Fact or fiction: The good, the bad and the ugly of eating before bed

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MILWAUKEE -- We've all heard it is bad to eat before bed -- unless you want to wear those calories on your hips. But is that fact or fiction? Registered dietitian Lisa Grudzielanek with Metcalfe’s Market joins Real Milwaukee with what the science says.

  • Conventional wisdom says that eating before bed causes weight gain because your metabolism slows down when you fall asleep. This causes calories to be stored as fat.
  • Eating before bed is perfectly fine and may even improve sleep or weight loss or it may be detrimental and support weight gain and poor sleep. Evidence exists on both sides.
  • The answer to whether or not it's a bad idea to eat before bed really depends on you and your habits. It depends on what and how much you're eat.

PROS: 

  • A small snack, no more than 200 calories, is likely fine for some people, such as a piece of fruit, yogurt or cottage cheese.
  • Eating a small snack before bed may help 'night-time snackers' sleep better not going thru the 'agony' of not eating before bed and eat less at dinner knowing they can still have snack before bed. Over the long term may aid weight loss.
  • For example, Tart cherries are one of the few natural sources of melatonin, which is responsible for the regulation of the body's internal clock and sleep-wake cycle.
  • Kiwi is high in serotonin. Serotonin in the body contributes to several aspects of sleep, including helping to initiate sleep onset and to maintain sleep during the night. It`s also the precursor to melatonin.

CONS:

  • Eating what I call a 'snupper'—a snack that is more like a supper, too calorie-rich, too much food, is altogether another situation and likely to contribute to weight gain.
  • Unconscious eating while watching TV or social media leads to over consumption for the day.
  • Some people are better off setting limits to avoid eating at night, after dinner or a certain time, to avoid extra, unnecessary intake.
  • Eating before bed is bad if you have acid reflux. Recommended to avoid eating 3 hours before bed or lying down.
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