Cutting Back on Carbs Before Bed

If you are trying to lose weight, watching the foods that you eat is an important part of being successful with your weight loss goals.  One of the most important times of the day to watch what you eat, however, is the time of day when most of us struggle:  before bedtime.

The Biological Process

While there is a popular myth that the food you eat before going to bed will instantly change into fat, this is not the case.  At the same time, eating before you go to bed does work against you when it comes to losing weight and maintaining a good level of fitness.

How does eating before bedtime hurt your diet if the calories are not transformed into fat?  To understand this, you have to have a better understanding of how the body works. Put simply, when you eat before going to bed, your body needs to release more insulin.  This is particularly true when you eat carbs before going to bed.  When your body releases more insulin, your body’s ability to burn fat slows down.  The process also slows down your body’s release of growth hormone, which is normally released as you sleep and helps to increase your body’s ability to burn fat.

So, while eating before you go to bed does not instantly turn the food into fat, it does slow down your body’s ability to burn the fat you already have.  Obviously, if you are trying to lose weight, you want your body to work as efficiently as possible when it comes to burning excess fat.

What if I am Really Hungry?

There is nothing that says you can’t eat anything at all when it gets close to bedtime, but it is best to avoid eating during the three hours before you go to bed if at all possible.  In order to avoid having late night hunger pangs, try to plan your dinner to be finished about three hours before your normal bedtime.  If you do feel hungry before time for bed, choose your foods carefully.  The best foods to eat are vegetables and proteins, as they won’t have the same negative effects on your body’s fat burning abilities. 

In many cases, late night hunger cravings are not really about being hungry.  Rather, they are more about falling into bad habits or even about fulfilling an emotional need.  In these cases, you need to mix a bit of self-discipline along with some self-therapy to help get you through the cravings.  Be sure to look at your eating habits closely and to determine the real reasons for your late night snacking and take steps to curb the munchies. 

Regardless of your reason for late night snacking, taking steps to choose healthier foods that will work with your body rather than against it will help your body work more efficiently and effectively.