If I eat a big meal right before I go to bed, will I gain weight?
Yikes, what a loaded question. This is because the time just before you fall asleep is complicated in the sense that your body is riddled with changing hormone levels, which in turn affects how your body will process the food you’re about to consume.
Another reason it’s complicated is because eating right before you go to bed can do one of two things: increase the overall calorie count for the day (gaining weight), or throw off your meal cycle. If you’re hungry enough to eat a big meal right before bed, you’ve likely already thrown off the meal cycle.
Meal cycling is a large factor in weight maintenance. If your body gets used to a certain time when it’s going to eat, the hormones and enzymes will all be in line ready to help digest the nutrients and distribute them properly.
It’s kind of like if you have a factory and all of the materials show up when the workers are off duty – it’s not going to work as efficiently as if the workers were there to distribute the materials when they were delivered.
When you add back in the hormone factor to late night binging, it can really throw off the usual way of things. Melatonin (a hormone that tells the brain to shut-‘er-down), an already persnickety hormone in Alaskan winters, can be even more impacted by a blood sugar spike.
So what should I do if I get really hungry late at night?
Get a light snack to hold you over until the morning, like a granola bar or piece of fruit. Then when morning rolls around, eat a well-rounded breakfast. Eat a large lunch at regular lunchtime, and eat a normal sized dinner at dinnertime.
Resetting your meal cycles can be difficult simply because of weird class scheduling, professors who won’t let you eat during class or being around people who don’t eat at normal times. But it is truly important if you want to get and keep your body on track.