Eating after 8pm


The Equinox Tier 4 training staff answers the myth of eating after 8pm!

People are always so confused by this topic.  For me, it’s a simple one.  I have people eat every three hours from the time they get up, until the time they go to bed.  If they’re eating after 8pm, that’s ok.  It all depends on WHAT they’re eating, not on what time the clock says it is in a certain 24 hour period.  Your body does not know it’s evening and you’re not going to be very active soon.  You need to fuel for your needed caloric intake in small, frequent feedings.
If you’ve eaten your allotment of 2500 (or whatever your number is) between 8am and 5pm, then the truth is your meals have been too big to begin with and you need some help with meal planning and self control.
Work on your frequency of smaller meals and ignore the clock, other than to eat every three hours.
I like to keep things simple. If you are hungry then eat – whatever time of day. Eat to the point that you aren’t hungry anymore not to the point that you’re stuffed. Simple.
This question can be broken into two parts, or two types of fitness minded individuals:

1) If someone is trying to lose weight, should they eat after 8 pm? Sure, as long as it’s high quality and nutrient dense foods (insert any green vegetable here).  Too many people think that in order to lose weight, they must starve themselves.  This is an outdated concept.  If you’re hungry after 8 pm, drink some water and eat some veggies.  Your body will appreciate that.
2) If someone is trying to bulk up and gain muscle, I would recommend some type of protein shake before bed.
Both of these individuals should avoid any type of sugar as we want to teach our body to utilize fat while we sleep, not spend time burning away the sugar from the 3 scoops of chocolate ice cream they ate while watching The Bachelorette.
Nutrient timing is very important. Your body goes into a response mode whenever stimulus is applied. Treating your body as a machine, the system always needs fuel, even while you sleep. There is no specific significance with 8pm. If you workout at 6pm or later you’re still in debt to the system so you need to bring nutrients to the system. The important part comes with WHAT you’re taking in. I still try to stick to the mantra ‘eat every 2-3hrs’ and I usually have a protein/fat meal before bed. I want my metabolism working as often as possible throughout the day so it won’t slow into storage mode. I want it to break the food down take what nutrients it needs and get the rest out! Eating this way helps your internal musculature get its workout as well. What most people don’t realize is working out is a small percentage of the overall calorie burn you get for the day, your body doing it’s normal functioning is where the true majority of calories are used. Think about it this way as well: Fat is a sustainable longer duration of calorie usage, protein is a rebuilding source, and carbohydrates are a quick source of energy. So before bed or at times where you don’t need a quick source of energy maybe keep the carbs lighter. You need ALL three macronutrients so use them wisely!Jason:
Although a calorie is not a calorie, at the end of the day it all comes down to energy balance.  Calories in versus calories out.  Therefore, I would say it depends on whether you have met your calories needs for the day based on your resting metabolic rate and the amount of activity you performed.  If you haven’t, eat something, even if it is after8pm.  If you have, then hold off.

Overall, you should focus on an eating strategy that works best for you.  Late night eating can be difficult for some in regards to fighting cravings.  For those people, I would consider looking at your calorie intake before the evening approaches.  I would wager the food intake during the day is far too low and the temptation to over eat at night is fueled by your body’s need for calories.