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Should You Eat After 7pm?

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Bodybuilding and Fitness Newsletter 5/3/2023

Does Eating After 7pm Make You Gain Weight?

I have to say, the question of eating after 7pm is one of the most popular questions that I continue to get, in and around the office (the gym) 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 rather than when??!!

When You're Overweight

When you're well above your average weight I don't think eating late at night makes much of a difference. When you're heavy you need to focus more on calories in versus calories out - you need to create a calorie deficit. A way to do this is to eat slightly below your daily caloric intake and then use cardio and weight training to create a bigger deficit.

When Trying To Add Muscle

This is the time where 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'm getting sufficient protein intake in my system before sleeping for 7 or 8 hours.

I don't 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're Almost Lean

Like I said earlier, eating at night usually isn't a big deal if you're overweight or right around normal but when you're 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 whatsoever 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.

Quick Summary

The human body is complex and science has not unlocked all its secrets yet. The body's circadian clock, working in concert with sunlight and darkness, and governing when people eat, sleep and feel active, may have some effects on how calories are burned. Regardless of exactly how the body uses these calories, there are other reasons to avoid eating at night.

When you're trying to add muscle it's a good idea to get some food into you before bed (preferably protein). When you are overweight it doesn't really matter - what matters more is how many calories you're eating versus how many calories you're burning.

Since eating at night can also lead to complications including sleep problems and indigestion, it is advisable to avoid eating at least 2-3 hours before going to bed. Ideally, the last meal of the day should be smaller, low on concentrated carbohydrates and consist of mostly lean proteins and vegetables. Less than 10% of one's daily energy intake should be consumed after 7pm.

Even if weight eventually proves to be purely a calories numbers game, eating at night has negative effects on weight and other aspects of human health and if possible, should be avoided.

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