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Dear Cassey: Will eating at night make me gain weight?
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May 26, 2021

Dear Cassey,

I hear everyone talking about when you should and shouldn’t eat, like not eating after 8pm, or that calories count less in the morning. I get so worried that I’m sabotaging my health by having a snack before I go to bed, or that I’m eating meals at the wrong times. Can you help? When should and shouldn’t I eat, and why?

Sincerely,

Trying to Do the Right Thing

Hey Trying,

Hopefully I can help ease your mind! I used to let myself get sooo overwhelmed by the “rules” of dieting. I was afraid of drinking my calories. Of eating “too much fruit.” And yes, of eating after a certain time of day.

I always heard that the metabolism slowed way down while we slept, so anything I ate after 7pm would just turn into “wasted calories” that would make me gain weight. Looking back, I see how that doesn’t really even make sense! I’ll tell you why 😉

WHEN you eat doesn’t matter as much as WHAT you eat.

It’s wayyyy better to spend your energy focusing on what you’re putting in your body. Overall, weight change comes down to calorie balance. And I’m talking calorie balance over time – not overnight.

The USDA and most experts will tell you that a calorie is a calorie any time of day. They don’t count more or less at certain times.

Even though you go to sleep at night, your body is still working. Which means your metabolism is still running and you are still burning calories! Yes, if you want to get technical there are some theories about blood sugar and how eating before you go to bed could increase fat storage etc., but here’s the thing – what you eat ALL DAY is still going to have more of an impact.

You’re more likely to eat unhealthy foods at night.

THIS. This is the real reason why late-night snacking might cause weight gain. When you grab a snack late at night, are you grabbing some celery or tossing a salad? Prob not. You’re more likely to dig into a bag of chips or a glorious bowl of ice cream.

Why? Because if you’re feeling snacky at night, it’s probably because you’re bored, stressed, tired, or distracted. All of these things cause cravings – and usually not for healthy stuff. Add in the likelihood that you’re eating mindlessly while watching TV, scrolling on your phone, or working (that’s me), and you’re eating a much bigger portion than you intended.

As long as you meet your energy needs, it doesn’t really matter when you eat.

Like I mentioned before, calories don’t “count more” at night, or “less” in the morning. I know it makes sense to think whatever you eat in the morning will be burned off all day while anything you eat won’t because you’re sleeping, but that’s just not exactly how it works.

It’s kinda like how you won’t gain weight the second you eat a heavy meal and you won’t put on weight on rest day. If you’re CONSISTENTLY eating more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you’re CONSISTENTLY burning more than you eat, you will lose weight.

In other words, your late night snack will only make you gain weight if it consistently sends you over your calorie needs.

If you’re hungry at night, you probably aren’t eating enough during the day

Oooh this is a good one. Wanna know a good sign that you’re UNDEReating? Being hungry at night!!

It’s super common for people to nail their diet all day long and then binge at night. And THAT is not a habit that you want to have. If this sounds familiar, the solution is simple – try eating more throughout the day! And don’t be afraid to do this. Being hungry at night is probably your body telling you that you need more. And you should listen!

What eating at night CAN do to your body.

Although calories at night don’t go “straight to your thighs,” eating at night can sabotage your goals in other ways. First, it can cause indigestion because you’re eating and then laying down soon after. Sometimes eating too close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep too. And guess what happens when you’re not getting enough sleep? You have more cravings, you’re sluggish during your workouts, and it’s easier to become stressed.

So if you notice a connection between eating late a night and poor sleep, it might help to leave a bigger window between eating and sleeping.

Hopefully, this clears things up for you! As always, I talked with my registered dietitian before writing this post and I always get my info from reputable sources. And of course it’s important to remember that everyone’s bodies work differently and it’s always best to talk to your doctor or dietitian about your needs!

PS – If you have a burning question you want to ask me, leave your questions below! I may answer it in an upcoming Dear Cassey post!

24 thoughts on “Dear Cassey: Will eating at night make me gain weight?”

