I frequently hear people tell me that they eat a big dinner and eat a snack before bed sometimes even waking to eat a snack. Well, perhaps they should consider the following. Sumo wrestlers who need to gain significant weight before a match will eat a lot of calories before bed and wake up in the night to eat. So, if you are not careful you may have been following a sumo diet, which I am pretty sure is not the goal.
The research is pretty clear that if your goal is to lose weight you should take most of your calories early during the day. I typically recommend not eating after 6:30 pm. In the evening and during sleep, your body is busy making essential enzymes and repairing tissues and organs. The body does not want to process food in the evenings. Food late at night will interfere with this restorative process. The body will simply store these late night calories instead of processing them so that it can focus on repairing your vital tissues and organs.
Research: A recent research study took a group of participants and asked them to fast during the day and to take all their daily calories (2000cals) before bedtime. After 1 month, 80% of the study participants gained weight. Next, the study asked the same participants to take all their daily calories (2000cals) for breakfast and then fast the rest of the day. Well, after 1 month, 100% of the study participants lost weight. Clearly, there is an advantage to taking most of your calories early in the day when you are active and your body is better able to process and break down the food. Instead of late at night when the body is going to store the food as unwanted fat.
Breakfast is a very very very important meal not to skip. At night, your body is resting and restoring and using calories and micronutrients to achieve these restorative processes, however, in the morning your body will demand calories to replenish the micronutrients and calories that were used in the night. If you skip this important meal, your body will think that something is horribly wrong. Your body will think that you are entering a famine common during our evolutionary past and that it better store all the food you take in so that you can survive. Your body will secrete cortisol which is a stress hormone which signals storage of calories because a famine is approaching. There is no famine approach. We live in a world with TOO much food. Unfortunately, our bodies still run on old programming developed about 50 thousand years ago. The bottom line is to eat a good breakfast with more protein and some carbs, as well, to give your body the energy it demands and keep it out of survival mode (storage mode).
On a personal level, I have been practicing the technique of eating more of my calories early in the day and I have noticed big changes. I don’t eat past 6:30 pm and I eat a good breakfast, a decent lunch, and small dinner. I eat some healthy snacks between meals. I have noticed that I am sleeping better at night and I am losing weight without much effort. I eat until I am about 80% full. I eat a balanced meal with good food packed with micronutrients. Overall, my health has been improving and I am happier.
Good luck and Eat breakfast!