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Eating Late at Night and Not Eating During the Day

by
author image Sarah Nyako
Based in the Washington, D.C. metro area, Sarah Nyako has been writing professionally since 2008. Her area of expertise is health, fitness and the pharmaceutical industry. She is currently working towards a master's degree in medical writing.
Eating Late at Night and Not Eating During the Day
A woman eats lat at night while on the computer. Photo Credit KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

There are a variety of reasons why you may find yourself in the common pattern of eating late at night after skipping meals all day. You may be too busy to stop and eat a meal, or you may simply forget because you aren’t hungry. Or, you may think that eating just once a day can help you cut calories and lose weight. However, this routine is unhealthy and not sustainable in the long run. Your body is a machine that needs to be given fuel regularly to function properly.

Energy

With this eating pattern your body is running on empty all day, which can affect your energy. It’s very likely you won’t have the energy to exercise or simply get through your day as productively as you can. Additionally, a large meal late at night could disturb your sleep, limiting your rest and further reducing your energy levels. According to Ellie Krieger, a registered dietitian quoted on the USA Today website, this pattern is “the opposite of eating for energy.” Instead, eat five to six small meals spread throughout the day.

Effects on Weight

Eating once a day could affect your weight by giving you less energy to work out and also by slowing your metabolism. If you eat only once a day, you may not be getting enough calories -- after all, if you need to eat 1,500 to 2,000 calories in one day, that’s an awful lot to pack into one meal. If you do not get enough calories, you may see a weight drop that may encourage you to continue on this path. However, according to Donald Hensrud, M.D., on MayoClinic.com, much of this weight will be lean tissue. When your body is deprived of fuel, it will start burning muscle tissue for energy. This is destructive when you are trying to lose weight, because your muscle takes a lot of energy to maintain and therefore increases the amount of calories you burn in a day. So, following this eating pattern can lower your metabolism, making it harder to keep off the weight.

Risks

Not eating enough drastically lowers your calorie intake, so you'll face a variety of health problems. According to the Weight-control Information Network, a diet too low in calories can cause fatigue, constipation and nausea. You may also experience lightheadedness and dizziness as your blood sugar levels drop. Additionally, lacking even one nutrient can lead to malnutrition. Malnutrition can cause permanent damage to your body, even after you start eating well again. Not eating deliberately may also lead to nighttime binging and an unhealthy relationship with food.

Alternatives

Remember to eat breakfast every day. If you can’t stomach a large meal early in the morning, make a smoothie with fiber and protein that will keep you full longer. Some fiber and protein sources for a morning smoothie include fruits, psyllium and whole grain cereal for fiber, and soy milk, nuts and yogurt for protein. Eat enough calories to ensure your body has the energy it needs. The bare minimum a woman and a man should eat in a day is 1,200 and 1,500 calories, respectively. Find out how many calories you can eat in a day to maintain your weight using the calculator in the Resources section. If you are trying to lose weight, subtract 500 from that number to lose 1 lb. per week, and 1,000 to lose 2 lb. per week.

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