Is there such a thing as eating too late?

We all have those nights where we are getting home late after a hectic day of work, errands, and barely enough time to stop for a decent meal. It's not uncommon for evening meals to be happening after 8pm in busy households... But is this bad?

It can mean that we aren't consuming the bulk of our calories until the second half of the day which is the time when we are the most inactive as we relax, unwind, and chill out on the couch. This can lead to gradual weight gain- especially if the meals and snacks we choose in the evening are quick, heavy options like pastas, pizza, takeaway curry and rice, or even toast or cereal.

I talk alot to my clients about our "circadian rhythm". The human body is programmed so that our metabolism and hormones do their hardest work during the day when we are more active, then build and recover at night while we sleep. Therefore the best thing that we can do for not only weight management but also for better energy levels, is to provide our bodies with food when it needs it the most, then give ourselves 10-12 hours rest overnight.

However- I know that this doesn't work for everyone. We are busy, we can't always control what time we are eating, and we live social lives that often mean later meals and snacks.

So here are some tips that can point you in the right direction and get you started with fueling your body when it needs it the most, and speeding up the time it takes to prepare an evening meal when arriving home late...

1. Go bigger at lunch time.

Have a really hearty lunch meal which will keep your body full and satisfied all afternoon, then go lighter for your evening meal. So often I see people skimping on lunch and having only a couple of crackers or some fruit and yoghurt. Remember- this meal has to get you through the whole afternoon! Great lunchtime meal options include leftovers, a stir fry with noodles and lean protein, a large meat and salad sandwich or a hot meal from a cafe which includes vegetables and that will keep you full and satisfied for 4-5 hours.

2. Have a bank of quick options

I'm not talking takeaways! Cooking a Thai curry at home is always going to be lighter in calories than buying one from your local Thai place- simply because you can control the amount of oil and sugar added. If you need to rely on quick meals- then think up a bank of 5-15 options that you know are easy, delicious, and don't take a huge amount of effort. Steak and a bag of slaw or salad, frittata with feta and sundried tomatoes, or mexican black bean/ corn/ tomato/ spinach etc salad are some of my favourite go-to options that I always have the ingredients for.

3. Make an extra meal and freeze it

I think there is nothing worse than arriving home tired and hungry and having to think of what to cook for dinner. Avoid this completely by making an effort to prepare 1-2 extra serves of meals as you go about your usual cooking routine and add a portion to your freezer. Single-serve dinners in my freezer at the moment include vegetarian lasagne, soup, mexican mince with rice, and chicken pasta bake. This means that if you really can't be bothered cooking or going to the supermarket- there is always something at home ready to eat!

4. Always prioritise vegetables and protein The later you consume your final meal of the day, the lighter it should be. If we are heading to bed after a massive meal, chances are that our body will be busy digesting our food throughout the night causing restless sleep, bloating, and potentially reflux. Eating heavy, carbohydrate rich meals late at night is related to higher body fat mass and can make you wake up still full the next day and therefore unable to stomach breakfast. If you are following my above advice to enjoy a really hearty, decent lunch then dinner can be a light option like baked fish and salad or veggies, steak and beans, or even an omelette with cheese and vegetables. Remember- a few pieces of toast or a bowl of cereal is not a meal!

For more practical solutions on how to alter your diet for better energy levels and long term weight loss- then let me help you! Work with me in my women's wellness and weight loss program and gain some lifelong knowledge and advice that will make all the difference. If you join before the 11th July 2021- use the code SAVE39 to grab a discount! Learn more HERE.