Should you stop eating after 6pm?

Posted 392 Days Ago in: Nutrition

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There's a lot of buzz around restricting your diet (and calories) by having your last meal at 6pm, and then nothing but water afterwards, but does it really work?

The internet and the daily gossip among your circle of friends is awash with dietary advice and articles being posted that promote fads and single out critical moments during your day that are hampering your weight loss journey…

And one of these is whether or not you should be eating after 6pm, suggesting that eating in the evening is placing your body in a state where it is counterproductive to fat burning.

But is it true?

A brief search of scholarly journals online pulls up nothing of the sort, but perhaps we still need to dig deeper into where this came about and why it is widely accepted to be true. 

The main target of the discussion is carbs. It’s a commonly held belief that carbs are bad but many people aren’t even aware that fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates as well.

In order to understand this restriction, we also need to understand what the various carbohydrates are.

They fall into the categories of: fibrous, starchy and sugary.

It is an important differentiation to make because putting all the carbs together and labelling them as junk and counterproductive to weight loss is damaging to how we understand food.

Briefly; starchy carbohydrates are your breads, pasta and flour, fibrous carbohydrates are your vegetables and whole grain products, and sugary carbohydrates are the soft drinks, junk food, and sweets that you should be cutting out if your goal is to live a healthy life and lose weight in the process.

So, does this mean that we can eat healthy food after 6pm? Or is what we need to be focused on restricting ourselves to not eating at all between this time, until we wake up for breakfast, while only consuming water. 

A quick look at a variety of articles that suggest this point to how it is indeed meant to be completely restrictive. The thinking behind it is two-fold; one: when you eat, your insulin levels go up and this is then correlated with gaining weight, to counteract this you should fast at night and you won’t lose weight, two: by restricting your calories you will have a deficit and, as a result, will lose weight.

While both of these do make sense, what is equally as important is the awareness of your calorie consumption throughout the day. Logically, you will lose weight if you eat healthy meals during the day and exercise so that you burn more calories than you consume. In doing so, it shouldn't matter when you eat (or don’t) if you make sure to be mindful of your consumption of calories because you will be proactively burning more than you consume without the need of a fast. 

The issue with eating late at night is that it usually tends to be on foods that are processed, sugary and unhealthy for us, or leads to overeating because of the amount of calories we have consumed throughout the day. 

By keeping track of your calories and making sure to focus on the healthy aspect of foods: eating vegetables, Greek yoghurt, and nuts rather than a packet of chips and sweets, then you shouldn't be doing any harm to your diet. In fact, healthy foods can often serve to boost your metabolism and certain foods such as chocolate milk that contains casein protein will assist with muscle recovery. 

A major aspect of why this sort of restrictive diet is difficult to maintain is that because of all of our fast-paced and busy lifestyles… who is getting home before 6 regularly and has time to eat dinner before the cut off time?

It seems absurd to put such a restriction on your lifestyle where you’re trying to cram all these meals in while still having to go to the gym, work, take care of your kids, and attend to anything else you have planned for that day.

If you still feel hungry at night and are overeating, which could lead you to think that restricting yourself at night would be beneficial to losing weight, then it means that you aren’t eating enough during the day.  

And if you’re really hungry at night, don’t sweat it. Most of the time it’s what you eat that counts, not when… 

Go for the healthy alternative and avoid foods that are high in calories but will still keep you fuller for longer.

Examples include:

 

·      Lean Meat

·      Oatmeal

·      Salmon

·      Chia Seeds

·      Avocado

·      Potato

·      Wholegrain Bread

·      Berries

 

At DNAFit we believe in long-term solutions, not short-term fixes that are unsustainable and difficult to adhere to. Maintaining a balanced diet throughout the day that is focused around protein, fats, whole grain carbs and vegetables, and snacking on healthy options rather than processed foods and sweets, you will feel satiated by the time you go to bed and your body won’t be starved of the fuel that it needs to survive.

Our genetic test can be used to educate you on your "ideal diet type" in order to assist you with not only portion control but what your plate should be composed of at breakfast, lunch and dinner. This will allow you to eat according to your genes in a sustainable manner that will help you to live healthier and reach your personal health and nutrition goals. 

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