There is a ton of talk around the interwebs about what to eat before bed, what not to eat before bed, how soon to eat before bed, how soon to not eat before bed, and what food you should be snuggling up with while you’re in bed. But as it relates to the issue at hand, lets just focus on the question that is going to get you the most bang for your buck: What not to eat before bed.
You hear this all the time, especially from the weight watchers and slim fasters…
“If you eat after 7pm; your body will just store it as fat”
Here’s the thing: When it comes to fat loss there is only one factor that reigns as king and is responsible for a majority of your results. That king is calories. The primary factor in fat loss is calories in vs calories out…its simple math. If you are burning more calories per day than you are putting down the hatch, then you are going to lose weight generally. There are sources of calories that can accelerate that process though. For instance, its the reason a fat shredder diet that is high in protein works so well…your body burns more calories processing protein than it does other forms of macronutrients. Also, not all calories are created equal. Some types of foods can have different hormonal effects and can thwart your fat loss efforts.
But in general, it doesnt matter when you eat those calories so long as your intake is less than your output of calories in any given 24 hours period of time. Well…24 hours is the easiest way to calculate intake vs output to know if you should be making progress.
Since Eating Before Bed IS Safe…Now What?
So now that we can agree that for most people, calories in vs calories out is a good philosophy so long as your not using it as an excuse to eat a double western bacon cheeseburger meal everyday, and call it good cuz you’re under your maintenance intake for the day.
I am not going to get into the deep science of it, so I am going to keep it simple since thats what makes sense to me. Plus I dont feel like typing and looking up a bunch of scientific words to make you think I’m smart…
Here goes! Within the first few hours of going to sleep, your body is at its highest production of a chemical call Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Its what old dudes take to get back in the game, lol. Its also why body builders put such a high emphasis on rest. This is when your muscles do a majority of their growing.
One of the biggest enemies of HGH is insulin. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use. Insulin helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high. Insulin and growth hormone play antagonist roles against one another. When one is elevated, the other will be low.
So when you have that bowl of lucky charms, or cinnamon toast crunch, or pop tarts because you’re all about that IIFYM lifesyle…right before you go to bed, you’re doin your guns a disservice.
Here is my general rule of thumb on eating before bed
I try not to eat more than 25g of carbohydrates within 30 minutes of going to bed. I dont always follow that rule 100% of the time, but its a general guideline that I follow most the time so that when I do hit the sack, I know the growth hormone that is released will be effective and not fighting against insulin levels.
Protein for GAINS! Researchers in the Netherlands have shown that consuming 40 grams of casein post-exercise, but within 30 minutes of going to bed, resulted in greater muscle protein synthesis. More recently, a study in the Journal of Nutrition showed a that a protein supplement (27.5 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.1 grams of fat) ingested before sleep led to an increase in muscle mass and strength during a 12-week resistance-training program, If you’re rockin one of Tony Horton’s P90X workouts…this is some golden nugget info right here!
And if you’ve just scrolled down this far without reading and you dont feel like reading, lol…here is a video explaining it all!