Is It Okay to Eat Right Before Going to Bed? “Yes” and “No”

May 15, 2009

“Is it okay to eat right before going to bed?” This is a question I have been asked quite a bit recently.

The problem is that it really depends upon how much you eat before going to bed and what your goals are. The crazy thing about this question is that everyone will give you a slightly different answer.

The problem is that there hasn’t been any study (that I know of) that talks about eating right before bed when it comes to getting really lean. I am going to speak purely from my experiences and observations of what I do in regards to eating right before going to bed.

eat right before bed

[I enjoy sleeping in a room with either huge windows or a door out to a deck. It is much easier to sleep with a lot of fresh air circulating around the room. The ultimate situation is being by the ocean in a room like this and going to sleep with the fresh ocean air coming in and hearing the sound of the crashing waves.]

How Much Can You Eat Immediately Before Going to Bed?

The answer to the main question of eating before bed depends upon how much you plan to eat, what you have eaten earlier in the day, what your fitness goals are, and a few other factors.

In my experience, I feel you will get better results if you don’t eat a big meal within 1-2 hours of going to bed. If you are doing something like the Warrior Diet where you don’t eat anything during the day, then you can get away with eating right before bed.

Does “Getting Away” With Eating Before Bed Make it Optimal?

I used to follow the Warrior Diet and now I do Intermittent Fasting just twice per week.

When I was following the Warrior Diet at first I ended up eating a big meal right before bed. I found that it was fine when I was maintaining my weight, but didn’t work well when I wanted to get really lean.

Now I do an ESE-style fast twice per week, which is just eating a normal sized meal at night about 4 hours before bed. The rest of the week I eat 3 meals per day and my last meal is about 4-5 hours before bed.

For Maximum Fat Loss This Has Been My Experience…

In order to get really lean, I think you should eat your last meal no later than 4-5 hours before going to bed. Now…if you get really hungry then it is fine to have a cup of yogurt, an apple, or a cup of cottage cheese. It is okay to eat a little before bed, but not have a full meal right before bed.

If you have a lot of weight to lose, you don’t have to worry about this as much. This is more geared towards people who are trying to lose the last 5-10 “stubborn” pounds.

Once You Are in “Maintenance Mode” Then No Need to Worry

The ideal situation is to be in maintenance mode. This is when you are as lean as you would like to be. At this point you don’t have to be as strict. If you are extra lean, you still will want to time your night meals 4-5 hours before bed some of the time.

The rest of the time you don’t have to worry as much.

Calories In and Calories Out is What Matters for Most

You can get really close to your ideal weight, by just paying attention to calories in and calories out. That being said, I believe you can make your fat loss much easier by eating a Paleo-style diet combined with intermittent fasting. The Paleo low carb diet will keep your insulin levels steady.

Your body can’t burn body fat when insulin levels are high. Steady insulin levels are a key to rapid fat loss. Intermittent fasting, they way I do it, is an easy way to reduce your weekly calorie intake. This is the best 1-2 combo I know for getting as lean as you want and still being able to indulge now and then.

Eating Right Before Going to Bed and Digestion

If you eat a big meal and then lay down your body is in a horizontal position. Some believe that food doesn’t get digested as well when someone is in the horizontal position.

I spent an hour researching this and found that really only a small percentage of individuals have an issue with this. The people who need to avoid this are those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you have a healthy digestive system this tends to be less of an issue.

Eating Right Before Going to Bed to Gain Muscle

Actually it probably isn’t a bad idea to have a little protein right before bed if you are trying to gain muscle. No need to make it overly complicated, but a cup of yogurt, cottage cheese, whey protein shake, etc.

To be honest, this hasn’t really been proven with a study either way…it is just one of those things that “seem” to make sense. If you add a little protein before bed you muscles will have a steady supply of aminos for at least part of the night.

Please don’t wake up in the middle of the night and go protein crazy on me. That is madness!

Summary: So most people will be fine if they simply pay attention to calories in vs calories burned each day (they will still lose weight). Even those people would probably do best if they didn’t eat a large meal within 1 hour of going to bed. For people who want to lose those last 5-10 pounds…try not to eat a big meal within 4 hours of sleep, but eat a small snack if you are starving.

For people who want to gain muscle it makes sense to eat a quality protein source before bed, but this is still more of a guess that hasn’t really been scientifically proven.

Note: I found a ton of articles on this subject, but listing them will confuse more than they help. The biggest problem is that weight loss is really basic until you get 5-10 pounds out from your target…then the rules change.

I’m convinced that it is pretty hard to get extra-lean for most people if they eat a big meal within 4 hours of going to bed, but a small bit of food is fine every now and then.

