Weight Loss
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I've read, in several threads, that people don't eat food after 6pm and am wondering about the impact of that as I frequently don't eat dinner until 7-8pm and have a bedtime snack.

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As long as your calorie intake doesn't exceed your target for the day and as long as you're eating regularly throughout the day then it doesn't matter what time you eat.   The 'no food after 6pm' can help people who have got fat by eating a lot of junk in front of the TV in the evening.  But otherwise there's nothing magic about it.


Not eating after 6pm is a good idea for anyone that is trying to lose weight, although due to many peoples lifestyles this will not work. If you do need to eat after 6pm, ensure that is low carb and high protein.

The reason for this is that your body's Metabolism slows down when it's sleeping, so it digests things slower. Carbs digest slowly even without a slowed Metabolism, so WITH the slow Metabolism, they end up not getting completely digested and end up stored as extra fat.

People who eat after 6pm tend to make bad choices as well - chips, soda, chocolate while they watch tv......my wife stopped eating food after 6pm in January of this year (along with other lifestyle changes) and managed to lose 78 lbs - living proof it assists you in weigh loss!


i always have my dinner before 7 if i can
although sometimes it's unavoidable if ive been out or whatever & i dont snack at night :)


but yeah, you need to give your body time to burn off the food you eat, and obviously you're going to be doing less exercise after 7pm than you would during the day.

= bigger breakfasts, smaller dinners

:) x

Stopping eating 3 hours before bedtime is one of Bob Greene's (Oprah's trainer) #1 tips and it does work and it does make a difference for the reasons that bleversedge stated. I used to have an evening snack of a bowl of healthy cereal not long before bed, telling myself it was better than ice cream or other bad choices. Just making that one change made a huge difference. It only takes a few days and you get out of the habit of having that "little something".

I never eat dinner before 6 pm..usually closer to 7 and I still eat another snack after that!

My final snack of the day always consists of fruit which is eaten around 9-930 pm.  My bedtime is always after the late local news 11:30 pm.

WOrks for me anyways.


It really does not matter what time you eat your food during the day. There are those who will tell you that whatever you eat past a certain time will just turn straight to fat--they are misinformed. While it is true that it's better to eat a larger breakfast first thing during the day and a light dinner, that is due to the fact you need a lot more energy early in the day than you do towards the end. A light dinner will probably also make it easier to fall asleep, as heavy foods tend to make it more difficult to fall asleep in the first place.

However, the food you eat late at night will STILL be digested, and the calories will still be used. You do not stop burning calories because you are sleeping. One also has to remember that you burn XXXX many calories over a 24 hour period--including the time you've spent sleeping. So if you burn 2400 calories in a 24 hour period, only had 1200 by 6pm and had another 500 calories at 9 because that's when you got to eat your dinner, you still have a 700 calorie deficit by the time that 24 hour period is up. Which means you will lose weight, even if the scale doesn't reflect it tomorrow morning.

There are a number of things that affect the scale on a day-to-day basis. Food you ate at night will not turn into extra fat as long as you run a calorie deficit or eat at maintanence level. How much sodium you had in that last meal may cause some water retention if you didn't drink enough water to flush it out, for example. Yesterday I was up to 203 after seeing 201 for a straight week. I ate late the night before, and had pizza and cake on top of it. This morning, I was back to 201. It appears that over the course of the week, I wouldn't have gained weight at all, and I routinely have a snack before bed time, as I often get home around 9:30 and the last time I ate was at 6:30, and I'm starving. I may even see a .5lb drop tomorrow morning. I'm kind of hoping that I do.

When you eat your food does not matter. How large of a calorie deficit you run before going to sleep does.

I really disagree with this idea that you can't eat at a certain time.  I have lost 60 pounds to date and my calculated calorie defect matches up perfectly with my weight loss.  So, in my body, it is absolutely false given that I eat an ice cream bar about 30 minutes every night before bed (it's my daily treat!).  Plus, if I tried to tell myself not to eat after a certain time I could I want to eat more and would probably end up binging.  I think the most important thing to do is think smart and do what is best for you.

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It's about 5:30...and all I've eaten so far is a bagel.
I'd say the majority of food I do eat is after 6, and it hasn't negatively affected my weight.
I also don't go to bed until around 4. I'm sure the time that you actually go to bed is a factor.

If you're in bed by 7, then I wouldn't eat at 6...

Another reason I've heard it suggested is because some people aren't hungry for breakfast in the AM and breakfast is crucial to jump starting your metabolism.  I understand if you stop eating earlier in the evening, you're more likely to be hungry for breakfast when you wake up.

So, do what is right/feels best for you as long as you're getting balanced meals and enough calories!

Haven't there been studies that show you burn more cals sleeping than sitting and watching TV?  If that's true why do people keep saying your metabolism slows so much at night?

