You’ve probably heard that eating before bed is bad – that the food sits in your stomach and turns to fat. But is it true – or can we put this old adage to bed (pun intended)?
There has been a lot of research on the subject. For the most part, studies have concluded that meal frequency or timing doesn’t really matter. If you get a good and balanced diet, it doesn’t matter if you eat five times a day or three times a day, and it doesn’t matter if that last meal is at 5PM or 10PM.
In 1997, researchers sought to compile the findings of numerous studies regarding meal timing. The conclusion was that obesity rates are not connected to the times of day at which people eat. Instead, obesity rates are connected to the types of foods (and quantities thereof) that people are consuming. If you eat 2,000 calories in a day and burn 2,000 calories, you’ll maintain your weight. It doesn’t really matter when you get those calories – and so the old saying of “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper” can finally be put to rest.
But a word of caution: The findings of these studies don’t serve as a green light to eat whatever we want late at night. It doesn’t mean that the bag of Oreo cookies becomes a good late-night option. When eating late at night, there is a tendency to snack mindlessly on unhealthy foods while watching TV – that’s not what these studies support. But eating your healthy and balanced dinner a bit later is perfectly fine.
The bottom line: Focus your efforts on the quality and quantity of what you eat more then when you eat it.