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Poke around online for weight loss tips, and you’ll invariably come across the idea that you shouldn’t eat at night. 


Proponents of this idea usually claim that your metabolism doesn’t work as well at night, and thus any calories you eat are more likely to be stored as fat instead of being burned for energy. 

Sounds … kind of scien-y-ish … but is it true? 

Does your metabolism really slow down as the day drags on? 

Are calories eaten in the evening inherently more fattening than calories eaten in the morning?

Can eating more calories in the morning and fewer calories in the evening really help you lose weight? 

You’ll learn the answers to all of these questions in this podcast. 

You’ll learn exactly why people think eating at night makes you gain weight, what really causes weight gain (hint: it’s not eating at night), and what science actually says about how late-night eating affects your metabolism.

Let’s get to it!


3:44 – Does your metabolism get slower as the day goes on? Is your metabolism at its highest in the morning? 

9:15 – Does intermittent fasting help you lose body fat? 

19:41 – Does eating at night reduce your quality of sleep? 

Mentioned on the show: 

Books by Mike Matthews

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


And we’re back to talk yet again about how to get fitter, leaner, and stronger. I’m Mike Matthews. This is Most for Life. Welcome, welcome. Thank you for taking the time to hear my words. And today’s words are gonna be about eating at night. This is something that I once. Thought led to fat gain. And I guess to give myself some credit, I wasn’t sure that it did, but I once thought that, oh, was an expert say that it does.

So I don’t know. Experts are experts, right? They know things. They’re probably right. And so back in the day, I used to watch my calories after dinner. I used to eat most of my calories early in the day. I thought this was. Important that your meals get smaller as the day goes on. And I remember what I had heard, I probably had read it in a fitness magazine or something, is that your metabolism is higher in the morning and lower at night.

And this of course, quote unquote made sense because at night your body’s winding down and getting ready to go to sleep. So your meta. BIC rate declines and just as your body temperature declines. And so again, I didn’t really look into it at the time, but I was like, yeah, sure, I guess whatever. And uh, so what I used to do is I used to eat more calories.

Like I’d eat a big breakfast and then a little bit of a smaller lunch, and then a little bit of a smaller dinner, and I would have a couple snacks in between. And then I usually wouldn’t eat after maybe six or 7:00 PM. Because I thought that eating at night, you know, if I had something, especially if I had carbs or sugar, for example, at, ah, maybe 9:00 PM or whatever the, the cutoff was, I’d heard different things.

Some people said, oh, they’d actually like, give a specific time. Yeah. Eight or 9:00 PM That’s, that’s the cutoff. That’s when the metabolic switch turns off. And you don’t want to be eating, uh, particularly carbs before you go to bed. Cause they all get stored as fat. Right. Well, How true is that? That’s what we’re gonna be talking about in today’s episode.

Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my health and fitness books, including the number one best selling weightlifting books for men and women in the world, bigger, lean, or stronger, and. Thinner, leaner, stronger, as well as the leading flexible dieting cookbook, the Shredded Chef.

Now, these books have sold well over 1 million copies and have helped thousands of people build their best body ever, and you can find them on all major online retailers like Audible, Amazon, iTunes, Cobo, and Google Play, as well as. In Select Barnes and Noble stores. And I should also mention that you can get any of the audiobooks 100% free when you sign up for an Audible account.

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So again, if you appreciate my work and if you wanna see more of it, and if you wanna learn time proven and evidence-based strategies for losing fat, building muscle, and getting healthy, and strategies that work for anyone and everyone, regardless of age or circumstances, please do consider picking up one of my best selling books.

Bigger, leaner, stronger for Men, thinner, leaner, stronger for Women. And the shredded chef for my favorite fitness friendly recipes.

All right, so let’s start with this claim that your metabolism gets slower as the day goes on, and that it’s at its highest in the morning. Well, that’s not true. Research conducted by scientists at the U S D A has shown, for example, that your basal metabolic rate, the amount of calories that you burn if you don’t move around, just kind of sitting there staying alive.

It doesn’t change significantly at any point in the day, even when you’re asleep, much less. When you are getting ready to go to sleep, so what that means is your b m r, your, your metabolism, your metabolic rate, it kind of just hums along at the same rate, whether it’s the morning, the afternoon, or the evening, and also when you’re asleep.

