Q:

I'm looking to lose a few pounds. Will a late dinner stop me from doing so?

I work out at the gym in the evenings till around 9. Is it alright to have a late dinner or should I just drink a protein shake and have some fruit? I looking to lose a few pounds, will the late dinner stop me from doing so as I usually sleep at around 11 to midnight? Evelyn Singapore

Oct 3, 2005
Outside
Outside Magazine
A:

Scientific research shows that it isn't when you take your calories in but rather how many you take in, that affects weight. So, while many people think that calories eaten before bedtime are somehow more damaging to weight management than calories eaten at other times of the day, that really isn't true. What is true is that people often overeat in the evening (i.e. mindlessly munching while watching television) or choose unhealthy snacks at night (a lot of people find it easier to binge on potato chips at night rather than for breakfast), both of which can lead to weight gain.

So, as long as you are eating appropriately at other times of the day and choosing a healthy option for dinner, a late meal shouldn't get in the way of your weight loss. There are some issues to pay attention to, however. First of all, are you having anything to eat prior to going to the gym, or are you not having anything besides a midday lunch? If either of these are the case, you may be depriving yourself of some energy that you could put to good use during your workout. You could try having a light meal late in the afternoon before you go work out; you don't want so many calories that you feel sluggish during exercise but, say, a sandwich with some lean meat, veggies, and whole wheat bread could do you a world of good. Then, after your workout, you can have another light meal; you'll likely be hungry.

That brings up a second point: after a workout, particularly a strenuous one, you do want to replace your fuel stores with some carbohydrate and a little bit of protein. A small protein shake, along with some good quality carbohydrate such as rice or whole grain bread, is a good option. The more strenuous the workout is, the more important it is to replenish those energy reserves.

You don't want to overeat at any of your meals, be it breakfast or a late-night dinner, if you're trying to lose weight. However, don't let calorie restriction get in the way of your ability to exercise hard. You need to have enough energy to complete full-length, high-quality workouts in order to get the most out of your training which, in turn, supports your goal of losing weight.

Filed To: Nutrition, Weight Loss

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