I have read in Men's Health that newer studies show that people burn calories in their sleep too.  I would think the only advantage of eating before six is for the the food to go through your system and not be trapped in your intestines if you are doing a morning weigh in.  I think that if you keep your calorie counts where they need to be and eat small meals you should be fine.  I would think that eating after six would be better than a bedtime of 11pm and going 5 hours and purposefully not eating anything and consuming the majority of your calories in the morning and midday.  I do think there is a greater chance of burning calories during the day due to activity.  I work a rotating shift and I am going to eat when I am hungry and as long as I have calories.  I try to eat around 200 - 450 calories at a time.  I Eating in the morning jumpstarts your metabolism because you have been sleeping with no intake for hours.  It is a good Idea to eat after sleeping because you don't want your body to go into starvation mode.  Keep the small meals coming and stay within your calorie counts and you will be fine.


I don't pay much attention to when I eat and I frequently eat after 6 pm. My weight loss has been exactly what I expect, so I can't give much credence to the idea about not eating later. If the metabolism slows down, that means you were burning higher earlier in the day and you NEED the cals to make sure you don't have too large a deficit. For example, if you burn 2200/day and are lightly active, with a planned deficit of 1200, you might burn 1900 by 6 pm; the other 300 will burn between 6 pm and midnight. If you only ate 900 cals before 6 pm, you still need the 300 to "even out" the extra burn from your more active times.

Also, remember it's about estimates and averages. I burn an average of 80 cals/hour when sedentary. When I hike, I can burn another 600 in one hour, plus there is probably some short-term "higher burn" for a couple of hours after I exercise. So by 6 pm, I've burn a much higher percentage of my daily cals than I will from 6 to midnight. But I don't run home and eat 600 cals (ok, sometimes I do, if it is late and I still need 'em). I eat throughout the day to keep that metabolism going.

Plus, think about it: when I wake up, I've already "averaged" 480-640 cals burned, just by sleeping from, say, midnight to 8 am. By noon, I'm at an "aveage" of 960 cals burned, but I've only eaten about 300-400 at that point. Over the course of 24 hours/7 days a week, 365 days a year, it evens out. If I consistently eat less than I burn, I lose weight. That's what matters.

I hope this helps!

It doesn't matter how late you last eat as your body continues to burn calories while you're asleep.  For a sedentary person, the majority of calories burned come from things like heart beating, lungs breathing, brain functioning (which still happens while you're asleep), etc.  I don't know where the idea that your metabolism stops overnight started, but it's blatantly wrong.  Sure, it slows down a bit - partly from lack of motion, partly because it will have been a while since you've eaten - but it keeps going.

Also, the idea that "incompletely digested food just turns to fat" is wrong because food can't be "turned into fat" until it has been fully digested.  So, if that late night snack didn't get fully digested, it'd just sit there as undigested food.  If your body never got around to metabolizing it, eating late would actually be a great weight loss plan.  (I can imagine the marketing now!  :-))  Unfortunately, your body works on that snack at its own pace - and really doesn't care whether you ate it at 4pm or 11pm.  Now, a big snack late at night might make you heavier the next morning, but that's just the weight of the food itself and will be gone the following morning.

For some, not eating evening snacks is an effective way to control calories.  Which is great for those people.  I personally can't get to sleep if I'm really hungry so I almost always eat some sort of snack between 8pm and 11pm, making sure I've budgeted for those calories.  (If not, it's herbal tea for me that night.)  I've lost 16 pounds since the end of June, so I'd say I'm proof positive that eating late isn't a death knell for weight loss as long as you're smart about it.

I eat dinner reguarly between 7 and 9 pm and ice cream regularly at 10 pm. It's factored into my daily calorie limit and I've still only lost weight. =)

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Powerlifters and people who need to make weight classes for competitions will usually stop eating early in the day the day before a meet to make their goal weight.  Of course not everyone is a powerlifter, but I bet that if you stop eating early in the day and then weigh yourself the next day, you'll be down a pound or two. 

My trainer says that it's not a good thing to have food in your guts while you're sleeping because when you sleep your body is going through its repair stage.  Having that food being digested takes away energy that your body needs to do what it does while you sleep.  Everyone's different, and everyone has a strategy. But for some, like me, eating past  7 or 8 pm isn't a good thing. 

I think if what you're doing is working, that's awesome, but if not, maybe try eating early in the evening and then stopping.  The book "Prescription for Nutritional Healing" says that many people who are obese have great success losing weight by eating all their calories before 3 pm.  That's extreme and would be really difficult, but worth a shot. 

Or maybe it wouldn't be so hard if you went to bed at, say, 5 pm.

Thanks for all the comments.  I was just curious about the magical "6pm" which  apparently isn't affecting me but I eat my heavier meals earlier in the day.

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