After I wrote my blog about intermittent fasting, one girl asked me if it is okay to go to bed hungry.
This is a great question, but it is also a tricky one! There’s no right or wrong answer that works for everybody. It depends on your body, your health and fitness goals, and your own personal habits.
Overeating and eating too little are both bad for your health. In this blog, I’ll help you find a happy balance that’s best for your lifestyle!
WHY IS EATING TOO MUCH BEFORE BED BAD?
IT MIGHT MAKE YOU SKIP BREAKFAST
If you eat a big snack or meal right before bed, you might be too full to eat breakfast. It is up to you to decide if that is a problem for you or not.
Some girls (like those who do certain types of intermittent fasting) prefer not to eat breakfast. Their bodies do better if they eat at different times instead.
I think that if you’re eating enough healthy food throughout your day, then it is okay to skip breakfast. You just need to be healthy about it!
But other girls find that they need to eat breakfast to feel alert and have more energy throughout the day. It helps them wake up and be focused on their classes or work in the morning. If that’s you, that’s perfectly okay too.
The only reason you should skip breakfast is if you are doing intermittent fasting. You shouldn’t skip breakfast because you ate way too much the night before and feel like you need to starve yourself to make up for it.
YOU CAN EXPERIENCE STOMACH PROBLEMS
Some people have trouble eating before going to bed. For them, eating before laying down can cause reflux (when stomach acid goes up into the throat). These symptoms are uncomfortable and even painful, and they include:
- Trouble swallowing
- Stomach pain
If you have these symptoms, it is best for you to avoid eating for three hours before going to bed. Also, try to see a doctor to make sure you don’t have any serious conditions. Your health always matters. :)
EATING BEFORE BED CAN MAKE YOU GAIN WEIGHT
Most experts agree that eating before you fall asleep doesn’t cause weight gain by itself. If you are genuinely hungry and you need the calories, then eating before bed won’t make you gain weight.
But a lot of people snack right before bed because they’re bored, craving sugar, or want something to munch on while they watch Netflix. At that point, they’re just eating extra calories, which leads to gaining weight.
Keep your snacking in check, and make sure that you’re actually hungry. Your mind can play tricks on you!
YOU GET POORER QUALITY SLEEP WHEN YOU GO TO BED FULL
When you go to bed on a full stomach, your body is spending a lot of its resources digesting the food you have just eaten.
What your body should be doing is producing and balancing the right hormones to help your body fall asleep and stay asleep (such as melatonin and cortisol). Your body and your immune system also repair themselves while you are sleeping.
So if you go bed full, it’s likely that you will have a poorer quality sleep.
WHY IS GOING TO BED HUNGRY BAD?
BEING HUNGRY CAN KEEP YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT
Just like eating too much, being hungry can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night, and can result in poor quality sleep as well.
Not getting enough sleep hurts your body in general. Not only is it linked to obesity, but it can also:
- Slow down your metabolism.
- Make you even hungrier! (thanks to the hormones leptin and ghrelin).
- Cause you to gain or weight or make it difficult to lose weight (thanks to increased cortisol levels).
- Weaken your immune system, so that you’re more likely to get sick.
- Increase your blood pressure.
Getting enough sleep is essential if you want to lose weight and be healthy!
GOING TO BED HUNGRY CAN MAKE YOU EAT MORE
Being really hungry can cause a bad cycle. You want to lose weight, so you eat too little. Then, you get really hungry, and end up eating way more calories than you would have originally!
This can happen when you go to bed hungry too! If you regularly wake up needing more food than normal, maybe try adding a healthy snack before bed.
As always, try listening to your body and what it needs. There aren’t always black or white answers, so it is good to experiment to see what works for you.
I AM DOING INTERMITTENT FASTING, BUT I GO TO BED STARVING. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Intermittent fasting is great for so many people. Lots of girls that I’ve talked to love it, and they’ve seen good benefits from it.
That being said, intermittent fasting isn’t for everybody. If you feel very hungry before going to bed, here are a few suggestions:
UNDERSTAND THAT IT CAN TAKE YOUR BODY TIME TO ADJUST.
If you’ve just started intermittent fasting, you’ll probably be hungry at first. Your body has probably been used to eating several times a day for most of your life, so an adjustment period is normal.
MAKE SURE YOU’RE EATING WELL.
When you do intermittent fasting, you don’t have to count calories! That’s one of the things people like about it! There is a chance, though, that you aren’t eating enough food or the food that you’re eating isn’t nutritious. If you aren’t eating well, then it makes sense that you’ll be hungry in the evenings.
Make sure the food you’re eating includes carbohydrates, fat, and protein. You should also be eating food high in fiber as this will keep you feeling full
If you are still concerned that you’re not eating enough, you can always calculate your daily caloric intake. I’ve written about how to do that here.
TRY A DIFFERENT FASTING METHOD.
In the blog post on intermittent fasting, I wrote about the different methods that people do. I recommend fasting for 12-16 hours to start, but it is okay to try the various ways to see what works for you and your lifestyle.
I’ve written more about the 5:2 diet method, which is great if you have a busy lifestyle!
BE OKAY WITH STOPPING.
If intermittent fasting doesn’t work well for you, that’s ok. It isn’t a program for everybody. Safety always matters, so stop or talk to your doctor if you think it has negative side effects for you!
There are plenty of other ways to eat well and lose weight!
WHAT ARE SOME HEALTHY BEDTIME SNACKS?
If you choose to eat before bed, try to eat something healthy and filling rather than a cookie! You’ll feel better as you sleep and when you wake up.
Here are a few of my favorite bedtime snack ideas:
- An apple with peanut butter
- Greek yogurt with chia seeds
- Baby carrots
I try to find ways to make sure that I don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed. It’s a balance that’s going to depend on your goals, your lifestyle, and your body! I hope you lovelies can find this balance too!
Love Rachael Xx