4 things you can do at night to help lose weight

4 things you can do at night to help lose weight

If you’re trying to lose weight and are not noticing a big change, you may be accidentally sabotaging your success every evening.

Michele Stuglis, a registered dietitian at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill., offers four tips for creating healthy nighttime habits and increasing your odds for success.

Eat smart

There are three things to keep in mind, says Stuglis: when you eat, how you eat and what you eat.

“Try to eat your dinner at a reasonable hour, and don’t make it your biggest meal of the day,” says Stuglis. “Don’t eat after 6 or 7 pm, and aim for lots of vegetables and lean proteins. You want to give your body a chance to break it all down before you head to bed.”

Stuglis also stresses the importance of only eating when you’re hungry.

“It seems like common sense, but when they start paying attention, many people are shocked at how often they eat out of habit or boredom. Especially in the evening hours, when out socializing or relaxing on the couch.”

If you must snack after dinner, plan ahead. When it’s late in the evening and you’re craving something sweet or salty, having a low-calorie alternative available and ready to eat can make a big difference.

Stay active

It can be hard to stay active at the end of a long day, but small changes can have a large impact over time.

“If you like to watch tv at night, dust off that treadmill in your basement and do some casual walking while you watch,” says Stuglis. “There is a lot of evidence that sitting is terrible for our health, but being active doesn’t always have to be strenuous and difficult.”

Doing some light chores around the house is another option rather than leaving them all to the weekend. Sweeping, vacuuming, doing laundry or standing to wash dishes all keep you lightly active and can distract you from late-night snack cravings.

Drink water

Drinking water can reduce your appetite, which can help prevent late-night overeating. There is some evidence that drinking water can increase your metabolism, as well. Keeping a water bottle handy can also prevent you from drinking other things that are high in sugar or fat content.

“It’s simple, really: your body needs water. It helps regulate your organ function and keeps you hydrated,” says Stuglis. “Sometimes, when we are thirsty, we mistake it as a hunger cue and reach for snacks instead.”

Stuglis says there’s one other small benefit: the more water you drink, the more often you’ll need to make a trip the restroom.

“If it gets you off the couch or away from your desk at night, even for just a minute, that’s a good thing,” she says.

Sleep well

Some research suggests getting enough sleep can help your body burn fat better. But good sleep can also help you develop good diet habits.

“If you’re chronically tired, you’re more likely to take shortcuts on your health. You may rely on fast food or takeout for lunches and dinner, or stop at your local coffee shop for a calorie-dense gourmet coffee for a caffeine boost,” says Stuglis. “And no one wants to exercise or be active when they’re exhausted.”

Stuglis suggests prioritizing a good night’s sleep whenever possible.

“Small lifestyle changes can go a long way toward successful weight loss,” says Stuglis. “Otherwise, we may be working against ourselves and not even realize it.”

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Comments

6 Comments

  1. Tracey Stills

    I’ve seen many articles posted stated “don’t eat dinner after 6 or 7:oo p.m.” After getting off work at 5 or 5:30, getting home and getting meals ready, what time is it? Everyone doesn’t get off work at 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. In this day and age, I think that time is very unrealistic. What I have done was eaten my largest meal during the day and have my dinner be much lighter because I may not eat until 730 p.m.

  2. You do realize that drinking water at night is not conducive to sleeping well at night, right?

    The interesting thing about drinking is that the body has this amazing built-in way to tell you when you need to drink. It’s called thirst. I don’t understand how you can tell people to only eat when they’re hungry but at the same time tell them to over-ride the body’s thirst mechanism.

    Oh, and, yes to everything Tracey said.

  3. The crockpot and Instapot are my best friends. They allow you to have dinner ready as you walk in the door. Great investment, just takes a little prep work, but worth it.

  4. I totally agree with you Tracey and Dienne! You’re not getting a restful sleep if it’s broken by constantly getting up to use the bathroom. I think people should base their eating timeline on their personal schedules. Personally, my family usually eats dinner between 7 and 7:30 pm. However, we have about three hours before we retire to bed. That’s plenty of time to be active and burn calories. I think people should do what’s best for their lifestyles. It’s not always a “one size fits all” type of weight loss plan.

  5. Tracey and others bring up a very relevant point. While I use the Crockpot and Instapot as well, dinner can easily be pushed off to 7 or 7:30 – take last night when there was an hour of snow shoveling before dinner.
    I’m just not sure what his recommendation is based on. In some European countries, for centuries, the evening meal occurs quite late and is a large meal. While they may have a later time that they go to bed, many of us who still have work, or housework, etc to do, have a late bedtime as well. Yet statistically Americans have more overweight and obese citizens than European countries.
    Doesn’t it really come down to what and how much we are eating – more than when we eat it?

  6. So what if we work 2nd or 3rd shift? What hours would you recommend then ?

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.