eating late in the evening (q for fab foodie?)

Discussion in 'Training, Fitness and Health' started by bonj2, 11 Feb 2008.

  1. bonj2

    bonj2 Guest

    I hope you (or anyone) can shed any light on this one, to settle an argument that was raging in my family over the weekend, about eating food late on in the day. My little brother (who is quite into good nutrition and muscle-building) says it's good, my mum says it's bad. He claims that if you eat proteinous food like meat late at night, then while you're asleep your body doesn't have anything else to expend energy on so can focus on converting the protein into muscle. My mum on the other hand, says that it's unhealthy as your metabolism slows down and it doesn't digest it as fast, so it effectively somewhat rots in your stomach not being put to any use, and while not that likely is more likely to lead to things like stomach ulcers and bowel cancer if you do it all the time for a lifetime.
    Are either, or both, of them right?
    he reckons it's also best to eat 'simple carbs like bananas' after doing exercise like cycling, and that it's best to eat small amounts regularly rather than large amounts infrequently - and a lot of other stuff about what type of stuff to eat when which went over my head due to the fact he was talking fairly fast.
    Anything else to add, and any good simple "must do"s and "must don't"s to remember for what nutritional stuff to eat when?
  2. col

    col Veteran

    The general rule of not eating late,is i believe,because we are not doing anything in bed asleep,so it goes to our waistline,unless your actively training,ie bodybuilding,then protiens can help repair tissue,but carb loading is the norm,the night before,for energy the next day.Small but regular meals was something a lot of lads i knew,went by, while bodybuilding.The theory being,your not over stuffing yourself,and the body isnt working hard digesting massive meals,but steady away,so it can use its energies repairing and building.
  3. I thought eating late was bad, for the reasons Col mentions, ie it all goes onto your waist as you're not using any energy while you're asleep. Because of the hours I work I nearly always have my tea around 10pm (I'm eating it now, as it happens) and I'm getting a little portly.:smile:
  4. Bigtallfatbloke

    Bigtallfatbloke New Member

    I was just about to go and you have confused me...:smile:
  5. dangerousjules

    dangerousjules Über Member

    i beg to differ...if the human male needs approx 2500kcal a day to function well why should we be told we have to allocate particular window slots to fuel ourselves. e.g if a cyclist has been on the road for 6 hours and has expelled 5000 calories are we to believe that come evening when he needs to re-stock to recover he can only have a small meal because apparently it's not healthy to sleep on certain foods...balls! granted eating a slab of dairy milk is'nt going to help before you go to bed but the other myths about food consumption before 6pm etc is rubbish.
  6. walker

    walker New Member

    Bromley, Kent
  7. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    Apols bonj...not been online for a while...busy, busy!

    Well I'm a Food Scientist rather than a nutritionist, though I have a reasonable comprehension of body function and chemistry.
    It's a good question, they used to say:
    Breakfast like a King
    Lunch like a Lord
    Supper like a Pauper...

    I take Jules point, if we need 2500 cals per day does it matter when we eat them...well maybe it does...but Im no expert in this foield but my take is like this...
    The body is a complex interplay of various chemical pathways that are very dynamic and sit in an ever shifting equilibrium depending on what the body is doing at any particular moment.
    So, it seems sensible to have a large slowly digested meal at the beginning of the day to give yo the fuel for the most active period. In a perfect world the food you consumed would top-up the fuel tank at about the same rate and quantity at which you used the energy from the tank. The reality is probably somewhat different with energy supply from food being out of phase with energy requirement. So for example a long-distance cyclist will burn more fuel when cycling than he is eating, so he draws upon glycogen and fat reserves...this debt needs to be repayed at the end of the day. Hunger is the signal the body provides to tell us to eat...(if close to bonking then it'll make us to crave sugar or anything sweet). So, we eat and the fuel stocks are re-plenished...assuming the hunger signal ensures we don't eat more than we guess is that in most cases we will over-cal and the excess converts to more fuel storage, and the most convenient form is fat.
    Insulin is a major mediator in fuel storage and mobilisation.
    My hunch is that consuming a large quantity of food prior to bedtime is more likely to lead to weight gain. My thinking is that in going to bed, metabolism slows down, less heat genetration, mental and muscular activity virtually ceases (the 3 big power consumers), the body will digest the big dinner, insulin surges and as the immediate body needs for fuel are low then more of the calories will be converted to storage molecules i.e fat than if the same meal was consumed for breakfast when the immediate calorie usage rate is much much higher.
    If you have a big meal before bed and the calories are stored as suggested, will they be utilised in the morning...well maybe, and some of the nights stored excess fuel will be utilised but the body will start giving the hunger signals and asking for more fuel as well. On balance I think eating late at night is more likely to lead to weight gain than eating at another time, primarily because of the powerful role of the Insulin storage response and the hunger trigger.
    Now as Jules suggests if you expel 2500 cals per day and consume 2500 cals per day, does it matter when you consume them? Where is the problem? Well, IMO,the problem is that by eating late you will spend much of the day feeling hungry and maybe feeling lethargic as stored fat being mobilised is your main source of energy (it's important to note that whilst sugar and protein can be converted to fat, fat cannot be converted back to either), then hunger strikes and in most people that will lead to increased daily calorific intake.

    The idea of "grazing" throughout the day seems appealing, better balancing energy input and output and reducing the big insulin swings which lead to excess fat accumulation (and lethargy) when calorie intake becomes in excess after a big binge.

    Can't comment on your mother notion about motions...I don't think there is any evidence (Though I may be completely wrong) that links night-time eating with bowel cancer issues. Good digestive transit from a high enough fibre diet, not overdosing on red-meat and having healthy gut flora seems to be the important points.

    Flip, I've no idea if that makes any sense to you, but it's my best go at a reasonably short answer!
  8. OP

    bonj2 Guest

    hmmm, yeah cheers all that sort of makes sense.
    I understand jules' point, this is what i would have assumed, but i am just conscious that energy does have to be stored, and it can't be stored in readily-usable form.
    FF - I take your point about insulin being important, i'll try and get round to reading up on that.
  9. stevenb

    stevenb New Member

    South Beds.
    I feel better if I eat at 18.30 and go to bed at stomach is relaxed.
    I've just finished off some peanuts actually...prolly not best before beddy byes....but didnt have a huge dinner earlier.
    It's all down to preference.
    I tend not guff in bed so much if I eat on time. :rolleyes:
  10. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    I need to have something sweet just before bed-time whether cereal or sweet tea. Read recently that the sudden rise in sugar level triggers an insulin spike (which I knew), but, also release Tryptophan into the blood (which I didn't know). Tryptophan is an Amino acid found in high level in bananas and milk and has the effect of making you feel relaxed and sleepy.
    Probably why after a big cake pig-out the sofa always seems a good place to be!
  11. sloe

    sloe New Member

    Just listen to what your own innards are saying to you. Like a bacon sarnie last thing will give me heartburn, but a couple of oatcakes and cheese sets off the dozy ruminant. If I'm actually feeling peckish at bedtime I might not sleep for hours.
  12. Jaded

    Jaded New Member

    I think that if no one else has seen the food then it doesn't count.
  13. stevenb

    stevenb New Member

    South Beds.
    True....a cup of warm milky...or a malt drink made with milk is great before bed.....and a digestive biccy to accompany.:smile:
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