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Bryan May 15, 2009 at 3:09 pm

I’m in that last 5-10lbs. to go mode right now after losing 40lb’s since December. Just from experience I’d tend to agree with everything you’ve said. I eat a light lunch, big dinner and fast once a week. I’m usually not hungry this way because my largest meal of the day is the last meal of the day.

By the way, have you run out of random hot girl pictures? You’ve been kind of slack in about that in your posts the last few weeks.

I also have a request. You always talk about one of the best reasons to have the hollywood look is how good you look in clothes but I’ve found after loosing my weight that finding stuff that fits well and is stylish is more of a problem then I thought. I’d love a post about fashion even if it’s just a tip on where to find shirts that are not patterned after your typical tent.

M0L May 15, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Hi Rusty,

I found the website by mistake…(who knew) like 3 weeks ago and it has basically proved that everything I thought was right was in fact right..but ppl where to afraid to accept it, all I have read on the site makes so much more sense than anything this multimedia propaganda world we live in would like you to believe, all the tips, diets and exercise make sense(and they have research to back ’em up)..it’s just so cool, I felt “enlightened”, for example: now I think I know why my thighs are so big…and that exercising to failure its a NO NO…I knew there was something wrong ’cause I was working my @ss off and still didn’t look the way I wanted, and had no one to ask about how to loose muscle mass on purpose…that is “taboo”
So this is a thank you note :p and keep on the good work.

PS..I tried the paleo style +workouts for 2 weeks and lost 6lbs…it was cool but after the 3rd week stopped loosing so I got myself a copy of the warrior and will try it this week, I’m 5’4″ and 136 but I would like to go 120-115.. and look slim..not bulky (this is what I get from working out on a bodybuilders gym :(… )
If you have any tips..I would highly appreciate it..on how to slim my legs (my pants are so tight… size 8) and well get to the ideal weight…on August is my bday so I wanna celebrate my 23 looking hawt.
Signing off from Latin america :D!
M0L

M0L May 15, 2009 at 3:18 pm

fyi pant size was 8 xD

M0L May 15, 2009 at 3:21 pm

I tried the turbulence 15min vid training you have there…I kicked my butt too…I did finished at least one round tho.

Adam Steer - Better's Better May 15, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Hey Rusty,

Another great topic! The only thing I would add is the GH part of the equation. There is a school of thought – though not universal – that recommends not eating anything within the last two hours before hitting the sack in order to optimize GH release. The early part of yours sleep is an important period for GH, and it is thought that going to bed with too much food in you (and insulin circulating) will inhibit this natural release. Poliquin is one of the big proponents of this.

At any rate, it fits right in with your 4-5 hours approach. And it’s not all that conclusive, but it’s something to think about when you are trying to lose those last few pounds and everything counts…

Cheers,
Adam

Scott Kustes - Life Spotlight May 15, 2009 at 3:48 pm

I agree, Rusty! I do IF and typically eat within a couple hours of going to bed, but I’m not trying to cut any weight. I don’t have any trouble staying on the 185-190 range (depending on how heavy I’m lifting/eating) with about 9-10% bodyfat.

The one thing I have noticed is that lots of protein before bed can cause some funky dreams. Granted, I kinda enjoy waking up going “WTF?” but some people don’t like it. I also tend to sleep more than most…usually in bed by 10pm and up between 6 and 7am.

If I eat a good starchy meal at night, like after one of my sprint days, I have no trouble falling asleep.

Cheers buddy
Scott Kustes
Life Spotlight

rob May 15, 2009 at 4:23 pm

I’m following the Warrior Diet right now and it’s working for me. Can’t comment beyond that for now.

Mike May 15, 2009 at 4:39 pm

Here is an article about it with sources:

http://www.tmuscle.com/…/bedtime_story

Jason G May 15, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Rusty you said everything that needed to be said; however I will add my own experience with the subject:

Based on my experience it comes down to whether or not you want to lose weight in the day or night. After a meal you will not be losing weight efficiently (if at all) because your body will be using the calories recently received. The Warrior Diet works because the people on this diet lose weight during the day and are limited to one meal at night that is ideally burned off by the by the early afternoon the next day. So on the Warrior Diet all calories burned in the afternoon will come from your body fat. However I think you could come up with a diet named the Pancake Breakfast diet (I do not have a patent) and it would work in the same way. With the Pancake Breakfast diet you might use up the calories by 8:00pm and have the night to be in weight loss mode. The main stream diet media will tell you not to eat before bed because you are not using calories, but in reality you use calories to operate your organs, etc (hence basal metabolism).

