It’s been a long day. You worked eight hours, then stopped at the gym on your way home. At eight o’clock you are finally sitting down for dinner, but you feel guilty because you have heard you should not eat after six or seven o’clock. Does this sound familiar? If you are worried that eating late night food will make you gain weight, it is time to put away that myth.

Is Eating Late Night Food Bad?

Weight gain is the result of too many calories consumed and not enough calories used. If your goal is to lose weight, you need to use more calories than you eat. This does not mean that if you eat 1,500 calories each day, you have to exercise for four hours straight in an attempt to burn 2,000 calories. Remember, your body uses calories to sustain itself. It does mean that your calorie intake should sustain your life and then you need to exercise to burn off calories that are being stored as fat. It is always best to speak with your doctor about the number of calories your body needs, but a simple way to determine approximately how many calories your body needs is to add a zero to your weight. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., your body needs approximately 1500 calories. You can also use this formula to determine how many calories to eat each day to reach your desired weight. For example, if you want to weigh 125 lbs., your body needs approximately 1250 calories. If you want to weigh 200 lbs., you need to eat approximately 2000 calories.

The time of day does not matter.

You have 24 hours in which to consume and burn your calories. The goal is to find a daily balance. If you have already eaten a large breakfast and medium-sized lunch, aim to eat a smaller dinner. If you find yourself stress-eating at night after a long day, here is where you may find it challenging to keep off the weight. Keep it mind, it is not because you are eating later, it is because you are eating too many extra calories.

Your food selection always matters.

Choose a variety of healthy, low-fat foods for your eating plan. If you consume a lot of sugar or fatty foods, your blood sugar may drop causing you to need more food to try and perk up your energy level. Blood sugar levels can fluctuate throughout the day and can also affect your sleep. If you eat late night food that is high in sugar or fat, you may experience a restless night of sleeping, which can lead to eating extra calories the next day as you try to stay awake.

No, eating dinner late will not make you gain weight as long as you are not eating excess calories, or eating foods that will increase your chances of taking in more calories the next day. Keep things in moderation and choose from a variety of healthy foods that support your workout program. You need the energy to exercise, live, and work so fuel your body with enough calories of foods the body can use and you will reach all your fitness goals.

X