And what’s more is even if your metabolic rate did drop. In the evening, calories eaten. When you are burning less energy wouldn’t just magically become fat, right? You’re not, that’s, that’s not magically fattening because body fat stores are dictated by energy balance, right? They’re dictated by calories in versus calories out, and so long as you have that equation balanced, the in and the out, when you eat those calories, Doesn’t really matter.

Just as there is nothing inherently fattening or thinning or slimming about individual foods. There’s nothing inherently fattening or slimming about certain times in the day. Certain feeding windows. Now, some people acknowledge that, but they say there still are some benefits to eating less at night, for example.

There is research that is often cited as evidence of this, that shows that eating more calories earlier in the day may help increase what is known as the thermic effect of food, which is the amount of energy it costs to digest and absorb. The food that you eat. So for example, there was a study that was conducted by scientists at the University of Lubec, and they split 16 healthy non-obese participants in a supervised lab setting into two groups.

One group ate the majority of their calories at breakfast, so it was about 70% of their total daily calories at breakfast. And then they had a small dinner, the remaining calories at dinner, and then you had the other group do the opposite. They ate most of their calories at dinner. With the minority of their calories at breakfast, and the calories in macros were matched between the grooves, meaning that they ate the same amount of calories every day and their macros were the same.

And the result was, what the scientists found is that the large breakfast group experienced over twice as much thermic effective food t EF as the large dinner group, which meant that the large breakfast group was burning about 50 to a hundred more calories per day simply by. Moving their calories around simply by eating the majority of their calories earlier in the day versus later in the day.

And if you did that seven days a week, that’s fairly significant, right? That’s about a fifth, a pound of fat, for example. It’s not a game changer, but it would qualify as a benefit. Right that some people might care about enough to set up their diet that way. Many people don’t like eating breakfast, and they wouldn’t do it for an extra 700 ish calories burned per week, but some people would.

Now, the large breakfast group also reported having lower levels of hunger throughout the day and fewer cravings for sweets, so more benefits, and that would make that setup more appealing to people. Including people who don’t like eating breakfast. If you have someone who doesn’t like eating breakfast, but when they’re cutting, they struggle with hunger and they struggle with cravings.

And if they’re like, uh, if I, if I just ate a big breakfast and then I could dramatically reduce my hunger and my cravings and burn a bit more calories and I’ll do it. And with some people, that’s kind of where the discussion ends. And so they end off saying, and you see science shows that this is how it is.

Yeah, not really, because there are some problems with this research that actually make it hard to say how effective this strategy really is that what you should really expect. So for example, the participants were not exercising and we know that exercise can increase the thermic effective food.

Regardless of what you eat now, exercise also has positive effects on appetite and so that could have affected the results, meaning that you are probably exercising if you’re cutting, for example, you’re probably doing quite a bit of exercise and so you may not see the benefits that the people in this study saw because you may be already reaping as much of a, a boost to d e F as you can through your workouts, and the same might.

Be true for appetite regulation as well. Again, if you take someone who is exercising quite a bit and you just shift their calories around, you may not see any improvement in appetite above and beyond what they’re already experiencing from the exercise. You might, but that research hasn’t been done. Now, what is also important to know is there have been.

Many other studies on this topic, not just this one study that’s often been held up and cherry picked as conclusive evidence. And the majority of these studies that have looked at this have shown that skipping breakfast altogether or eating more calories in the evening has no impact on weight loss or fat loss.

In other words, people who eat most or even all of their calories in the evening lose just as much weight as people who eat more or all of their. Calories in the morning. And a good example of that is intermittent fasting. This is a popular strategy, a popular dietary strategy, particularly a cutting strategy, which mostly and usually just boils down to skipping breakfast, right?

And you just eat most of your calories later in the day. You might start eating at 12 or 1:00 PM and then. Finish around eight or so, and that’s it. That’s your feeding window for the day. 16 eight. You’ve probably heard of that approach, right? Martin Burk popularized it years ago, at least in the body composition space with his lean gains method, which is 16 hours of fasting and eight hours of not eating, but you have eight hours to eat all of your calories, you know, eat for eight hours straight.

And I believe, if I remember correctly, his original protocol shifted the fasting hours. Down a little bit for women cuz women tend to struggle more with the longer fasts than men. I believe women fast for 14 hours, I think, and they’re eating window is 10 hours. But regardless, there are different types of intermittent fasting protocols out there, but a lot of them do just kind of boil down to skipping breakfast.