So I think it comes down to each individual. If you are a person who is going to snack late at night(like me) than your better off cutting the calories in the day to prepare for that late night snack/meal. I work a late night job with shifts from 3:00pm to 11:00pm and do not eat in this period of time. I usually have two five hundred calories meals (on average) before work and about six hundred calories around 11:30pm. I have had very successful weight loss results. However I am not super thin yet so I might not be the best example for the thin trying to get thinner. I will say that my conclusion on weight loss is that it’s all about calories in versus calories out. The day is a culturally accepted measuring device for calorie intake but your current body is the result of all calories consumed and burned at this point in time.

Carb-Junkie May 15, 2009 at 4:54 pm

I agree Rusty!

I find that if I eat right before bed I feel pretty groggy in the morning-regardless of the food choices. I therefore dont eat 2 hours before bed, even if I’m warrioring πŸ™‚

Greg at Live Fit May 15, 2009 at 8:22 pm

I don’t think it matters what time of day you eat, since calories consumed vs. calories expended still determines weight loss. Having said that, most of us who eat right before bed haven’t been fasting throughout the rest of the day.

Scott Kustes - Life Spotlight May 15, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Adam,
A valid point about GH release, but if you’re following an IF protocol, it may not be a big deal. IF seems to increase GH. Obviously we don’t really want to blunt GH at any time, but if we’re getting a boost during 18-hour fasts, it might not really matter.

Cheers
Scott Kustes
Life Spotlight

Tim D May 15, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Rusty,

Around 22 lbs. from my ideal weight, didn’t discover your site until March of this year. I started at 202 and i am down to about 190 right now with a target weight of 170, i am 5’10”. I am doing eat stop eat right now, so what should i do when i get home from work around 8pm, i usually go to bed around 11pm or so? Would you suggest an apple and a bottle of water and then call it a night.

Thanks again,

Love the site!

Cseng May 15, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Great post Rusty.

Like yourself, I’ve been living the ESE and partial primal way for a while now. Personally, I’d avoid getting a huge meal before bedtime cause it makes me feel so bloated and uncomfortable.
I really like the feeling of going to bed on an ’empty’ tank.

You’ve mentioned before that GH is an important hormone when it comes to building muscle. I am in the midst of putting some lean mass on and am experiencing the effects of natural GH. I constantly try out what I read and admittedly would get sidetracked sometimes (eg. eating alot to bulk up??).

However, most recently, I am convinced that letting the GH do its job is way better than obsessing over how much to eat. Eating a lot only added flab on me. However, after a recent 24hr fasted workout and a goodnight’s sleep, I woke up leaner AND bigger.

Will keep at it and see if it really works or it’s just my wonderful imagination at play πŸ™‚

Take home point would be really to do what you’re comfortable with I guess, as long as you’re not overeating in the first place πŸ™‚

Anthony May 16, 2009 at 12:22 am

now this helped me alot.
great post as usual Rusty!

Sid May 16, 2009 at 3:24 am

Rusty,

Loved the post. It couldn’t have come at a better time πŸ™‚ when I am nearing my fat loss goals.

Since following your diet, I’ve gone down from 76 kgs to my last weigh in last evening to 67 kgs. All this, while dropping body fat, increasing my strength and feeling great. All this, I achieved within the last 4 months.

My diet plan is as follows (I’m traveling to Italy at the end of the month, and I really want to get lean)

Morning 8 AM- 1 Cup Coffee with milk ( no sugar)
9 AM – 1 Scoop Mixed Protein Shake ( 200 Calories in water, it’s basically a blend of fast, intermediate and slow acting protein sources – whey, egg and casein etc etc)

2 PM – 1 Scoop Mixed Protein Shake ( 200 calories, in water) and an apple.

8:30 PM – 2 Scoops protein ( 1 scoop mixed protein, and 1 scoop whey – total of 320 calories) + a small serving of Lentil Soup.

1130 PM – A scoop of casein.

My workout routine is basically similar to yours with the two day split
Monday, Wednesday, Friday – Chest, Back, Abs
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday – Biceps, Shoulders, Triceps

with three exercises per body part, 5 reps per set. Following this protocol, I’ve gained tremendous strength. I’ve been adding plates and increasing the weight I push/lift every week, and it feels awesome.

