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If you are a late night snacker, you are more likely to gain weight. Do you work graveyard shift? Do you stay up late at night? Are you sleeping 5 hours or less a night? If the answers to these questions are yes, you are a target for weight gain.
If you are eating when you should be sleeping, you are more likely to eat “feel good,” “quick energy,” “fattening foods” like ice cream, cookies, pizza and snacks-in-a-bag. You are less likely to eat foods like fresh fruits and vegetables late at night.
Your hormones are also thrown off balance. Eating late at night can give you a hormonal and metabolic imbalance. Ghrelin, your "feed me" hormones, and leptin, your "full" hormones, can be thrown out-of-whack by late night eating. And, your metabolism will not work properly.
Late night eating can add unwanted pounds to your physique---depending on how much you eat during the entire day! Late night eating will not, in and of itself, automatically make you gain weight.
If you consistently eat more calories than you burn (caloric surplus), you will consistently gain weight and add on body fat, no matter when you eat.
If you do eat a late night dinner, think about what you have already eaten that day. This will help you stay on track with your daily caloric intake goals. So, high-fat fast food is probably not a good idea for your late night dinner! The same goes for late night snacks---it all adds up, no matter when you eat it. If you like sugary snacks, the calories can add up fast and get out of control.
Personally, I will usually eat a light late night dinner (if I happen to eat late) like tuna and a salad. And, a late night snack will be something like popcorn, nuts or fruit. For me, its easier to sleep on a "light stomach."
What about your sleeping habits? Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep each night. When you don’t get enough sleep, it causes all kinds of problems like:
1. decreased energy
2. constant cravings for sugary foods (for quick energy)
3. metabolism problems
4. stress-out feelings
5. decreased workout performance