Cookies before bed, sandwiches at midnight, a handful of chips when you come home after a party. Nearly everyone knows these late-night snacks can pack on the pounds. Even Oprah says she doesn't eat after 7:30 in the evening [source: Oprah]. But does eating late really cause weight gain?
The perception is that eating before bed (or during a midnight voyage to the kitchen island) is a major culprit when it comes to weight gain. The food takes longer to digest, the calories are less likely to be used as energy and, therefore, a larger waistline (or bottom line) is lurking in your future. Fortunately, say researchers, this simply isn't the case. The body's metabolism never stops working, even during sleep. And, as for calories, they have the same effect whether you eat them at noon or midnight. If you eat too many calories you'll gain weight, no matter what time of day you eat them.
Researchers do recommend eating a big breakfast, though. By power-loading your calorie intake with a nutritious (and sizable) breakfast, you simply won't feel as hungry the rest of the day. And this can lead to smaller portion sizes and more nutritional food choices, a change in behavior that could impact weight more than the timing of meals and snacks [source: University of Arkansas Medical Sciences].