A Nutrisystem Journey: Late Dinners Make You Gain Weight
The concept of losing weight is simple, right? Consume less calories than you use in a day, and you'll burn fat. Increase exercise, and you'll burn more calories. Studies have shown, however, that the time of day you eat plays an important role in weight loss or weight gain.
Researchers from Northwestern University found in a 2009 study using animals that eating foods at the wrong time of day leads to more than twice as much weight gain. When eating the same number of calories throughout the course of the day, eating that interferes with the body's natural sleep rhythms will cause more weight gain than spreading the meals out throughout the day and avoiding late night eating. The study was prompted by the fact that shift workers are often overweight. People who work night shifts or who are constantly switching their hours between day and night shifts tend to eat at the "wrong time" of day.
In a similar study of human eating patterns, Arline D. Salbe, PhD, a senior research fellow at the Kronos Longevity Research Institute in Phoenix, 94 people were studied for three days in a clinical research unit and allowed to eat as much as they wanted. Of the 94 people, 29 were labeled night eaters (those who eat between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. at least once during the three-day study period) and 65 were not night eaters. When these people were studied for 3.5 years, the night eaters gained an average of 13.6 pounds while the non-night eaters gained 3.7 pounds. (The study is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.)
Losing Weight is So Much More Than Counting Calories
Losing weight, it seems, is much more than just watching what foods you consume and counting calories. I've learned so far with Nutrisystem that the calories count, as do the combination of food types at each meal. For example, a typical Nutrisystem meal contains high amounts of protein compared to fat. Carbohydrates and dairy are spread out through the day with fruits and vegetables to complete the daily food intake. The Glycemic Index plays a large role. Now, based on the studies mentioned in this article and others, the time of day we choose to eat also matters.
I tend to stay up late, so I have always assumed eating a later dinner wouldn't matter since I was staying up later into the night — but I'm going to experiment with eating an earlier dinner and avoiding eating after 7 p.m. or so — to see whether or not it makes a difference to my overall weight loss.
My Favorite Nutrisystem Dinners
Right now, my favorite Nutrisystem dinners include the Chicken and Shrimp Alfredo (frozen meals), Italian Herb Flat Bread Pizza, Roast Turkey Medalians (frozen meals), Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells (frozen meals) and the Vegetable Lasagna with Basil Tomato Sauce. I also have a tendency to "cheat" in the evenings and prepare my own Nutrisystem-friendly meals, which would include a small portion of meat and fresh vegetables. As long as I keep an eye on portion sizes, preparing my own meals does not contribute to weight gain or seem to reduce the progress of the Nutrisystem plan I'm following.
I have gained 2 pounds since I weighed in on January 12th. However, my "body measurements" have all decreased slightly, and my clothes are fitting looser. Overall, my weight loss since starting Nutrisystem on November 1st has been 19 pounds, and a total of 28 pounds lost since August.
You can follow my overall experience and progress weekly here at HealthyTheory.com or @debbiedragon on Twitter. Please leave comments on your own weight loss journey or ask questions about Nutrisystem. I'm happy to answer what I can based on my experiences!
Other Articles in This Series
- One Meal at a Time
- Successful First Week
- Can You Drink Alcohol and Still Lose Weight?
- What is the Glycemic Index?
- Why is Breakfast So Important?
Nutrisystem is providing their program free of charge for my participation in the Nutrisystem Nation Blogging Program.
This post was included in the latest Sexy Organic Blog Carnival and the Fit Foodista March Food, Health and Wellness Blog Carnival.