In any given article in a health and beauty magazine about “losing weight fast” or “how to drop 10 pounds in 10 days,” often times I see “stop eating late at night” on the list. I was always confused by this, because I always assumed eating at night is equal to eating a meal during the day time. It’s not like eating at night causes you to inhale double the calories as you normally would, so what’s all the fuss about? Is eating at night as bad as we think it is? And what makes it different from eating any other meal in the day?
According to womenshealthmag.com Jaime Mass, a nutritionist, simply states that a calorie is just a calorie, no matter what time of day you consume them. She further states that it doesn’t matter what time of day you eat food, because if you are consuming more calories than you are burning, you will gain weight regardless of the time of day you eat food.
However, usnews.com states that research has shown that people who eat food at night consistently are heavier on average than people who do not eat at night. One study, conducted by The American Journal of of Clinical Nutrition, came to the conclusion that, people who ate between 11 pm and 5 am gained more weight than those who did not eat during those times.
The article does not give the specifics of the study however, and a lot of different confounding, or third variables, could contribute to weight gain at night. For example, in the study were the participants all males, or all females? Or a mixture of both? Men and women gain weight differently, so the study would have to be clear of the sexes of the participants for an accurate study. Another confounding variable could be the kind of food you are eating. A fattier food like a hamburger or pizza slice would cause you to intake more calories than if you were eating an apple or a slice of bread with peanut butter on it. The study was not very clear of what the participants were eating, so I am unable to decide if I should trust everything it is saying.
Before I came to any conclusions myself, I would conduct a study of my own before I decided for myself if eating at night was bad or not. I would think to myself the direct causality and the reverse causality of the hypothesis at hand. Does eating at night cause weight, or does weight can cause you to eat at night? Or, is a confounding or third variable causing it. Of course, chance could also be a factor too. I think any of the four options could be a viable solution to this question.
So, I think the answer to the question is unresolved now. I think more research is required to be conducted for us to come to a solution. As a sc200 student, I would understand that the correlation does not exactly equal causation, and that more research is required before I will come to a logical solution about eating at night or not.