As I’ve said before, I’ve lost a lot of weight, and this is the lightest i’ve been since my junior year of college (2005). I’ve just those last few pounds of fat left – my trouble areas are my lower abs ( see a slight bulge πŸ™ ) and my upper chest. Since i started following your principles outlined on the site, for the first time, my veins have started popping out on my forearms ( this is the first time i’ve become this lean, thanks to your wonderful insights), and my temple ( i don’t know if that’s really good or not, but it just goes to show how much fat i’ve lost)

my question is this – is there anything i need to change with my basic diet and workout routine to get my abs to pop or do you think this is a solid diet?
Should i skip the casein at night?
And how long should i continue on this diet to get my abs to pop?
And what should i do to lose that last bit of fat from my chest and lower abs?
Any other advice will be greatly appreciated.

Current stats – 5″7′ 148.5 lbs waist size – 32

Thanks a lot for all the help. And ff i do get my abs to pop ( which i am sure I will) with your ideas and principles, i’ll send you my before and after pictures πŸ™‚

Cheers from India πŸ™‚

Sid

fitness-siren May 16, 2009 at 11:59 am

Hey Rusty, 4-5 hours seems to be a good number for people who want to lose the last 5-10 pounds. I would love to be able to do this but I do workout in the evenings and I don’t get done until 6:30 – 7 pm. As I’m in bed by 9 pm (I wake up early for work), this doesn’t really leave 4-5 hours for me to not eat anything before bed. I’m thinking that I would stick to a small post workout meal for now and see how that goes.

I have 8 more pounds to go and I gave myself the next 3 weeks to do it. But, with ESE on my side and some clean eating – I’m sure I’ll be able to do it!

P.S. I do sleep really good when I fast from lunch to lunch. It’s just one of those things that I love about ESE. Now, if only I can figure out how to warm up during fasting – it would be a perfect world…lol.

Another great post!

Helder May 16, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Most experts agree that to let go of fat and to get lean, not eating before going to bed seems to be the most consensual idea. It makes a lot of sense and i agree in theory, but in my own experience i tell you, it really makes no difference to me, at least not enough for me to know

I guess i’m one of the exceptions that confirm the rule, but it’s a very good theme to discuss

myra May 16, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Hi Rusty

Another great post. Interesting as everyones different. for me i have to have at least 3-4 hrs no food b4 bed, also i usually have my main meal at lunch and a lighter one at tea-time this really works for me. im a nurse so with shifts varying i make sure i cook my main meal on a late and take with me. To my knowledge, there is nothing scientifically proven that states theres any correct way but the saying is;
Eat breakfast like a king
Lunch like a queen, and Tea like a pauper.

The Spaniard May 16, 2009 at 3:58 pm

I don’t know if there is any studio about this issue like you say, but to tell you the truth, it wouldn’t help. It all depends on the person and the activity. For example, in my 20’s, when I was playing rugby (I was also playing soccer, basketball and golf) our team could only practice from 11p to 1a (yes, insane hours). I remember going back home and having a huge dinner right before going to be (and I am talking meatballs and pasta, meat and salad, whatever my mother had left for me). I was in great shape and could sleep like a baby. Nowadays, in my 40’s, with a 6 year old son and just golf (when I can get to play), I seriously doubt I could do that. I also had teammates that would eat a paella an hour before a game and it wouldn’t affect them (the extreme was one of the guys who used to play in the wing and would smoke during the match).
I also think it all depends in your lifestyle. Not everyone works at the same hours, can do the same things…some people workout on a empty stomach and others can’t. Some like or have to workout in the morning, some at night. Meals that not affect someone can affect another person.

Justin from GymJunkies May 16, 2009 at 7:41 pm

NIce post Rusty, this is something I really dont know much about.

@ Adam, good comment! You touched on a few points that I had not thought of before with GH…

jerdog May 16, 2009 at 8:39 pm

I believe there are other factors involved, but in general one should be able to become leaner if you eat several hours before bed versus eating right before bed. The reason I say this is generally people sleep 6-8 hours, so if you eat your last meal farther from your sleep time, your body will digest that meal and then have more time to “come down” from any insulin release that occurred. Once insulin levels are low enough you will begin to release GH. The longer you release GH the more weight you should lose. ESE is one of the best ways to promote GH release.

hugo @ portugal May 16, 2009 at 9:14 pm

This is all fine but what about those cases where you dont wish to lose weight but you still wanna get leaner? I mean, I’m in my 68Kg’s, thats my average weight thru out the year, still I’m trying to get leaner so my body gets that extra toned look.
I know I should exercise more, specially cardio which I’m doing none mostly due to the weather which is not stable yet but right now I’ve only been trying to gain some mass doing bodyweight exercies and using a set of dumbells.
Usually when it’s time to go to bed I’m starving to death couse I don’t eat since dinner and that’s like 4 sometimes 6 hours after, so I usually eat a bowl of oatmeal.
Hope I’m not making a mistake.