And we know, for example, that intermittent fasting can work just fine. You can lose fat well on it. With intermittent fasting you can preserve muscle, but. It doesn’t give you any major advantages. It’s just as good as traditional normal dieting, but it does not appear to be any better. And a great study that one of the best studies, I think, on intermittent fasting that has been done yet, and there’s one underway that is also very high quality that I actually helped fund and provide protein powder for, and that’s being run by Meno Hanselman’s.

And I think it’s gonna wrap up this year actually, and I’ll have Meno onto the show to talk about it once he’s ready to do that. But the study I want to share with you today was conducted by scientists at Kennesaw State University, and they took 26 young active men, and they had them maintain a high protein calorie restrict diet, about a 25% deficit.

And follow a strength training program for four weeks. This was three days a week. Strength training, full body workouts, well designed like hard workouts, good resistance training, good weightlifting, and half of these guys consumed all of their calories from around noon to 8:00 PM. Right. So that’s like your standard lean gains approach.

They skipped breakfast basically, and the other half, the other group just followed a normal meal schedule, eating sometime in the morning and then finishing sometime at dinner or slightly after dinner. And what the scientists found is after a month, both of the groups lost the same amount of fat. They gained more or less the same amount of muscle, and they experienced the same levels of hunger.

And there actually were quite a few. Other measurements that were taken, uh, for body composition and psychological data points. And basically there was no meaningful difference whatsoever across the board. And that’s great to know that if you like doing intermittent fasting, you can do it. And of course, this is not the only study indicating that there’s, uh, another study, for example, that was conducted by scientists at Texas.

Tech university. There was another one done at the University of Sydney that found more or less the same thing. Eating breakfast doesn’t generally improve weight loss and skipping breakfast doesn’t improve it either. You do do what you like and eating more at night doesn’t improve it. It doesn’t decrease weight loss or fat loss.

Do what you like and. There is some research out there that shows that some people tend to eat less when they eat more earlier in the day, whereas some people tend to eat less when they eat more later in the day, and that makes sense. That’s just knowing what works well for you. Right. If you’re the type of person who naturally is just not hungry in the morning, then you have no reason to force feed yourself in the morning because someone says, some study says that, oh, eating breakfast is super important because it helps you control your hunger and it reduces cravings.

Yes, in some people you might not be one of those people, and remember that whenever you’re hearing about research, because there are always people who don’t respond well to interventions, like take creatine for example. The most well studied molecule in all of sports nutrition, and the one that you can say unequivocally, quote unquote.

Works. Yes, it does, but not in everyone. When you look into any meta-analysis, for example, on it, you’ll find in the data which has been collected from many, many studies, there are many people who just don’t respond to creatine. They take it and nothing happens. Now they’re in the minority, but they’re out there.

So just keep that in mind with eating patterns, with eating schedules. If you know that again, let’s say you’re not hungry in the morning. And you tend to get hungrier later in the day. Well then you can set up your meal plan to reflect that. You don’t have to eat a big breakfast. You don’t have to eat a breakfast at all if you don’t want to.

That’s kind of how I eat. I do eat a breakfast, but it’s just a protein shake. I like to mix one scoop of my plant-based protein called Thrive, which is actually being renamed to Plant Plus. Cause it turns out the Thrive Trademark is owned by. Some other company and they reached out. They were cool about it.

They just asked us to, to change the name and so we’re changing it to Plant Plus, but I take one scoop of what is right now, thrive and soon to be Plant Plus, and then I mix it with one scoop of way. I put it in the, what is it, the bullet, the magic bullet, whatever that thing is, you know, the little bullet blender thing.

And I put some ice cubes in there and blend it up and it’s delicious. I look forward to it every day. I look forward to it right now, just thinking about it. And, but that’s it, that, that’s my breakfast. And my lunch is light. I have a salad. Several servings of greens. So there’s spinach in there and there’s usually green lettuce or red lettuce.

And these days I’m putting in some arugula and maybe I’ll have some roasted vegetables to throw in there and some protein of some kind. Usually ground chicken or ground beef and you know, pretty light lunch. And then I will have another scoop of protein powder, eh, maybe around three or four. And so when it comes time for dinner, I haven’t eaten very many calories, and that’s just how I like to eat.

