eating alone, but it may very well be a contributing factor!
In the few hours before we hit the sack most of us are likely catching up on our favorite TV shows or doing some other fairly sedentary activity, which means that any extra calories we take in don’t stand a chance at getting burned off. Keep in mind however that it’s usually the type and the amount of food, rather than the time of day, which can really affect your waistline. A calorie is a calorie, so whether it’s consumed at noon or at midnight, if you’re eating more than your body needs, you will be sabotaging your weight loss efforts. Consider this: eat an extra 100 calories every night (say, 4 Hershey’s chocolate kisses) and at the end of the year this will have cost you an extra 10 pounds!
For many people, late night eating is a result of habit, stress, boredom, fatigue, or some other factor unrelated to actual hunger. Here are a few tips which may help you to avoid those late night refrigerator raids:
–Eat a satisfying dinner. Try to include a source of lean protein (such as chicken or fish) as well as a source of fibre (such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta) at each meal. Protein and fibre will help fill you up.
–Eat slowly and savor your food. Remember that it takes about 15-20 minutes after you finish eating for your brain to register that you are full!
–Finish off dinner with a healthy dessert to satisfy a sweet tooth. Try some fat-free Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey or some frozen grapes.
–Close the kitchen for the night after dinner. Aim to finish dinner around 2-3 hours before bedtime.
–Sip on herbal tea or water flavored with lemon. Hunger is often confused for what is really thirst!
–Brush your teeth right after dinner. It’s easier to resist a snack when your mouth is minty fresh!
–Keep a written copy of your diet and weight loss goals in view at all times. This will help you to stay on track.
Bonnie now does Nutritional consultations, follow-ups, and meal plans at U.N.I GYM. Contact us for schedule and other info.