Rahul May 17, 2009 at 5:43 am

Hi Rusty,

A lot of these topics are kind of confusing with no clear answer….for myself, I know that I want to lose some last bits of fat (lower abs, neck and face) and am not able to do so and kind of thought it might be due to this exact same thing….I come back fairly late from work so don’t have much choice, usually hit the bed very soon after eating……

Anyways, wanted to sk your opinion on protien supplements etc…In the last 3-4 months, I have lost quite a bit of fat (I think HIIT really worked out for me) but don’t think I have gained much by way of muscle….so was thinking of taking protien shakes etc.(in any case, my diet dosen’t contain much protien and that might be one reason)….I am not sure what goes into this stuff so wanted ur reccomendation…..

I know you keep talking about Myoplex, but it’s not available here in India. Are there any other brand names u can suggest for me to check out?? I am a total beginer and just want clean protein, that’s it…..

Thanks again,
Rahul

Michiel May 17, 2009 at 7:24 am

Great topic, really got me thinking about what to eat for a good GH release. I’m now at 188 pounds 6ft 2 with 8% bodyfat. I think if i lose another 1 or 2% BF i wil be very sharp. Is it really possible to maintain 6-8% year round? Staying between 8-10% is maintainable for me but when i try to get lower than 8% my body seems to bounce back pretty quickly and i seem to lose a bit of muscle.
Thanks again so much for your work at this site, it keeps amazing me with what i still can learn.
Greetz

Methuselah - Train Now Live Later May 17, 2009 at 9:18 am

Good summary Rusty. Because of work I find it hard to eat more than 3 hours before bed, but I make up for it with twice weekly 23-hour fasts. I make an effort to eat small the night before a fast and find this is a good way to make the fast count…

admin May 17, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Bryan,

Good points…I have backed off a bit on the pictures of ladies, but I will still do occasionally. I guess my sites has grown up a bit, but I don’t want to lose my edge all the way. I will do a post on clothes at some point. Until then…a good place for fitted shirts for guys… Buckle, Express, Urban Outfitters, Metro Park, and quite a few others. Most downtown areas of the big cities also have tons of little boutiques with private designers.

MOL,

I’m glad you found my site. I have no problem throwing out controversial stuff. I could care less if I rub a few so called fitness gurus the wrong way. I know what works and I do base much about what we talk about on very recent scientific studies. As far as getting slim thighs, avoid things that “pump” the legs. A big tip is to use the treadmill instead of exercise bike. Make sure you create a decent calorie deficit with your diet while doing at least some resistance training a few times per week. That body weight circuit is awesome!

Adam,

Part of the cool thing about Intermittent Fasting is the GH release during the fast during the day. Great reminder about avoiding eating before bed to maximize this at night as well. The last few pounds is where this matters most, just like you said. Great points.

Scott,

Yeah…this doesn’t matter as much if you are just trying to maintain weight…but a great strategy for the last little bit of fat. I always forget my dreams…I wish I could remember more!

rob,

The Warrior Diet works well for some people. I just simply ate too much. The diet made me crave food in a big way…others have better self control.

Mike,

Thanks for including this link. I’ll give it a read.

Jason G,

I think what you said makes sense. People are leanest right before their biggest meal. Calories in and Calories out works, but you can speed that up even more by keeping insulin levels low and stable.

Carb-Junkie,

That is an interesting point. I have never thought of the idea of a night meal making me sleepier the next day. I’ll have to pay attention to that!

Greg,

I also think calories in and calorie out is 80% of the battle. These tweaks are more geared towards those who need every advantage they can get…which are typically people trying to lose that last little bit of fat.

Scott,

True…maybe it would be a good idea to aim for max GH release during the day and night.

Tim,

You should eat a low carb healthy meal, like a chicken salad or chicken stir-fry. Something along those lines. If you can eat dinner at work on your last 15 minute break (6:30’ish)….then do the apple and water thing.

Cseng,

I always look way better when my calories are a bit on the low side. The key is to maintain strength. People almost always eat too much in their quest for protein when getting lean. Also…you don’t need as much protein as what most experts claim.

Sid,

Awesome results over the past 4 months. Good job! Here is my opinion on what you might want to change. Drink your coffee 100% black. This makes a difference. Drop the 11:30 pm protein. Keep everything else you are doing. Your diet and workout looks pretty extreme, so at some point you will want to drop it down to 4 days per week. Also, introduce real food into your diet once you reach your goal.

fitness-siren,

The Eat Stop Eat way of eating pumps up your HGH during the fast, so this will probably make up for your night time meal. Keeping it a little low carb and low cal will help.

