What is everyone's opinion on eating before bed? I've always eaten before going to bed. One sick thing I used to do was if I knew I had to be up early, I would pound a few tacos from Taco Bell and ride the insulin crash to sleepy-town. I obviously know that's a bad habit. I'm a week into Paleo/Primal, whatever you want to call it. Semantics aren't important to me. I've read books where people swore that you should have a protein shake before bed on workout days and I've read people that say you shouldn't eat within 4 hours of sleeping. I have an urge to follow my gut, literally, and have a small carb free fatty/protein rich snack before bed if I'm hungry. What is the community consensus on this issue?
I think I read the same books that you did. A few years ago, I used to end pretty much every night with a bowl of cottage cheese -- the logic being that the slow release of the casein protein would spare muscle overnight. I feel that this helped but don't have hard data to back that up.
From what I've read regarding the science that's been done, it has been shown rather conclusively that, in terms of weight gain/loss, it doesn't matter when you consume food, assuming you aren't adding stuff you wouldn't have eaten otherwise -- i.e. eating a big meal at 7pm is no different than eating a smaller meal at 7pm and a snack at 10pm. Obviously, getting in the habit of binging on junk food would be a bad thing and I think this is probably the origin of the myth that eating before bed is bad since people tend to think of stuff like cookies with milk as a bed time snack versus something like a protein shake. Other studies seem to suggest that eating before bed does help to spare muscle overnight.
I did some googling and found this link that has some good links to relevant studies: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/755705.html
From a paleo standpoint, I'm not sure what our ancestors did back then. They had access to nuts and berries to snack on and it wouldn't be surprising if they ate something if they got hungry before bed. A common piece of paleo advice is to eat when you're hungry and don't eat when you aren't hungry. If you're hungry before bed, go for it. If you aren't, don't force it.
Not sure if eating before bed is good or bad but you pass on a golden opportunity for a nice long fast. Eat an early dinner. sleep. break the fast around lunchtime the next day. It's intermittent fasting built right into your natural schedule. Or to put it another way, eat only between noon and 5pm daily and give your body the rest of the day to digest it.
I think your stomach really wants to be finished digesting the last meal before sleeping.
In your late twenties, you can get away with eating late at night and might only suffer some weird dreams.
In your late fifties, though, you could awake in a few hours with some wicked heartburn.
I would have to disagree with Paleo Dave on this occasion. The success of intermittent fasting (IF) strategies would argue that it DOES matter when you consume food. You can burn more fat by spacing out your feedings. IF favorably affects your metabolism and hormonal milieu. If you eat every three hours, your body will not have a chance to tap into fat stores. That being said, I don't know that it matters what time of day you do IF. If you fast most of the day, it's probably fine to eat at bedtime. Personally, I can't eat at bedtime because it gives me acid reflux.
This is purely anecdotal, but I have discovered that whenever I skip dinner (or have a very early dinner), I stay awake longer and have more trouble falling asleep. I also then wake up unusually early on the following morning, not feeling particularly tired but definitely wanting to eat something. When I do eat something at that point, I usually get sleepy after an hour or so and go back to bed, then wake up at my usual time or a bit later.
On the one hand I like the feeling of going to bed feeling light and slightly hungry, but on the other I'm worried about the effect it has on my sleep if it means I get less than I need.
So most of the time I just eat when hungry, and if that's right before bed then so be it (as long as it's not a binge of course). If, however, I don't feel hungry at bedtime despite having gone a long time since the last meal, I don't make a point of eating before bed just for the sake of it. Essentially, my guide is hunger (not cravings).
It's interesting to note that there are two perspectives from which to approach "eating before sleeping." They are:
Are you in a weight loss mode or a weight gain mode? Are you looking to slim down or bulk up? If you're looking to slim down, fasting may be the best course of action. Eat your last meal 10 to 12 hours before you need to wake up in the morning or skip it altogether! If you're looking to bulk up, then you may decide that following your natural instincts and eating if you're hungry (a nice paleo snack) to save muscle loss is the more optimal option!
The most important thing to do is, after researching, use yourself as a sample size of 1 and test the theories to see what works with your body.
I know I can fall asleep better and stay asleep better when I eat (usually low carb, high fat/protein) before bed. I almost HAVE to eat before bed to fall asleep. Always have since I was a kid. I also know my dogs never liked going to sleep until they had a nice big bowl of dog food. I think it's normal for animals, and probably humans too, to sleep after eating.
paleo re-enactment: Does it sound reasonable that major eating was probably done at the latest fairly soon after sunset since there was not much else to do then? Of course, I have seen stories of hunting at night by moonlight, but that is the exception more than the rule. If that is correct then the next question is how early did hunter/gatherers go to bed?
for me both works. eating before sleeping, when i wanna have a warm body. And when i wanna have strong dreams.
Like some say never say no.
On the other side if ure in comfort place it feels good with more empty bodytosleep. but usuly be happy that there is food. other people on this planet never ever ask this question. starving to death during sleping is the third alternativ.