Eating late night snacks isn't that big of a deal...
Some years ago a popular notion that no eating after 7 pm was a "no-no" emerged. The concept spun itself from a simple best practice into a false-widespread ideology that eating meals late at night correlated with weight gain. Fortunately, that's not exactly true. To reign in the misconception, the first step is to understand the intentions of the No Eating After Seven rule. The purpose was to train your brain to understand that calories consumed must also be burned to maintain your weight. In theory, after 7 pm most people retire into their leisure time so that rule was addressing eating meals at times when you're least likely to be able to burn them off through normal activity. Sounds reasonable huh? Well here are the main four the issues with that line of thinking.
Issue No. 1
The first problem is that your body doesn't automatically start burning calories when you wake up and it doesn't automatically stop burning them at bed time. As long as you are alive, your body is burning calories on a continuum because burning calories is how it produces energy for all its internal processes. In fact, it's when you sleep that your body expends a fair bit of calories recovering your muscles post workout. Calorie burning is continuous.
Issue No. 2
Here's the second problem with that No Eating After Seven "best practice," your body doesn't care what time it is. Your body cares if you've eaten enough food to supply it with energy. It has a ton of jobs to do for you at any given moment, and it literally only asks you for food and rest. Therefore, if you need a minimum of 1,500 calories to support your daily activities which include everything from breathing to working, then you need to do it no matter what hour it is. There are loads of times when I check MyFitnessPal only to realize I haven't eaten enough protein for the day and will chug a shake before hopping into bed.
Issue No. 3
The third issue with the No Eating After Seven habit is that it inadvertently perpetuates the idea that you can out-burn your diet. Here's what I mean, if your body only needs 1,800 calories, but you consistently eat 2,300 calories before seven o'clock you will still gain weight.
Issue No. 4
The fourth issue is the inflexibility in injects into your diet. As I always say, for fitness to be a lifestyle it must be sustainable. Fitness must support your life, and your life must support it. If you can't manage to eat dinner before 7 pm, you shouldn't be made to feel like you're compromising your progress, because you're not. There are a million different ways to slice and dice a calorie requirement to create a new-fangled diet approach. Some people eat their maintenance calories five days a week and fast for two, some people keep it simple and eat reduced calories every day. Lastly, some people cycle their calories eating more on the days of their leg and back workouts. Some people even carb load before bed and enjoy the results of it. It's whatever works for you; there are no hard and fast rules.
Now that I've perhaps convinced you to step over to the wild side and eat a meal or snack after 7pm let's cover some good options.
Late Night Snack Ideas:
2. Greek Yogurt + Granola
3. Protein Bar
4. Frozen Berries
5. Any meal that helps you hit your macros for the day
Never forget, it's not WHEN you eat, it's how MUCH you eat. Now go snack in peace.