Helder,

The people who will benefit most are those who have been eating at night and are at a fat loss plateau. I have to avoid food before bed when I want to get extra lean, but don’t have to be careful the rest of the time.

myra,

Sounds like you figured out a good strategy that works for you. Very cool!

The Spaniard,

Good points..it has been my experience that active guys and girls in their 20’s can get away with more than a 40 year old. A lot of people can get away with eating at night and make decent progress, but I’m betting that most would get quicker results if they didn’t eat so close to bed-time. Either way, people can find out what works best for them.

Justin,

The whole GH equation really makes a difference when someone wants to get really lean. It is one of the things that allows people to burn that last little bit of stubborn fat. A few pounds out, people need every little advantage they can get.

jerdog,

ESE is a great way to imporve HGH release as well as reduce weekly calorie intake. It is a solid strategy for sure!

hugo,

Instead of oatmeal, go for a protein source like yogurt, cottage cheese, glass of milk, etc. You don’t want those carbs right before bed. Other than that it sounds like you are taking the right approach.

Rahul,

Any brand of whey protein is good. Also, believe it or not one of the best protein shakes for muscle gain is chocolate milk. You can drink this about an hour after your workout. I recommend waiting an hour to insure max HGH release…you don’t want a surge in insulin right after lifting in my opinion (people have different opinion on this, but I focus on helping people stay lean).

Michiel,

I’m finding that Mark Sisson’s paleo style of eating, combined with ESE is a simple way to stay around 6-8% body fat. I stay right around 8% year round and don’t worry about hitting 6% until summer. Really as long as my abs look sharp, I don’t sweat the exact percentage. You sound like you are in a great range. Thanks for the compliment…I appreciate all the comments.

Methuselah,

Great strategy with the fast…I will try that as well. Also…I am seeing your Paleo Videos everywhere! Congrats on getting those videos to go viral. You deserve it!

Cheers,

Rusty

keith May 17, 2009 at 10:40 pm

hey rusty how many pounds of body fat is eqaul to 1% of it. Also i am 6ft and 169 pounds, and still cant really see my abs. If i lose 15 pounds and go down to 154 will that too skinny for my height. thanks

leftfield May 18, 2009 at 4:34 am

i think the benefits of not eating a few hours before bed may well be due to simple calorie restriction, if you leave a 5 hour gap, then sleep for 8 & eat an hour after getting up thats 14 hours without food! you’re going to benefit for GH release & fat oxidation due to low insulin but ultimately you’ve cut eating time down for the day to just 10 hours, 14 hours on empty is mild IF’ing, i think this is a good trick for getting ripped.

DonΓ© May 18, 2009 at 5:13 am

Hey Rusty

Thanks again for the post – its brilliant. I was wondering about this.

For me its a bit difficult to eat 4-5 hours before bed… cos i gym in the morning.. and at night – and like gyming on fasted state. So when i get home around 8pm – that’s when i start cooking and eating… and ill be in bed by 10-11pm.

Do you think eating big at lunch time – and then a salad at night will help for this? Instead of doing it the other way round. Also – i’m doing low carb and low cal. (my normal suppers are meat with salad/veg)

Thanks Dude!

πŸ™‚

John May 18, 2009 at 12:16 pm

I work in a restaurant so I have late hours and when I get home I’m often starved. But I found I could get and stay lean by having a little discipline and eating about half of what I normally would have before going to bed (about an hour later). So for instance if I cooked up a burger, I’d just cut it in half and eat the other half sometime later. Plus, I slept better because my body wasn’t churning away on trying to digest this huge meal.

Jason G May 18, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Keith,

Divide your body weight by 100. You will go down one percentage point of fat if you loose 1.69 pounds of fat. If you were a 250 pound person it would be about 2.5 pounds of fat.

I am 6’2 and have calculated that I will be at 8 percent body fat around 175 lbs. I am decently muscular. I think you want to be at least 165 lbs at 6 feet. You should probably consider doing a muscle building routine, because one subject Rusty hasn’t touched on is how unflattering a really skinny ripped(but with no muscular shape) guy can be. I’m not saying this is you, but if your 169 and you can’t see your six pack than you probably have a high body fat percentage which makes your lean body mass(body weight less body fat) sound small.

