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Does Eating in the Evening Make You Fat?

Por Claudia M. González, MS, RD, LD/N* -

Some people believe skipping dinner will help them lose weight. Our bodies process calories in the same way, regardless of whether they are consumed in the morning, afternoon, or at night.

Hunger and appetite

Feeling hungry is a normal physiological response. Appetite, however, is related to the psychological desire to eat for pleasure. Food can satisfy hunger, a basic human need, while appetite involves response to flavors, aromas, and personal experiences.

You are probably not hungry after eating a steak dinner with potatoes, salad, and bread; it is your appetite that tempts you into having dessert. You may think the stomach regulates hunger, but the truth is that hunger is more complicated than it seems. Hunger is regulated by a complex system of chemicals that communicate with the various systems in your body.

Does hunger have a schedule?

There are people who eat 3 times a day because it is mealtime, not because they’re hungry, and then there are people who eat according to their appetite, even when they are no longer hungry. It is important to remember that our bodies need to refuel every 3 or 4 hours for us to have energy, for our metabolism to stay active, and even to control our moods.

Calories consumed vs. calories burned

Many factors play a role in weight gain and loss. Having a healthy body weight is a simple mathematical equation: calories consumed minus calories burned equals total daily calorie balance. Your current weight is the result of the food you have eaten and the physical activity you have performed, over a number of days, weeks, months, and years.

Does eating in the evening make you fatter?

The amount of calories consumed in combination with physical activity or exercise determines weight gain. What time you eat is really not relevant. If you normally eat anything you see in the evening, you will put on weight. Weight gain is not related to what time you eat, but to your daily calorie intake and/or lack of exercise.

What to do

Don’t starve yourself in the evening. Simply plan your meals ahead of time. Start with breakfast. Plan your snacks and eat every 3 or 4 hours. Have regular meals, comprised of small portions, which provide you with a low or moderate amounts of calories. Learn to recognize the signs of hunger if you don't already. Don't overeat just to satisfy your appetite.



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