When to Stop Eating Before Bed

What should you eat before bed, and how much? We’re taking a closer look today.

 

How long before bed should you stop eating? It’s a common question, and it gets answered wrong most of the time. Answers that I have heard in the past are: you shouldn’t eat anything after 6:00 p.m., no carbs after dark, and so on.

Proper nutrition is needed all day, and the last meal of the day is no exception. You should already be eating every two to four hours in order to increase your metabolism and maintain your lean muscle tissue. Skipping meals hurts your metabolism and your fitness goals. Whether you are trying to lose fat or gain mass, you simply can’t lose body fat or put muscle on by skipping meals.

So why would someone skip the last meal of the day? Low-calorie fad diets don’t work. You lose weight on them, sure, but it’s unhealthy, and as soon as you go off the diet the weight comes pouring back on.

Skipping the last meal of the day is a great way to slow your metabolism down and put body fat on. You could eat dinner at 6:00 p.m., go to bed at 10:30 p.m., wake up at 7:00 a.m. and eat breakfast at about 7:30 a.m. That’s 13.5 hours since your last meal. Your body is starving! When it starves the next time you feed it, you have a greater chance of converting what you eat into fat.

You still burn calories and fat while you sleep, but not from skipping the last meal of the day. The number of calories burned is not as great as when we are awake and moving around, but it still occurs. The most important factor for this is eating frequent meals throughout the day, including before bed.

The last meal is not as important as breakfast or your post-workout meal, but it is just as important as all the other meals of the day. Most people eat the wrong things and that’s where some of these myths have come from about eating before bed.

You want to focus on foods that have a slow digestibility and are healthy for you. Casein protein, cottage cheese, low-fat cheeses, whey protein, and natural peanut butter are good choices.

"The pre-bedtime meal is important for staying out of a catabolic state."

 

Healthy fats would be natural peanut butter, nuts, other natural nut butters, and seeds. For carbohydrates, the best choice would be green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, or kale. Other vegetables are also good, however, avoid potatoes. You can consume some complex carbohydrates like oats or whole-wheat products, but calories can add up quickly, so watch the serving size.

 

The key to eating before bed is not overdoing it. You should never feel full after this meal, and you should drink plenty of water with it. The water will actually help fill you up some and ensure you don’t go to bed dehydrated.

How long before bed should you eat? Anywhere from 15 minutes to 90 minutes is a good rule of thumb. It will be a matter of preference, really. Switch it around to see what works best for you.

How much should you eat? Again, this will differ from person to person. It all is a matter of your goals and how well you have managed your calories throughout the day. But the general rule of thumb is that you want this meal to be one of your smallest in terms of calories.

The pre-bedtime meal is very important to stay out of a catabolic state (muscle and tissue breakdown). It’s important to keep the metabolism running high so you can get out and attack the next day.

If you have any questions for us, don’t hesitate to reach out and give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

 



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