Jason G May 18, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Rusty,

Thanks for your comment and I agree with you. I do think eating cleanly helps, but ultimately people trying to lose weight should be calorie conscious. Sure if people only eat leafy vegetables than they will probably only consume five hundred calories in their day and can probably stop watching calories. However even us Paleo eaters still need to limit avocados, nuts, healthy cooking oils, and even lean meats if we want to lose weight because of their high calorie content. Eating cleanly can be dangerous to the weight loss process if the dieter consumes more calories as a result of it.

So my point was that “how much calories?” should be the main question on a dieters mind not ” what type of calories?” and “when should I consume these calories?”. That being said like you said above the latter questions can help fine tune the process.

Greg May 18, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Rusty,

I am currently in the process of losing those last 7.5 pounds of fat. I have had to become even more strict in my calorie intake in the last few weeks to get here. I was wondering, what the heck makes me so ridiculously hungry at night (to the point of tears in my eyes as I watch the food channel)? Is my metabolism going insane and should I take advantage of this, maybe even do a late night cardio session?

-Greg

katie May 18, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Hey Rusty-

Great article–being healthy and in shape has always been very important to me, but it gets tough some times as I do love to eat. It may sound childish, but I’ve found that I’m happier in the morning when I go to bed on an empty stomach, as eating too much before bed makes me feel sick.

I do snack though, and normally limit myself to about 200 calories up to 1.5 hours before bed (if my day of eating has allowed me to eat 200 extra calories) even on days where I have a larger bank of unused calories. My favorite snacks are uncooked carrots, mini pretzles, and cereal.

If anyone’s having trouble dieting/get snack happy at night, I’d recommend the cereal snack. It requires slight preparation and utensils, so it’s meal-like. Make sure that when you go to the grocery store, you spend a little extra time in the cereal isle–you don’t want to end up with a high calorie cereal. Go with low sugar and high nutrition.

Also–I’ve always heard the phrase “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper.” What’s your take?

Thanks!

M0L May 18, 2009 at 9:00 pm

I don’t have a threadmill, but I have an elliptical…how about that one?

keith May 18, 2009 at 9:13 pm

thanks jason g

admin May 20, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Keith,

As far as pounds per body fat percentage. That changes depending upon how much you weigh. To be honest, I don’t get too hung up on the number. You will begin to see you abs around the 10-12% range…and will be extremely sharp at 6%…anything in between that is ideal.

leftfield,

Great point and is probably a huge contributor to why this works. I’ve never thought of it like that. A brilliant way of looking at it!

Done,

Eating the lighter meal at night will be the way to go in your case. It sounds like the ideal strategy for you.

John,

If you are starving, then eating a little like you are doing is probably ideal. I’m betting that your body soaks up the nutrients and by bed time you are good.

Jason G,

Thanks for explaining the calculation…my brain is tired. Also, probably good advice for Keith on adding a bit of muscle. My guess is that any type of training is going to put a natural amount of muscle on his frame. He will also probably fill out a bit as he gets older (my guess is that he is a young guy). And yep…calories are a big deal for sure.

Greg,

I would definitely not do a cardio session if you are in this state. If you are this hungry you may need to eat a little something. Quick question…how long have you been on this diet? The only reason I ask is that there seems to be a period of 2-3 weeks where this can happen. As your body becomes more efficient at using stored body fat for energy this won’t be as much of an issue.

katie,

Your strategy seems to work for you well. For me, pretzels and cereal make it hard for me to drop the last little bit of fat. I could just be extra sensitive to these type of carbs…everyone is different. As fa as the phrase “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper”…I don’t think it is necessary to portion the meals like this. I do the exact opposite for the most part. For 5 days a week, I only eat fruit and yogurt or a small omlette for breakfast. For lunch, I’ll have leftovers from dinner the night before. My dinner is about the same size as my lunch. On my fasting days, I don’t eat anything until dinner and it is a medium sized dinner (most of the time…ocassionally I go out to eat at night).

MOL,

I think ellipticals can work, but you have to push yourself hard.

Rusty

Studio Element Personal Training May 21, 2009 at 9:30 pm

I generally give the advice of not eating anything at least 1 hour prior to bed. I have had the most success personally and professionally with this advice.

Greg May 22, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Rusty,

I’ve been on this diet since January 19th. I started out at 256+ and am now 221.2. The severe hunger issues at night has been more of an issue this last month of dieting as I am making the final push to 215.6 (4% estimated body fat goal).

I am 6’3″ and big boned, I try not to eat more than 1750-2000 calories a day at this stage in the dieting. Thursdays are my weigh in days, and I also treat myself to a Woodgrill buffet for sanity reasons and a mental recharge. I do high intensity cardio every day of the week in the mornings on an empty stomach with caffeine in the system in addition to low rep low volume lifting. This is the gist of what I have been doing to get to this point, giving me an average of 2.06 pounds lost per week for the last 3 weeks.