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  1. Unsure says:

    Dear Cassey,

    First of all I appreciate you so much!! Not just your workouts but more importantly your inspiring personality. I’ve been following blogilates for a few years now, and it has been inspiring to see you reach your personal goals despite what the media throws your way. Keep up the good work and stay strong!!!

    I have been vegan for a couple years now, and I really enjoy this creative way of eating. However, I am reaching a plateau in my fitness goals because I find it difficult to incorporate an adequate amount of protein to build muscle. I have incorporated more resistance in my workout routine for the past several months, and I have increased my plant-based protein intake, such as beans, nuts/seeds, soy, whole grains, etc. (I avoid isolated soy protein or other protein powder isolates because they are not very affordable and also have debatable health effects.) I am beginning to feel like I may never reach my fitness goals on a vegan diet, and I am undecided if I should give it up at this point. I appreciate any input or thoughts you may have!!

    <3 <3 <3 Unsure

    1. Trippy says:

      Hey Unsure! Fellow vegan here! Not sure what your specific fit goals are, so this may be moot. But are you ensuring that you’re meeting your calorie and macro goals? IE eating enough fats and carbs, along with all the protein!

  2. Kiara says:

    Dear Cassey,
    How do you know how much exercising per week is good for you, and when are you Under/Over-Exercising?
    I started exercising more recently, now I exercise every day for 30mins-1h. But my problem is, I do not have my period for 3 months now. I tried eating healthy and not restricting myself that much (still a bit as I do not want to gain weight), yet it did not yet help. I know stress can also be a cause. But I thought maybe you could give me some advice on that.
    With love,
    Kiara

  3. Seema Gupta says:

    Dear Cassey
    How can I reduce postpartum belly fat? Though I have reduced a lot of but there is this belly flap which I am not able to get rid of.

  4. Eliana says:

    Dear Cassey,
    I have been consistently working out and trying to eat healthier for the past 6 months but I have not lost a single pound or noticed any difference to my health despite constant efforts. Any ideas?

  5. Recovering From Freshman 15 says:

    Dear Cassey,

    I just returned home after my first year at college and after visiting the doctor’s office for the annual checkup, I discovered that I have high cholesterol, specifically in LDL. I was told to eat fewer processed foods, but as a college student, it’s really hard for me to find food that is both healthy and easy to prepare, so I turned to instant ramen and other instant foods. It was even harder to find the time to work out or exercise. Is there food that I can eat that is both healthy and easy to prepare? And what kind of food should I eat to help lower my cholesterol?

    Please help,
    Recovering From Freshman 15

  6. Keerthana says:

    Hey Cassey,
    Somedays I could fly through your workouts with ease. But sometimes I feel so sluggish that I don’t even finish the last 15 seconds of any workout. Is it normal? Or is it because of the food I eat?

  7. Irene says:

    Dear Cassey, I’m a 16 year old who is pretty active, uses dumbbells to strength train and eats 85% whole foods . But I have a binge eating problem. Last week i binge ate Sunday and Monday( Memorial Day) and I feel awful. I feel like crying or even talking to someone. I feel like I am an utter failure. I emotionally eat a lot and I need help but don’t want to approach a dietitian for that. The fear of weight gain or loosing my progress is getting to me. What do I do? Please help me. ❤️

  8. Seema Gupta says:

    Dear Cassey
    Please start some challenge with vegan meals. The ones mentioned in HotGirlSummerSculpt were all meant for non vegetarians. I follow your exercises whole heartedly. Please do something in vegan category also.

  9. Annie says:

    Dear Cassey,

    I struggle with how to enjoy the foods I love while still reaching my goals. How did you learn to balance your love for ice cream and your desire to reach your goals? Is there a way to do both?

    Thank you!

  10. J says:

    Dear Cassey,
    I have an eating disorder, and I am required by my team to eat refined carbs, fats, and such. I want to be the healthiest, leanest me without getting my team worried about me or possible relapse. What do you recommend to eat to keep me with what they recommend and also help with becoming lean? I know it seems vain, but I would love to be happy with myself without killing myself slowly.

