Q: Do people gain more weight when they eat late at night than at other times of the day?
– Becky in Seattle
A: This myth might have originated from a decade-old study that found that “diet-induced thermogenesis” or DIT (the extra calories it takes to digest and assimilate foods) was higher after breakfast than after lunch, and higher after lunch than after dinner (at least in men). These results suggested that more calories are used up and so are not stored as fat when consumed earlier in the day compared to at night. No research since has added credence to the theory. There probably is a slight fat-storing effect when a person eats a large dinner or evening snack and then sits around all night compared to eating a large breakfast followed by an active day, but the effect is too small to make any difference in a person’s weight. When it comes to weight gain, it is much more about how many calories you take and how many you burn in a 24-hour period than it is about when you eat or exercise. – Elizabeth Somer