With so much research right at your fingertips, it can be hard to know how to properly nourish your body. I know I've fallen down my fair share of rabbit holes looking up what to eat, when to eat, and how much my body can handle at once. Despite overlapping conversations and heated debates over what's truly best for your body, one thing food experts and registered nutritionists collectively agree on is that eating a big meal before bed is ill-advised.
Everyone's been there, though. You're out late with your friends ,and they suggested the group grab a quick bite. You worked overtime and didn't get home until 8 p.m.
Whether it's because of social circumstances, or because sometimes you just happen to feel ravenous around the time you'd normally be going to bed, eating late happens -- but it should definitely be avoided.
Taylor Johnson, RDN, LDN, co-founder of RootsReboot.com, tells Elite Daily,
I recommend my clients to have their largest meal for either breakfast or lunch, depending on their daily routine and schedule, and to try and make their last meal their lightest meal of the day. This allows their body to utilize the energy from their food to be more productive, creative, and motivated throughout the day. If clients do choose to have their largest meal for dinner, I recommend to try and allow your body at least three hours to digest your food before calling it a night.
You may have consumed a hearty meal late at night once or twice without any repercussions, but here are a few reasons why this shouldn't become the norm.
Food is fuel, which equals more energy for your body -- not exactly what you want right before you go to sleep.
Bedtime means it's time for your body to shut down after long hours of constant activity.
Eating a large meal before settling in for the night actually sends a message to your body you're getting ready to do the exact opposite.
Eating your largest meal of the day before going to bed increases your blood sugar levels and insulin, a hormone that takes sugars from carbohydrates in the food you eat and either utilizes it for energy or stores it for future use. This boost of energy you get from breaking down and absorbing a big meal can act as a short-lived stimulant. Therefore, you will feel much more alert and awake and have a hard time falling asleep.
Plus, eating a big meal before bed will leave you feeling crummy by the time your alarm goes off the next morning.
Now here's a domino effect for you.
Whenever you eat a large meal, your metabolism essentially goes into overdrive, which means falling asleep may not be so easy due to the heavy workload you've just assigned to your digestive system.
That disrupted sleep pattern can then negatively affect how you feel the next morning, causing fatigue and even a heightened appetite.
Digestion will also be more difficult, since your body will be trying to process food in an unnatural position.
I know myself, and after any large meal, I'm about ready to take a nap -- but lying down on the job does nothing good for your digestive tract.
When it comes to digestion, the optimal position for your body to be in is upright, so if you're cozying into bed soon after scarfing down a large meal, the food won't be broken down properly -- instead, it will uncomfortably sit in your stomach way longer than it's supposed to.
And then your wacky digestion issues can lead to reflux.
If you frequently experience heartburn, lying down on a full stomach isn't the smartest idea.
Alexandra Rains, co-founder at Bonafide Provisions, tells Elite Daily,
Because the body can take upwards of three hours to empty its contents into the small intestines, eating a large meal and laying down right after can increase the chance of stomach acid used to digest food, spilling into the esophagus, leading to heartburn and other undesirable symptoms.
Being a nighttime grazer myself, I understand the later it gets, the hungrier you feel. But rather than gorging on a full-course meal, it's probably best to just skip the feast and go to sleep.
Hey, at least you have breakfast to look forward to, right?