I don’t like the feeling of having a big meal in me when I’m trying to do my work because a lot of my work requires me to focus and to think. And if I eat too much food, there is a point where if you, we, we’ve all experienced this, like you eat enough calories and you just start to slow down, you just start to get that lethargic kind of feel, and that gets in the way of my work.

And so as I’ve eaten like this for a while, my body’s just gotten used to it, where I generally don’t get very hungry. But if I’m gonna feel any sort of hunger, it’s gonna be later in the day. And so my calories ramp up as the day goes on. I’ll eat a pretty substantial dinner. I get a lot of, it’s a lot of vegetables and protein, but I’ll add some sort of carbs.

It really depends on what my wife is making and, uh, what I, what I feel like having. Uh, but I eat just as, just many calories, I would say at an after dinner as I do so in, in that small window of. Maybe just a couple of hours. I’m eating just as many calories as I’ve eaten, uh, up until that point, right? And I wake up at five 30 or six in the morning, and I’m not eating dinner usually until seven to eight.

And that works well for me, but that may not work for you. Now you might be able to force yourself to do it long enough where you will get used to it, but there’s no reason to do that. If you’re the other way around and you wake up very hungry and you like to have a substantial breakfast, maybe you also like breakfast foods more than dinner foods, for example.

So you prefer to give over more calories to breakfast so you can eat the yummy stuff that you like, and then have your calories kind of taper off as the day goes on. That’s totally fine. Do what works for you. Once again, if you’d rather just skip breakfast altogether and eat all your calories in a eight hour window or a 10 hour window, or even a six hour window, totally fine.

You can do that so long as you make sure that your calories by the end of the day are more or less where they need to be. They don’t need to be perfect. Of course. Remember that. Your total daily energy expenditure is a moving target. You’re never gonna hit it. Exactly. But you know, you try to be within 50 maybe when I’m cutting I, I like to try to be within 50 calories of my target by the end of the day.

And when I’m maintaining or lean bulking, I’m willing to be a little bit more loosey-goosey. I like to be within a hundred calories of my target if I’m maintaining or lean bulking. And if you do that and you make sure that your macros are also mostly right, you make sure your protein is mostly right, that’s the most important thing, and then you’re.

Carbs and fats are mostly where you want them to be. You are going to do great. If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my health and fitness books, including the number one best selling weightlifting books for men and women in the world. Bigger, leaner, stronger, and thinner.

Leaner, stronger, as well as the leading flexible dieting cookbook, the Shredded Chef. If for whatever reason you like eating a lot of calories later at night, you can do that as well. It’s totally fine. Although I will say that research shows that many people find if they eat too much later at night, like within a couple of hours of going to bed.

It reduces the quality of their sleep. So keep that in mind. If you tend to eat larger meals later and you don’t sleep well, that would be a reason to try something different. That’d be a reason to eat. You can still have the big dinner or the big meal. Maybe it’s a, an after dinner meal. If it’s an after dinner meal, you might want to rethink things a little bit.

I have a neighbor that does this, for example, she says that, um, she doesn’t really eat anything throughout the day because she’s busy, she’s working and she doesn’t make the time to meal prep, and then she eats. All of her calories at dinner and then, uh, kind of like a, a round two dinner after that. And that is okay, theoretically if it’s not causing any issues.

And I actually didn’t ask her if she has sleep issues, but if she does, that would be one thing I would suggest. That she changes right away. I would say have the big dinner. That’s probably fine if you’re eating it, you know, five or six hours or so. Let’s say four to six hours before bed, but, uh, a big meal, just an hour or so before bed.

Not a good idea if you, if you were having sleep trouble. So smarter would be, let’s take those calories and let’s give you a lunch for example. How about that? Can we, can we put together a lunch, skip breakfast, have coffee for breakfast? And just get going. And then can we give you a lunch so then you can have your nice dinner and you could even have a, maybe a little snack if you’re hungry.

Let’s say dinner’s at seven or something and she’s going to bed at 12. I don’t know exactly what her schedule is, but let’s just say that’s what it is. And then probably she gets up early, so that’s probably not what it is. Uh, she’s probably going to bed around 10 or 11, but regardless, there could be a little snack in there, but.

