If you’re trying to lose weight, you may want to stop eating in front of the TV at night. A recent study presented at the European and International Conference on Obesity adds to the growing evidence that when you eat can matter almost as much as what you eat.
Researchers found that the average adult consumes nearly 40% of their daily calories after 6 pm, and hunger typically peaks at about 8 pm. Unfortunately, that’s long after you’ve probably completed most of your usual physical activities.
Late night meals and snacks also tend to involve less nutritious food choices. You’re more likely to open a bag of chips than to toss a green salad.
That means you’re likely to go to bed with elevated blood sugar, which leads to storing more calories as body fat and increasing your risk of diabetes. Plus, digesting heavy meals can disrupt your sleep, causing an increase in appetite hormones and more weight gain.
Breaking the cycle will help you to eat healthier and slim down.
Try these suggestions for changing your eating schedule to one that supports your health.
How to Eat More of Your Daily Calories During the Earlier Parts of the Day:
- Change your bedtime. Do you skip breakfast because you run out of time? Go to bed earlier so you can avoid the rush and wake up feeling refreshed.
- Drink water. You lose about one liter of water due to breathing and perspiring each night. Rehydrating will make you feel more alert and stimulate your appetite.
- Go outside. Morning light gives you energy too. Make breakfast more appealing by working out outdoors first and eating on your balcony.
- Choose delicious foods. If you think cereal and milk is boring, try less conventional options. Eat grilled fish or black bean soup for the first meal of the day.
- Make it convenient. A nutritious breakfast can be simple. Heat up leftovers from last night’s dinner. Prepare the ingredients for a smoothie the night before and store it in your refrigerator.
- Stop for lunch. You’ll be more productive if you leave your desk for lunch. Pack a balanced meal you can bring with you. Browse online to find nearby restaurants with healthy takeout menus.
- Carry snacks. Keep a cooler in your car filled with healthy treats. Put them in your desk drawer too. Smart choices include nuts, string cheese, high protein cereals, and cut vegetables.
How to Cut Back on Late Day Calories:
- Plan your menu. Decide what you’re going to eat in advance. That way you’ll be less likely to accidentally binge on pizza or a whole pint of ice cream.
- Cook at home. Making your own meals lets you control the ingredients. Restaurant fare usually has more fat, salt, and sugar.
- Limit portions. Serve meals on individual plates instead of family style bowls that encourage additional helpings. Buy single-serving snacks or take out 2 cookies instead of bringing the whole bag into the TV room.
- Leave the table. Lingering around the dinner table may extend your eating time. Go to another room or clear away the dishes if you want to talk.
- Focus on protein. Your body uses protein more effectively if you spread it out throughout the day instead of eating most of it at dinner. For evening snacks, a little protein will help you to feel full and stabilize your blood sugar.
- Brush your teeth. Try to stop eating at least 2 hours before bed. Brushing your teeth may remind you that the kitchen is closed until morning.
Knowing when to eat can make losing weight and eating a nutritious diet easier. Enjoy a hearty breakfast and lunch and lighten up on dinner and evening snacks with these strategies.