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Can Eating at Night Cause Weight Gain?

It could be the delicious smells coming from the neighbor's apartment or the boredom that sets in as Orange is the New Black buffers — yet again — but there's something about the late-night hours that have most of us reaching for snacks.

Though late-night munchies satisfy the taste buds, they often leave us feeling guilty. It's all the midnight snacking that makes it impossible to lose weight, after all—at least that's what many of us believe. But a video by Picture Fit, a YouTube channel devoted to explaining all things dietary, calls on new research to debunk the long-held assumption that noshing before bed causes weight gain. According to the clip, there is a correlation between eating at night and obesity, but it's not the act or timing of snacking that's to blame. It's what people are putting into their mouths that's the problem. At night, people are more likely to eat starchy, calorie-filled foods like ice cream and pizza, which can contribute to weight gain. But as the video explains, ingesting excess calories at any time of the day would have the same effects on the body.

Nutritionist Manuel Villacorta, R.D., who was not involved with the making of the video, suggests sticking to a night-time snack with less than 300 calories. Carrots with hummus, an apple and slices of cheese, or a slice of whole grain bread with natural peanut butter all fit the bill. That said, there are some people that benefit from giving themselves an eating cut-off time. If you tend to mindlessly snack on large portions while watching TV after dinner or you find yourself stress-eating at night, giving yourself a rough nighttime eating cut-off time can help you ward off weight gain.

Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more about Dana Leigh