Well, it’s not really that odd if you compare it to overnights or even a schedule I used to keep from a few years ago.. but my current work schedule is 11a-8p, Monday-Friday. I do hit the gym about 2-3 nights out of the work week (in addition to going to spin on Saturday and Tuesday mornings).
Those nights, I’m getting home at about 10pm. And for some reason, I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking dinner when I get home. After having a conversation with Lisa regarding the progress we’ve both made and the work we still have to do – it appears that this is a huge piece of the weight loss puzzle.
Actually, the realization has hit me like a cartoon Acme-brand anvil from a 10-story window. DUH, anyone?
After a few minutes of simple Internets research, I have gathered some food for thought:
- The stomach takes 1-4 hours to empty, so the best thing to do is wait at least 3 hours between a meal and when you go to sleep. I’d like to go to sleep prior to 2am. Just sayin’. Eating within 3 hours of your bedtime can negatively impact the quality of your sleep, leaving you groggy and sluggish the next day. Well now, that sounds awesome.
- Some folks come from the school of thought that it doesn’t matter when you eat (or how many meals for that matter), as long as you expend more energy than you consume. While I agree with the basic theory, this piece merits more discussion: For example, did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to recognize that the body is satisfied from a meal? This is because the hormone produced which sends the necessary signal is actually generated from the intestine – not the stomach itself. You heard me.So consider this: you may over-eat simply because it takes so long for your body to generate and send that hormone. You may feel the sensation of being “full” from your stomach being over-filled long before you’re brain receives the message that you’re satisfied. Therefore, if you eat many smaller meals throughout the day, your body is more likely to trigger the satiation hormone quicker than if you eat a few large meals because you never let the tank run dry.
Take this theorem one step further – if you eat late at night, it has probably been “too long” since your last meal, thus making it just plain easier to over-eat. Throw in the idea that as it gets later in the day, our brains are just plain tired and will slack on the best foods or portion control and you’ve got a clear recipe for disaster.
- While I acknowledge that there is conflicting information about whether eating late is bad for the body – I found one additional piece of information interesting. Eating carb-rich food late at night increases the glycogen stored in the muscles, eventually (I’m paraphrasing, of course) if that glycogen is not burned off it turns into fat. So, it seems like part of the puzzle is that if you do eat something that falls into this category, the best thing you can do for yourself is to exercise in the morning before you start the rest of your day to deplete those glycogen stores before your body decides to tuck them away for a rainy day.
So, this has given me something to chew on – terrible pun intended. I enjoy cooking and I love Lisa and I sharing our days together while I’m preparing the meal and while we’re sitting down to eat. But something has to give if we want to continue to move forward with our health goals.
Knowing is half the battle.
Question: How do you plan your meals? Do you eat smaller meals, more often throughout the day or a few larger meals? Do you think it makes a difference with weight loss/gain? Also, do you impose a cut-off time for food intake? If so, when is right for you?