I’ve experienced it time and time again. After a long day of trying to get everything done, I finally get a chance to sit down and scarf my dinner. Next thing I know, it’s time for bed. My belly’s full, I’m happy and ready to drift off into dreamland.
Over the next several months, the days will grow shorter which means most of us will consume our dinners close to bedtime. This isn’t ideal. We’ve all heard the advice of not eating our last meal too late. But how many of us really abide by those rules?
If you knew the full impact of late night eating, I’m sure you’d think twice.
Eating is my favorite thing to do. It feels good to eat a satisfying meal after a long day. But timing is everything. You’ve been told to avoiding eating after six to help with weight management. I tried eating early but found it very hard to do. If you work a 9-5, you’re probably still stuck in traffic by the time the clock hits 6:00 pm.
When my career progressed, my days grew longer and I found myself often grabbing something quick to eat after 9:00 pm. Whenever I ate a meal after “normal dinner hours,” I noticed something peculiar. I woke up the next day feeling sleep deprived. All of those days of sleeping full added up. During the last few years of employment with my former employer, I aged quite a bit.
Friends who hadn’t seen me a long time would always be like…..“wow, uh, you look…..tired.” I knew exactly what that meant. It meant that my eyes were starting to sink in and that I always looked unrested. I chocked it up to the long hours and endless travel. But, I neglected to realize the impact that late night eating was having on my body.
Here’s the thing, sleeping is one of the most rejuvenating things you can do. As we sleep, our body goes into full-on repair mode. Did you know that around 90 minutes after you fall asleep, your body starts to produce human growth hormones (HGH)? HGH plays a major role in protein preservation. HGH is referred to as the “ultimate antiaging hormone” because it’s heavily involved cell growth, pair, and regeneration. Children have the highest levels of HGH while the elderly are deficient.
The other major benefit of having high levels of HGH is rapid fat burning. Not only does HGH keep you looking younger looking, it helps you stay slim & toned. Some pay big bucks for prescription HGH just to experience the benefits of youth once again. But we don’t need purchase synthetic shots because we can easily make our own.
We produce human growth hormone in multiple ways. One of the most powerful is by sleeping. It’s something we do every day. Within the first couple of hours of sleep, your body generates high levels of the youth hormone. But, when you sleep with a full stomach (or shortly after eating) your body is primarily focused on digestion (which requires lots of energy).
Basically, when we eat 1-2 hours before bed, we’re robbing ourselves of our HGH producing potential. Instead of creating ample amounts of the amazing youth hormone, it’s busy trying to break down that big ‘ol burger you just devoured.
If you’re a late-night eater, I invite you to eat dinner a litter earlier. Or, if it isn’t possible, try incorporating some light activity after eating to stimulate digestion and lower your blood sugar levels before bed.
Going to bed with high insulin levels (which happens when we eat) will rob you of the potential to burn fat while you sleep. Once insulin is released into the bloodstream, any and all fat burning activity stops! Try this experiment. Eat your last meal about 3-4 hours before bed and notice how much leaner you are when you wake up the next morning. It’s an amazing feeling to stand in the mirror and gaze at your non-bloated morning belly. I know that we can’t always schedule early evening dinners but, I beg you, please don’t make a habit of eating late night, right before bed.
Timing is everything.