Sometimes those late night munchies could just hit the spot, but have you ever thought about what your body might feel like if you stopped eating at night for a week or more? Actually, you might feel a lot different. If you stop eating before bed, let's say four to five hours, or so, you might improve your health and wellness, as well as digestion over time. With these benefits, you might even sleep better, too.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on getting enough sleep each night and reaping those benefits. If you're eating too close to bedtime, it can interfere with your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep, soundly. So, it might be worth putting down the bag of chips and sipping some water instead to fill your belly and not mess with your digestion. If your belly feels too full, it can be painful, or it can cause some unfortunate bowel movements, right at the most inopportune moment. Of course, if you're starving, having that snack could help you get to bed, but if it's just mindless snacking, perhaps due to boredom or TV viewing, it's a bad habit that could definitely be eliminated. Here are 7 surprising things that can happen to your body if you stop eating within four or five hours of bed.
1. More Stable Blood Sugar
According to Sarah Asay, RD at bistroMD over interview with Bustle, when you cut out processed, sugary foods (often the food of choice late at night) before bed, you'll have more stable blood sugar as you sleep and avoid those crazy spikes that could make it harder to fall asleep or sleep straight through the night. "Through the night your blood sugar will be more stable, allowing for a more restful sleep and you’ll wake feeling refreshed," Asay says.
2. Better Feeling Come Morning
Asay says that you might feel different, even better, the next morning, if you stop eating too late at night. This is especially true if the foods you're eating are sweets and fattening, greasy goods, as those can make you look and feel bloated in the morning. By cutting it out, you'll probably feel less uncomfortable bloating.
3. Better Sleep
"Your digestion works poorly at night. Thus eating a heavy meal for dinner or a late night snack will overstrain your digestion," says Nutrition Specialist at Freeletics, Katharina Kaiser over email with Bustle. "Watch out: raw food is especially difficult to digest in the evening! The consequences are bloating and a restless night’s sleep and it is scientifically proven that bad sleep leads to excess weight in the long-term," Kaiser adds.
4. Increase In Muscle
"Your body clock also regulates the excretion of your hormones. Specific hormones are released in the evening and night. One is for example melatonin, which makes you sleepy, and another is the hormone somatotropin, known as a growth hormone, which will help you with gaining muscle mass," explains Kaiser. "The crucial factor with somatotropin is that its secretion will increase if you don’t eat anything for 12 hours. Thus, it is especially important to skip the after-dinner snack," Kaiser says.
5. Better A.M. Workout
While this only applies if you skip eating before the workout, and head to the gym first thing in the A.M., sports dietitian Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD explained over interview with Prevention that that fasting period could help you burn more fat during your workouts.
6. Less Inflammation
According to Courtney Peterson, PhD, assistant professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center over interview with Prevention, taking that fasting time to repair muscles and lower inflammation in the body could be super beneficial. By forgoing that late night snack, you'll give your body the time it needs to feel restored.
7. More Stable Hunger Levels The Next Day
As explained to Thrive Market, holistic nutritionist Michelle Pellizzon explained that not eating for those hours before bed will actually decrease ghrelin, the hunger hormone, the following day, making you have greater control over your appetite and hunger levels.
If you can forgo that sweet, late-night snack and hit the sheets earlier, you might be able to reap some of these awesome body benefits.