For me, for example, uh, I wouldn’t eat more than probably just a serving of protein an hour or two before bed or a serving of carbs. I guess if I felt like eating carbs, but it would usually be protein because research shows that having some protein before bed, if you’re not eating your dinner, You know, an hour or two before bed, but let’s say you eat your dinner and then you have several hours before bed, that having a a serving of protein can help you gain muscle faster over time.

And that’s not because I’ve, I’ve written, spoken about this before, so I won’t go on a long tangent, but I’ll just quickly say it’s not because. Your body goes into a catabolic state when you sleep in. The only way to avoid that or to reduce the catabolic effects of sleep is eating protein before bed.

That’s not why. It’s actually just because when your body gets done processing the protein that you’ve eaten, your body’s muscle building machinery can no longer do anything. It just sits there idle, waiting for more raw materials to to build. Muscle with right amino acids. And so let’s say you eat dinner at six and you have a good serving of protein.

You go to bed at 11, your body is almost certainly done processing everything that you ate, uh, especially the, the protein. And so what that means then is let’s say you’re in bed for eight hours, your body can’t repair muscle. It can’t build up muscle tissue without the building blocks, right? So while you’re sleeping, then.

Again, your body’s muscle building machinery, so to speak, is kind of just sitting there idle, waiting for you to provide it with these building blocks that it needs. And so then by having, uh, serving of slower digesting protein, like this is one of the reasons why Caine is popular. One of the reasons why people like my cassin, for example, and when I say my, I’m talking about Legion, by the way, my sports attrition company.

If you don’t know legion That’s where you’ll find Thrive slash Plant Plus as well as Casing Plus. And one of the reasons why that product is popular is, I mean, some people just like casing and it is a very good casing, very high quality casing, but it’s also popular for pre-bed use. Cause it’s easy, you just mix it with some water, you know, doesn’t have to even use much water so you don’t drink too much and you know, make yourself wake up to pee and you drink it down and that’s it.

Some people also like to mix it with just enough water. To basically turn it into a pudding and casing is good for that, and that’s what I do when I eat it. I also do that with the plant protein in the afternoon. I don’t drink it down. I, I turn it into like a paste. I know I’m weird, but I just like, I like to eat the protein sometimes instead of drink the protein and anyway, so that’s one little benefit.

To eating in the way that I just mentioned, where you have a, a substantial dinner and then if you’re going to bed, let’s say four plus hours after that, having something around probably, I would say 30 to 40 grams of protein, like a good serving of protein right before you go to bed, and that shouldn’t get in the way of your sleep, and it should over time help you gain muscle a little bit faster.

It’s not a game changer. It’s not even necessary if that doesn’t work for you, if you don’t feel like doing it for whatever reason. Don’t bother, but it’s one of those little things that make a little difference. And you get enough of those things though, and those can add up to something significant. And as natural weightlifters, remember, that’s what we, that’s a big part of the game is we’re trying to get every advantage we can get.

Because after our newbie gains are exhausted, it gets. Hard to keep making progress. And so if we can do, let’s say five or six things that in and of themselves aren’t hugely impactful, let’s say they make anywhere from a two to 5% difference, but then altogether, let’s say we’re looking at an 18% difference, we’re gonna gain muscle.

18% faster and we can do it without risking our health and without having to spend too much money and without inconveniencing ourselves too much, it’s worth it. And so eating some protein before you go to bed is one of those little things. Just like taking creatine every day. One of those little things.

In most people, it is going to speed up results enough to make it worth it. And so yeah, that concludes today’s podcast. That’s everything I have to say about eating at night. All right. Well, that’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or.

Wherever you’re listening to me from in whichever app you’re listening to me in, because that not only convinces people that they should check out the show, it also increases search visibility and thus it helps more people find their way to me and learn how to get fitter, leaner, stronger. Healthier and happier as well.

And of course, if you want to be notified when the next episode goes live, then simply subscribe to the podcast and you won’t miss out on any new stuff. And if you didn’t like something about the show, please do shoot me an email at mike muscle for Just muscle f o r and share your thoughts on how I can do this better.

I read everything myself and I’m always looking for constructive feedback. Even if it is criticism, I’m open to it. And of course you can email me if you have positive feedback as well, or if you have questions really relating to anything that you think I could help you with, definitely send me an email.

That is the best way to get ahold of me, mike muscle And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.

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