Does Night Eating Make You Gain Weight?

by Alejandra "Alex" Ruani — Get free science updates here.

Conveniently download this 72-page Science Report. Contains links to extra reading materials and scientific references.

“Never eat after 6:00pm!” “Don’t snack after dinner!”

Many people think eating at night makes you gain weight.

But does it really make a difference whether you eat your spaghetti bolognaise at 5:00pm or at 10:00pm?

Is it better to eat a big breakfast than a big evening meal?

How could eating at night cause weight gain? Have scientists thoroughly investigated this?

And, if night eating does lead to weight gain, is there anything you can do to avoid or minimise it?

We’re going to examine 4 theories as to why night eating might cause weight gain, by explaining their principles and seeing whether they have been proven or disproven in scientific studies.

Then, we’ll pull together what we’ve learned from each of these theories into some practical tips for you!

This is one of our most comprehensive reports, where we put science to the test, to find out whether eating late really does cause weight gain (or not!).

Grab “Does Night Eating Make You Gain Weight?”  below:


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Conveniently download this 72-page Science Report. Contains links to extra reading materials and scientific references.

Topics covered in this report:

  1. Do you get the munchies at night?
  2. “In theory…”
  3. Theory 1: Night eating and weight gain
    • Where should we start?
    • Keeping tabs
    • “You’ve already finished eating?!”
    • Weekends: where it all goes wrong?
    • Theory 1: Satiety signalling
    • Eating speed and satiety
    • “I’m still feeling peckish”
    • The Achilles heel of Theory 1
    • Is evening snacking the issue?
  4. Theory 2: Night eating and weight gain
    • There’s more to satiety than the gut
    • Figure 1: Satiety hormone leptin
    • Weight: a ticking time bomb?
    • The rhythm of life
    • Figure 2: A master clock’s symphony
    • Against the clock
    • Ramadan’s night eaters
    • Night eating, leptin, and weight
    • Later leptin
    • Figure 3: Appetite during Ramadan
    • Madar’s mission
    • Insulin and leptin
    • Theory 2: Shifting hormone rhythms
    • Carb-loading at dinner time
    • Late eaters vs early eaters
    • If not leptin, what else?
    • Ramadan: not just a fast, but a feast
  5. Theory 3: Night eating and weight gain
    • Synchronised clocks
    • Why keep to time?
    • Other zeitgebers
    • Fighting for survival
    • Figure 4: 24-hour food metabolism
    • Follow the light, or follow the food?
    • Theory 3: Clocks in conflict
    • Adapting to a new eating window
    • Predictability matters
    • Skipping daytime meals
    • Figure 5: Food, your new zeitgeber
    • The search must go on
  6. Theory 4: Night eating and weight gain
    • TEF 101
    • Do you burn less calories at night?
    • Lower TEF, more weight?
    • Another nocturnal TEF study
    • Figure 6: Morning vs evening TEF
    • 2,700 reasons not to eat?
    • Dinner: to skip or not to skip
    • In science, context matters!
  7. Let’s wrap up
  8. Table: Preventing Weight Gain
  9. Your key takeaways
  10. Learn more
  11. References and resources


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Alex Ruani leads the research division at The Health Sciences Academy, where she and her team make sense of complex scientific literature and translate it into easy-to-understand practical concepts for students. She is a Harvard-trained scientific researcher who specialises in cravings and appetite neurobiology, nutrition biochemistry, and nutrigenomics. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition science, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free Science Catch-ups every other Thursday.
Connect with Alex via email.

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