Fruit juice may seem like a healthy choice — after all, it's from fruit which is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants — but is drinking juice at night good or bad? The truth is, drinking high-sugar drinks like apple juice at night can lead to weight gain instead of weight loss.
That's because the sugar in fruit juice can interfere with hormones like insulin and prompt your body to store fat, instead of losing it. Sugar can also interfere with your sleep, which can make you gain weight over time, too.
If you're trying to lose weight, steer clear of fruit juice at night. The sugar can disrupt your hormones and interfere with your sleep, which can actually contribute to weight gain.
The Sugar in Fruit Juice
Fruit juice is often seen as a healthier alternative to other sugar-sweetened beverages like soda. But, as a May 2019 report in Nutrition, Obesity and Exercise points out, fruit juice contains just as much sugar as those other types of drinks. Even though much of that sugar is natural (unless it's a processed juice that contains added sugar), the report explains that once it's metabolized in your body, your biological response to it is the same.
And according to the Cleveland Clinic, its sugar (not fat) that contributes to weight gain the most. When you eat or drink a lot of sugar, your body responds by pumping out insulin. Insulin helps your body use what it needs for immediate energy, but much of what's left over after that gets stored as fat.
If this keeps happening, your body can eventually become resistant to insulin's effects. This can negatively affect your metabolism and contribute to weight gain and Type 2 diabetes.
Problems can become exacerbated if you drink fruit juice in between meals. An April 2018 report in Nutrition and Diabetes looked at weight gain in participants who drank fruit juice with meals versus in between meals. Researchers found that while drinking fruit juice with meals didn't seem to change metabolism much, drinking fruit juice in between meals led to negative metabolic effects and weight gain, specifically in the form of body fat.
Read more: Juices With the Highest Sugar Content
Sugar and Your Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sugar can disrupt your sleep by pulling you out of a deep sleep, even if you don't wake up. That not only leaves you feeling tired the next day, it can disrupt the hormones that control your appetite.
Researchers from a study that was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in December 2019 looked at how high-carbohydrate foods, like fruit juice, affected sleep in postmenopausal women and found that a higher intake of high glycemic carbs is connected to increased rates of insomnia.
That's why drinking juice, even fresh fruit juice, at night isn't a good idea. But the December 2019 report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition points out that if you swap out fruit juice for whole fruit, which is higher in fiber and has a lower glycemic load, it may actually help you sleep better.
Fresh Fruit Juice at Night
Although fruit juice isn't technically considered a meal, a small study on meal timing that was published in the International Journal of Obesity in May 2015 gives clues as to why consuming fruit juice at night can hinder weight loss. According to researchers from the study, consuming foods and drinks later in the day can decrease resting energy expenditure (or the amount of calories you burn doing nothing) and negatively affect the way your body handles glucose.
Researchers went on to say that, over time, this can mess up your metabolism and lead to weight gain, even if the amount of calories you take in is the same.
Because of its high sugar content, fruit juice isn't the best choice for weight loss no matter what time of the day you drink it. But if you do decide to indulge once in a while, add it to your breakfast instead of making it part of your bedtime routine.
- International Journal of Obesity: "Meal Timing Affects Glucose Tolerance, Substrate Oxidation and Circadian-Related Variables: A Randomized, Crossover Trial"
- National Sleep Foundation: "Sweet Dreams: How Sugar Impacts Your Sleep"
- Nutrition, Obesity, and Exercise: "Are Fruit Juices Just as Unhealthy as Sugar-Sweetened Beverages?"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Sugar or Fat: What’s Worse for Your Waistline?"
- Nutrition and Diabetes: "High Orange Juice Consumption With or In-Between Three Meals a Day Differently Affects Energy Balance in Healthy Subjects"
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "High Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Diets as Risk Factors for Insomnia: Analyses From the Women's Health Initiative"
- LIVESTRONG.com: MyPlate Calorie Counter Application