Is this severe night hunger because of my calorie intake? I don’t want to change the calorie intake because I feel like my body metabolism has already adjusted so much since I began the diet over 4 months ago (hitting the law of diminishing marginal returns).

admin May 22, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Greg,

Yeah…you are hungry because of your calorie intake. I eat less calories, but I’m lighter and probably don’t workout as hard as you. It sounds like you are doing the right thing…the good thing is that once you reach your goal, you will be able to eat higher calories. Keep up the good work. It won’t be long!

Rusty

Sam May 26, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Rusty,
Just wanted to know do you believe that counting calories is neccesary to get very lean (like around 5-6%). I am an 18 year old guy and I have always been lean. Even if I eat complete garbage my bodyfat is usually around 8% but now I’m trying to get it down to 5. Recently I have started to eat almost entirely paleo like you reccomend. For breakfast I have 3 scrambled eggs almonds and some type of fruit, for lunch I have tuna salad on whole grain bread (not exactly paleo) almonds fruit and vegetables, and for dinner chicken with vegetables and an occassional serving of extra fruit, then about an hour or two before bed I’ll have some cottage cheese. Is this an effective diet plan to reach my goal of 5% body fat (I am running and working out fairly often). Or do I need to start actually monitoring my calorie intake to reach my goal.

Emily August 3, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Eating right before bed is never good. Especially if you are trying to loose weight. If you eat right before bed, your body tends to want to turn the energy into fat right away instead of burning the calories. In short terms, you are more likely to gain weight if you eat right before bed.

Nancy D September 8, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Probably the most important things is what you feel comfortable with and this probably also depends on what it is your going to eat as well. I would have to say that I would not eat at least 2 hours before sleeping and this seems to work out well for me. No indigestion or discomfort of any kind. Great to hear all your breakdown on the question though. Thanks.

HGH Talk October 3, 2009 at 6:00 am

I don’t eat for at least 4 hours before sleep. The liver and the body needs to rest, and this is also the time to take a HGH supplement.

HGH supplements should only be taken on an empty stomach in order for them to work!

ruthie October 1, 2010 at 10:00 am

hey, i just came across this website and your comment. and i am curious…you said working your muscles to failure is a no no. i have also read tons of times that this is what is recommended. so what have you found that we should do instead? thanks, ruthie

John February 26, 2011 at 5:47 pm

HGH Talk,

I hope you’re taking HGH supplements under a physician’s supervision.

On a second note, your liver is hardly resting when you don’t eat. Post-meal, what organ do you think stores extra glucose as glycogen? During fasting (like while sleeping), which organ do you think is actively breaking down glycogen to release the glucose back into the blood? When said glycogen runs out (around 3-4am for most people), which organ do you think converts amino acids into glucose?

andy March 28, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Rusty,
i was wondering what you would recommend for someone like myself who doesn’t finish with the gym till say 10pm. ive just started your workout program including the HIIT and not eating 3-4 hrs before my workout. but after im done im kind of confused on what i should do. should i have a shake and eat? or just eat? i go to bed no later than midnight so that gives me only 2 hrs in between. my average weight is 150 with app. 10% BF. and looking to get around 6 or 7.
Thanks, i wish i would have discovered you earlier. what you do here is top notch, thank you for your time. Andy.

Darren@MorePrimeTime.com July 2, 2011 at 12:15 am

I agree that getting lean requires a short fast before bed. If I eat later than I should, I find that running a couple of miles takes care of the blood sugar/insulin issue and I am still able to burn fat as I sleep.

David C September 21, 2012 at 8:47 am

I’m 50 now, and cannot eat before going to bed unless its around 5-6pm that will give me 4 hours to settle before getting the head down. I found that eating 20 minutes before bed was asking for trouble,( party food choccies etc) sore stomach and severe abdominal pain followed around 2-3 am waking with the feeling of someone pressing down on my stomach and could not pass stools for the pain in my stomach a visit to the hospital followed with the Doc advising me stop the midnight feasts, I now do not eat any more at bed time and I sleep better!

Beauty Tip Blog October 2, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I don’t think it matters what time of day you eat, since calories consumed vs. calories expended still determines weight loss. Having said that, most of us who eat right before bed haven’t been fasting throughout the rest of the day.

a October 14, 2012 at 6:48 am

Good replies in return of this query with firm arguments and explaining the whole thing concerning that.

Nitric Power Muscle August 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm

What’s up, I log on to your blog regularly. Your humoristic style is witty, keep doing what you’re doing!

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