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TOPIC: Eating after 6 pm

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September 8, 2012 10:16 AM
The title says it all. What's your opinion, and what's the science behind this?

Let's just say that I have a stubborn friend who is sticking to her "can't eat dinner if it's past 6 pm" (or any other time, just when there is a set number of hours before sleep or something). Her net calories are too low (below 1200) because of this. She has just started incorporating some teeny-tiny snacks after that time but is that enough? Is this rule a real reason to go through such trouble?

I personally think what you put in matters more than when you put it in. Of course, midnight snacking is also not a good idea but still. The rule frustrates me and I would really like to know what's your experience with this.
September 8, 2012 10:20 AM
I don't see why it would matter what time you eat... calories can't tell time...
September 8, 2012 10:24 AM
I've always heard that your body starts shutting down for the night about 6pm, but in all honesty, I eat up until 10pm and am still losing weight. I think it's your own personal time clock that it varies on. But that's my opinion.
September 8, 2012 10:25 AM
Rubbish..I *always* eat after 6. My dinner is usually around 7 or such. Then I snack after exercising. Has not stopped my weight loss.
September 8, 2012 10:26 AM
I eat all the time past 8... 9... sometimes 10... lol. as someone else said, calories can't tell time.
September 8, 2012 10:26 AM
i hope there is no difference... but i will soon be finding out... starting a new job next week and it will lead to me eating dinner after 10 pm..
as stated before .. calories cant tell time. hope that is true.
September 8, 2012 10:27 AM
I've researched this almost obsessively, there isn't much research to back up the after 6pm rule form what I've seen, however I think it's sensible not to eat too late, or like, mid-night snack out of common sense since you're sleeping and you're body is pretty dormant really.
Not 100% on this, but I'm sure it's fine to eat after 6, the night is still young after all!
September 8, 2012 10:27 AM
I think there is a relationship to metabolism and what you eat when you eat it. When you sleep, isn't your metabolism lower than when you are awake?

I have seen some good arguments that eating your larger meals when you more active during the day can be beneficial for losing weight.

Calories may not tell time, but your metabolism surely does....
Edited by Drussander On September 8, 2012 10:28 AM
September 8, 2012 10:32 AM
Will turn you into a gremlin, but only if it is after 6 PM Greenwich Mean Time.
September 8, 2012 10:32 AM
Garbage.... Your body does not have a set timeline of when you must eat your calories... The only thing you have to do is make sure you are hitting your caloric intake and getting in your set Macro's... beyond that if you want to eat at 2 in the morning (and have no problem with acid reflux,etc.) then eat... I have lost 311 lbs. taking a 400-500 calorie snack to bed with me every night.... Best of Luck
Edited by CyberEd312 On September 8, 2012 10:33 AM
September 8, 2012 10:37 AM
I have a cut-off time of two hours before I go to bed for both eating and drinking. It just helps me sleep better: My sleep is more sound and I don't need to get up in the middle of the night. What does that have to do with weight-loss/health? I was reading in The Weight of the Nation that prelim studies show that good sleep seems to have a positive effect on resetting certain hormone levels that regulate hunger and saiety, and vice-versa: that poor or restless sleep upsets the balance of those same hormones. Nothing absolutely proven of course; but it certainly doesn't hurt to get a good night's sleep ;-)
September 8, 2012 10:41 AM
You can continue to eat as long as you're conscious and it won't make a darned bit of difference to your weight loss as long as you stay within your calorie goal.

You may need to stop eating a few hours before bed if you find you get heartburn or your sleep is disturbed going to bed on a full stomach, but again, it doesn't influence your weight loss.
Edited by 126siany On September 8, 2012 10:41 AM
September 8, 2012 10:43 AM
timing is irrelevant. nothing wrong with snacking at midnight either.
September 8, 2012 10:44 AM
Timing is entirely irrelevant.
September 8, 2012 10:45 AM
Calories can't tell time. The reason why this whole "don't eat after 6" thing started was because a lot of people got home, ate dinner (at 5), then obsessively snacked in front of the t.v. (computer, whatever). Incorporating the "don't eat after 6" stopped people from snacking, then they would lose weight and be all "omg! my metabolism must slow down at night while I sleep!".

If it feels better for YOU to not eat after 6, fine, don't. But don't do it (or rather tell your friend not to do it) just because they believe that myth.

Edit: past tense is awesome.
Edited by PayneAS On September 8, 2012 10:46 AM
September 8, 2012 10:46 AM
I agree with most of the above. Unless you get heartburn or have trouble sleeping with a full tummy, when you eat has nothing to do with losing weight. It can however, help you to keep within your daily calorie allowance. Would not work for me as I eat about half my calories from 6pm onwards.
September 8, 2012 10:48 AM
I've never eaten dinner before 6pm! (Ok, I may have done when I was 3.) I even eat at 2am which is a nuisance for logging because I leave one tab on "MFP/Food" and just click add so it adds to tomorrow's (today's) >10pm Snack list. explode

And I hate going to bed hungry.
Edited by darrensurrey On September 8, 2012 10:49 AM
September 8, 2012 10:52 AM
I always have a snack in the evening. I listen to my body. I log it all. And I'm losing fat & building muscle! :D
September 8, 2012 10:58 AM
Meal timing makes no difference other then preference. Here is a great post with science included:
September 8, 2012 10:58 AM
I think it's more about what time you actually go to bed... If you stop eating about two hours prior to bed time and allow food time to digest prior to sleep when your metabolic functions slow so that your body begin its restorative processes. Also anybody who has reflux issues should always practice this to avoid reflux during sleep . Calories may not be able to tell time but your body shifts into a different mode during sleep and doesn't process fuel the way it does during waking hours.
September 8, 2012 11:00 AM
I lost 125lbs and didn't give a hoot what hours in which I ate.
It's an old wives tale.
September 8, 2012 11:01 AM
The time doesn't matter, calories do. I was in grad school and working when I started trying to lose weight, so "dinnertime" was 11pm before I passed out.
September 8, 2012 11:06 AM

Calories may not tell time, but your metabolism surely does....


Yes you may be sleeping but you are still alive. The simple process of being alive uses a surprising amount of calories.

There is evidence that in lean individuals, sleeping metabolic rate can even be HIGHER than resting metabolic rate. (

There is simply no evidence to support the idea that eating after 6pm (within your calorie allowance) is detrimental to fat loss.

Eating after 6pm certainly doesn't seem to be bothering the 1000's of people losing weight with the leangains system, when most or all of their calories are eating in the evening. Total calories/macros is what matters.
Edited by Hendrix7 On September 8, 2012 11:15 AM
September 8, 2012 11:06 AM

Nope she is fine. She owns her body not you. Let her be.

If you have a lot of body fat reserves you would be surprised at how little you can eat (unless you have emotional eating issues or disorders). The leaner you get the less your body has to draw from and then you have to taper up your calories. There is no such thing as starvation mode for women over 12% body fat or men over 6% body fat. I am a living breathing example of that. I went from obese to now under 12% BF and I've maintained for one year and built muscle the whole time. You don't BUILD muscle in starvation mode, so I proved everyone wrong.

Do I look like I'm in starvation mode:

Let people decide for themselves. If you are strong, don't get sick, are not fatigued, have great workouts (I Do!) then why can't you just listen to your own body and decide. If I'm not hungry I don't eat.

I did exactly what your friend is doing when I started out on my weight loss 3 years ago and it WORKED for me.

You are not very smart are you?
September 8, 2012 11:07 AM
If I didn't eat after 6 PM I would never eat dinner.


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