Midnight Snacking | What It’s Doing To Your Body

We all get those cravings in the middle of the night just before you hit the sack and we’ve all tried the heed the warnings that late-night snacking is not good for you. But, the sound of your stomach growling and the clenching will eventually get you to head straight to the fridge to dig some sort of food out to satiate the hunger. Is it really that bad for you?

In a nutshell, YES! 

Hunger at night is all about science. 

Let’s go back in time, to a 2014 study, when a team of researchers carried out some studies on a group of volunteers. What did they learn? 

They learned that their volunteers were always hungriest at night, irrelevant of the time they woke up, how much they ate through the day, or when they had their last meal. What was even more interesting was that the volunteers always craved sugary, fatty, and carb filled foods; they were never after veggies, fruits, or whole grains. 

Truth: people want food for so many reasons, it could be out of boredom, or it could be that your body is missing some nutrients. Another truth: if you’re eating a lot of junk food, sweets, or carbs, you’re literally setting your body up to have an sugar crash, in other words, you’re setting yourself up to have the late-night cravings. 

Truth: Your body releases a hormone called cortisol; this hormone controls when your body releases blood sugars from your liver, which could be the reason for the late night binging. Normally, your cortisol levels drop at night, and if you’re staying up way past your bedtime your body starts to release more cortisol; in turn, making your tummy grumble, growl, and beg for food. 

Truth: by depriving yourself of food throughout your day, you’re likely to be after an unhealthy snack at night. Many of us know that feeling of trying our best to stick to our diets through the day, but it almost always ends up with us messing it all up at night, and raiding the kitchen. Why? 

By not having the recommended amount of nutrition, you deprive your body to the point that it begs you for food at the end of the day. 

Is it as bad as people say it is? 

Yes! Snacking at night does a lot more than just make you gain weight, like acid reflux. 

There have been countless studies on late-night binge eating, and a common finding is that the calories you eat in the wee hours of the morning get stored as fat. Think about animals for a moment; they store food for the winter, for a time when food is scarce. Our bodies evolved to store food as fat similarly to storing food for the winter; which is what helped the humans of the past survive through times of starvation. Today, starvation is very far from common, especially with all the fast food joints we have on nearly every street corner. 

How can you reboot your body to get hungry at the right time? 

You know you have a problem with kitchen raids in the middle of the night, how can you stop it from happening over and over again? 

The answer is simple but implementing the answer will take you time to get it right. You’ll have to understand your lifestyle and adjust it accordingly. 

So, let’s work with two different examples: 

  • Someone who sleeps at 10 P.M. 
  • Someone who stays up late. 

Myth: Don’t eat past 6 - 7 P.M. 

Truth: It all depends on when you sleep. 

So, for the person that sleeps at 10 P.M, it is very logical for them to have their dinner at 6 P.M and they won’t wake up starving at midnight. But, for the person that stays up late, it’s not logical for them to eat at 6 P.M, because come midnight they’ll head to the kitchen to find something to eat. 

Solution: Try to eat a few hours before you head to bed, don’t deprive yourself of food for hours before you go to sleep. Otherwise, you’ll be up at silly o’clock for something to eat. 

Still going to a snack? 

What if you’ve made these changes, but for some reason, you just can’t get to bed without eating something first? 

Just be mindful of what you’re eating. Try to eat something that is between 150 - 200 calories and high in protein, and try to cut these added calories throughout your day, so that you still have the recommended amount. 

If you need something to eat before bedtime, why not try having some yogurt instead of something fatty and sugary. You’ll feel better in the morning that’s for sure. 

Are you struggling with midnight snacking or did you struggle with midnight snacking? If so, how did you fix your problem?