Put the Brakes on Nighttime Overeating
For many, nighttime is the right time to overeat
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
Reviewed by Ann Edmundson, MD
When is the absolute worst time to overeat, metabolically speaking? Many experts agree that it's nighttime, when our bodies have the lowest need for calories.
Yet "in America, we eat more during dinner than any other meal," says U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher Shanthy Bowman, PhD.
This is especially true for those of us who are overweight, according to a recent national USDA survey. It found that overweight adults tended to eat significantly more calories than normal-weight adults at dinnertime (while eating just a few more calories at breakfast and lunch).
Dinner isn't the only problem, either. While afternoon is the most popular time to snack, evening snacks are in the No. 2 position. According to a recent study from the University of Texas at El Paso, snacking at night makes it all too easy to overeat. That's because eating late in the day may be less satisfying than eating the same amount of food earlier in the day.
"Intake in the late night lacks satiating value and can result in greater overall daily intake" of calories, says the study's lead researcher, John de Castro, PhD, chairman of the psychology department at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Facts About Evening Eating
Over the years, De Castro's research into meal sizes, meal patterns, and calorie distribution has turned up some other findings about evening eating: