Medical Mythbusters – Eating late at night makes you fat!

TRUE OR FALSE: Late night snacks make you fat

A: FALSE!

Weight loss is one of those topics on which medical myths abound – in fact, one stroll through Barnes and Noble will show you how many people are making a mint by promoting them. One of the ones we hear all the time is that eating late at night makes you fatter than eating earlier in the day.  Fortunately for those of us midnight snackers, new research has shown that this is total bunk. While technically speaking our metabolism slows down a little bit at night, the simple truth remains: if you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight and if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you’ll lose weight – no matter what time of day it is.  

Granted, if you find yourself taking a big bowl of ice cream to bed every night, or indulging in nightly wine & cheese, you’re going to pack on some pounds, but no more so than if you had that bowl of ice cream for breakfast.  

It’s probably still a good idea to avoid eating late at night.  Eating right before you lie down puts you at an increased risk for acid reflux, a condition in which food contents and digestive acids from the stomach splash back up into the esophagus causing an uncomfortable burning sensation in the chest (“heartburn”).  If that occurs, be sure to let your health care provider know.  And leave the Oreos alone unti the sun comes up…

Angie Walker, Med IV (OSU COM)

John A. Vaughn, MD (OSU SHS) 

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