Eating at Night

Eating at Night


I find that because of my schedule I am eating fairly lightly during the day and then making up for it at night.  I’m also training a lot and wondering if this will counter-balance my eating pattern.  Please let me know your thoughts on this.

Kelli’s Answer:

Thanks for writing in.  Americans’ typical busy lives and schedules make this a reality for many adults (and many kids and teens, unfortunately).  They leave the house without breakfast (coffee’s enough, right?) and work through lunch.  And healthy snacks? The only snacks available are vending machine or doughnuts during a meeting.  All day long, they work without breaks.  When they arrive home and open their front doors, they are ravished.  The first available snack food in sight is consumed.  Then, at dinner, they overeat their meal and go to bed stuffed.  The next morning, they are neither hungry for nor have time for breakfast, and the whole cycle repeats itself.

Athletes are often in this boat.  They consult me because they want to lose a few pounds of fat while maintaining strength and stamina to continue to train well and improve.  But, because they don’t give themselves proper fuel before, during, and after training, they are “starving” throughout the day and into the evening.  And, they’ve earned the right to eat whatever they’d like, right…they’ve trained hard.

If the description above describes your eating pattern, little to no food during the day and then an overconsumption at night, you’re actively killing your metabolism.  First, your body will think it’s starving during the day (slow down the fat breakdown, we’re in survival mode!).  Then, it will require a hormonal shift and a large amount of insulin to take care of a large amount of food, all at once, in the evening (even if it’s healthy foods).  This pattern usually contributes to sleep problems which further degrade your metabolism by affecting hunger/satiety hormones and cortisol, the “stress” hormone (which affects insulin).

In fact, published studies have shown a relationship between omitting breakfast, omitting lunch, and/or overeating at dinner with being obese.  Furthermore, they’ve correlated shift work (and therefore, altered eating and sleeping patterns) with higher BMIs and even chronic disease.

Want to kill your metabolism?  Keep eating too little during the day and too much in the evening.   Want better energy and a fiery metabolism for life?  Start with a consistent, healthy meal pattern with most of your calories during breakfast, lunch, and portion-controlled snacks.  Then, eat an early, light dinner (try 1/2 plate of vegetables and 6 ounce protein on the side).

Fuel your activity during the day, and keep it light at night.

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to