You gain weight when you consume more energy than you expend
"Some people say eating just before going to bed makes you fat because the body doesn't need the energy while you're asleep. [But this is false.] What counts is how many kilojoules you eat in a day — you put on weight when you consume more energy than you expend."
NIDDK (National Institutes of Health): Weight-loss and Nutrition Myths
"Myth: Eating after 8 p.m. causes weight gain.
Fact: It does not matter what time of day you eat. It is what and how
much you eat and how much physical activity you do during the whole
day that determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight.
No matter when you eat, your body will store extra calories as fat."
The Daily Telegraph: Top 10 food myths busted
"Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper' -
is there any truth to this?
[Dietitian Dr Trent Watson] sets the record straight: "It's the total
energy you eat throughout the day that's important. You can eat all
your daily kilojoules after 6pm, and you won't gain any more weight
than if you ate it earlier in the day. Weight gain occurs when you
consume more energy than you expend."
American Journal of Epidemiology: Association between Eating Patterns and Obesity in a Free-living US Adult Population
"Subjects who eat late in the evening may increase the amount of
glucose stored in muscle as glycogen. In humans, muscle glycogen
fluctuates in accordance with periods of muscle activity and
subsequent carbohydrate consumption. Data suggest that the consumption
of carbohydrate-rich foods in the late evening leads to increased
glycogen levels in the muscles. Unless this stored glycogen is burned
as fuel, it will ultimately be stored as fat. Therefore, consumption
of late-evening meals with carbohydrate-rich foods may also be related
to obesity through its effect on hormonal regulation of energy and
lipid metabolism. However, we found that the interval of time between
the last episode of eating and the time to bed was not associated with
the risk of obesity. Further investigation is warranted to examine the
association of this interval, as well as the nutrient composition
(i.e., percentage of calories from carbohydrate) of the last eating
episode, with obesity."
The Journal of Nutrition:
Weight Loss is Greater with Consumption of Large Morning Meals and Fat-Free Mass Is Preserved with Large Evening Meals in Women on a Controlled Weight Reduction Regimen
"The purpose of this study was to determine whether meal ingestion
pattern [large morning meals (AM) vs. large evening meals (PM)]
affects changes in body weight, body composition or energy utilization
during weight loss. Ten women completed a metabolic ward study of 3-wk
weight stabilization followed by 12 wk of weight loss with a
moderately energy restricted diet [mean energy intake ± SD = 107 ± 6
kJ/(kg·d)] and regular exercise. The weight loss phase was divided
into two 6-wk periods. During period 1, 70% of daily energy intake was
taken as two meals in the AM (n = 4) or in the PM (n = 6). Subjects
crossed over to the alternate meal time in period 2. Both weight loss
and fat-free mass loss were greater with the AM than the PM meal
pattern: 3.90 ± 0.19 vs. 3.27 ± 0.26 kg/6 wk, P < 0.05, and 1.28 ±
0.14 vs. 0.25 ± 0.16 kg/6 wk, P < 0.001, respectively. Change in fat
mass and loss of body energy were affected by order of meal pattern
ingestion. The PM pattern resulted in greater loss of fat mass in
period 1 (P < 0.01) but not in period 2. Likewise, resting
mid-afternoon fat oxidation rate was higher with the PM pattern in
period 1 (P < 0.05) but not in period 2, corresponding with the fat
mass changes. To conclude, ingestion of larger AM meals resulted in
slightly greater weight loss, but ingestion of larger PM meals
resulted in better maintenance of fat-free mass. Thus, incorporation
of larger PM meals in a weight loss regimen may be important in
minimizing the loss of fat-free mass."
InteliHealth: Does Nighttime Noshing Make You Fat?
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