    Sincerely,
    J

  11. Marie says:

    Cassey,

    I lost weight but my stomach got bigger??? What gives?

  12. Confused Teen says:

    Dear Cassey, I’m 15 yrs old and I want to do the 90 day journey to eat healthier, however is this good for me to do or am I to young? Confused Teen

  13. Kimberley says:

    Cassey , my girl !!!!!!!!!!! first i just want to say you are such an angel and im so grateful for what you’ve done for my health and fitness journey while I’ve been pursuing modelling — you are helping me achieve my dreams <3
    Question ! Getting lean requires a calorie deficit and ive made a lot of progress regarding my relationship with food . For the first time i don’t feel so restricted and I’ve been eating enough to fuel my workouts , stay full , and nourish my body. My question is however , do you have to reduce calories even more to continue losing weight ? My thighs are my problem area and I’ve come to terms that they will be the last thing “to go” on my journey but i just want to make sure I’m doing the right things to see progress there . I’ve seen progress in my abs and arms (thank youuuu cardio Pilates !!) but I’m ready for those long lean legs i can see on the horizon hahaha
    I’d love to hear your input on a proper execution of a calorie deficit and any tips on slimming these legs !!!
    Love you , “miss Blogilates “ ( how i refer to you 🤣💜)

  14. Eya says:

    Dear Cassey,
    I am 16 year old girl 45 kg and 150 cm .
    I want to increase my height in a healthy way ,I wonder if I need to eat more than my calorie needs in order to grow taller and what food should I focus on eating?btw lately l’m drinking lots of milk 2_3 cups per day😂. is it true that milk helps with height increasing ??

  15. Vibushitha says:

    Thank you Cassey ! This is really an eye opener. Cassey, as I’m an Asian, it’s obvious that I eat rice everyday. Some say rice makes you gain weight. I’m confused. If this is true, then how can I lose weight without cutting out rice?

    1. Penny Vo says:

      White rice equals carbs! You can sub it with other grains like brown rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa, etc orrrrr have smaller portions of it and larger portions of your veggies and proteins.

  16. Priyamvada says:

    Hey Cassey,
    I got diagnosed with drug resistant tuberculosis this January and it has been a jerky ride ever since. I lost a lot of fat and have got too leaner and although i love my skinny look, I still wanna get back to the healthier and stronger version of me(i find it hard to try so many of your exercises which were so easy peasy for me in 2020) I fear that if i try to put on weight,it will only end up depositing in my abdomen rather than the places i want it to be. I find it hard to get back to my old self plus people criticizing me for looking malnourished is a cherry on cake. I need to be in harmony with what my body says and you please help me do it. And yeah i love ya.
    Thanks,
    Priya

  17. Marin says:

    This is exactly what I needed to read today!

  18. I want to run with my dogs says:

    How can I be less scared of exercising in public? I’ve felt overweight as long as I can remember and I feel super self conscious when exercising where other people can see me because I feel like everything giggles and looks awful. I know other people won’t actually care what I look like when I’m running outside but do you have any tips for getting past this fear? Is there another way I can view this? Thank you!

  19. Roxy says:

    Dear Cassey,

    I take chronic medication for depression and anxiety. I have always been a healthy active person, but when I startes these medication almost 10 years ago now, my weight has just skyrocketed ever since. I go through phases where I lose some of it, but it never stays off for very long. This is also often because these medications mess with metabolism and feelings of hunger and fullness (or so I’ve been told).

    Despite knowing my history, whenever I visit the doctor or the gynae, they tell me I need to lose weight but also that I can’t stop the chronic medication.

    Do you have any advice? Sometimes I feel as though I’m fighting a losing battle.

  20. I still prefer to eat during the day, but the is good to know!

  21. Always tired says:

    which is very bad sugar or salt?

    1. Therina says:

      There is no good or bad food if you think about it. Just eat everything in moderation.☺️

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