Summer has finally arrived and that means it’s time to build that beach body.
With the extended daylight hours and the perfect weather for outings, many people find themselves indulging in late-night snacking.
But how long before bed should you stop eating if you’re hoping to avoid unwanted outcomes like weight gain, acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion and spiking blood sugar levels?
Meal timing is essential to ensure your body effectively digests the food. You should not go to bed within three hours after having a large meal.
This is not saying you should not eat or drink after a certain time. If you are staying up late and you had your last meal more than four hours ago, you can opt for a healthy and light snack, such as a piece of fruit, to stop your stomach from rumbling.
Drinking water is always encouraged. However, drinking excessive water at night could result in puffiness on the face and body. A full bladder will wake you up during the night.
We often hear things like “you should not eat after 6pm” and “eating before bed will keep you up all night”. But are these sayings true?
The reality is if you tend to go to bed early, eating after 6pm might interfere with your digestion.
Think about the three-hour rule: If you had a large meal at 6pm, and you plan to hit the sack at 8:30pm, much of the meal has not yet been digested. Lying down is certainly not the ideal position for healthy digestion.
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It’s recommended that you go for a walk after a heavy dinner, which can assist with speeding up your metabolism.
Will Eating Before Bed Keep You Up All Night?
Nutrition and health expert Joy Bauer says consuming certain food and drinks at night can indeed decrease your sleep quality.
Caffeinated and sugary drinks and food, including coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate, should be avoided several hours before bed.
According to Joy Bauer, caffeine can activate the central nervous system and give your brain a restless night.
Some people might choose to consume alcohol to help them fall asleep faster, but the relaxing effect often wears off very soon so they may wake up in the middle of the night.
Joy Bauer also says alcohol-induced sleep will become less restful over time and the person will feel sleepy during the day. So do not use alcohol as a sleeping pill.
So, What Can You Consume in The Few Hours Leading to Bed?
Ms Bauer recommends serotonin-producing snacks as they help you feel calm and sleepy.
Serotonin-producing food includes low-fat dairy and fruits such as apples and grapes.
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A bedtime snack should not be worth more than 200 calories, otherwise, it would still take a while to digest.
How Can You Avoid Getting Food Cravings Right Before Bedtime?
Many people find themselves battling the urge to have an evening snack before going to bed. There are some simple ways to minimise the chances this will happen to you:
- Eat sufficient quantities of food to fuel your body during the day. If you’re starving yourself during the daytime, it’s not surprising that you’ll start to crave a nighttime snack later in the evening. Late-night eating can lead to a vicious cycle of not feeling hungry in the morning and then skipping breakfast. It’s better to avoid this cycle and instead eat balanced meals during the day.
- Reduce your stress levels. Stressed people tend to experience elevated ghrelin levels in the evenings. Ghrelin is the hormone responsible for making you feel hungry
Should You Skip Dinner to Lose Weight?
For people who want to lose a few kilograms for the perfect summer body, skipping dinner might seem a quick way to do it.
But all three meals are important for human’s daily activities and nutrition. Skipping dinner might help you with weight loss in the short term, but it’s not healthy in the long term.
Skipping dinner means it’ll be more than 12 hours before your next meal. When you eat after long hours of having an empty stomach, your body is more likely to turn the food into fat. This is because it needs to make up for what was lost during the time you weren’t eating.
Your sleep quality will also be affected when your stomach keeps rumbling throughout the night.
At the end of the day, the healthiest way to lose weight is to eat food with less sugar and fat and exercise regularly.