Fitness Myth – Eating Food After 8pm Will Turn Into Fat

The no eating after 8pm myth is a very common myth and one that I’ve even believed until recently. The myth states that if you eat after 8pm, the food you eat will turn into body fat. Your metabolism does not shut down at night. In fact, your metabolism can’t even tell time.

Your body still needs fuel to repair itself during the night and if you workout later in the evenings, it is even more important. The key is to choose healthier foods such as lean proteins, good fats, and lots of vegetables. If you workout later in the evenings, don’t be afraid to eat a meal, just make it a healthy one!


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Author: Eartha Haines

My name is Eartha and I created this blog as a motivational resource for myself to keep up with exercise and eating right. I enjoy reading, learning, and writing about all things fitness related. I hope that as well as motivating myself, others may find motivation to try fitness as well. Learn more.

49 thoughts on “Fitness Myth – Eating Food After 8pm Will Turn Into Fat”

  1. I believe that this is untrue in some ways. I’ve read that around 8:00 at night, your body starts to produce certain chemicals to help digest food, make you go to sleep etc. When you eat after 8, your body says “OH! It must still be day” and will start producing daytime chemicals like epinephrine and seritonin, which reverses the other chemicals effects. If you eat after 8 lets say, your body see’s the food in there. Regardless of what it is, it will burn it and turn it into fat. Likewise, if you do not eat after 8, the body has nothing to burn and will instead burn some of your body fat. See the connection?
    I have been a tubby kid forever, and just recently (last Monday) I stopped eating after 8. I have lost ten pounds since, along with mildly-healthy eating. I feel great now, and will continue not eating after 8. Hell, let’s make it 7 shall we?
    I think you should re-research your facts.

    1. I believe Brandon i did the same think but i stopped eating after 6pm. Even my dad told me the same thing and i did lose weight.

    2. For all of those who read the above comment just remember that brandon here could have lost 10 pounds of muscle for all he knows. 10 pounds a scales means absolutely nothing check your body fat percentage for a more accurate check of healthy weight loss. It really comes down to when an individual actually goes to sleep because during rest the metabolism tends to slow down so it isn’t the greatest idea to have a large meal right before you fall asleep but we all fall asleep at different times. So to classify everyone into a category where not eating after a specific time is considered a good idea is completely illogical. In fact to put this theory in other words if brandon here stops eating at 8 pm and falls asleep at 12 pm then wakes up at 8am, considering he only sleeps for 8 hours, that would mean that his body hasn’t had any nutrients for 12 hours straight. That is half of a day of not eating. If you are trying to convince anyone that not eating anything for 12 hours is healthy you are severely mistaken. Which brings me back to my original statement that brandon’s body has most likely metabolized his muscle tissue in a defense against him starving his body. In turn lowering his overall weight on the scale but ultimately slowing his metabolism by lowering his muscle mass. Thus, eventually having a negative effect on his weight loss in the long run.

      Moral of the story here is don’t be a Brandon. Change your diet to include more fiber, whole grain, healthy fats such as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats and lean sources of protein while including a good exercise regimen. This will cause your to not only lose weight but actually achieve a healthy lifestyle.

      1. I have a body fat percentage calculator and I stopped eating carbs after the evening. Also been running cornerback drills and running a track. I’ve lost 5% body fat in 2 months.

        Same weight roughly, my body fat has been quartered. And I’m in much better shape. Always been skinny, but put on about 50 pounds in 2 years up until I started exercising these past couple months about four days a week.

        Eat a big breakfast, big lunch, and low carbs for dinner and burn off the carbs from the other two meals exercising.

        My experience has been Brandon’s, don’t eat four hours before sleeping (or if you do snack on like peanuts or rice cakes or something very light, low on carbs).

        Overall the advice to not fill yourself before you sleep every night is critical.

        1. Will D, those body fat calculators are known to vary greatly with hydration levels. It may be the case that you’ve lost body fat, maybe not. But it’s absolutely NOT TRUE that you will gain fat by eating after 8:00. This is a rule of thumb at best, not a scientific truth, and only applies to a subset of people. Look at the common denominator here; everybody saying it’s truth is trying to lose weight. If you follow the standard 3 meals-a-day plan, likely you’ve had your caloric needs for the day by 8:00 PM. Anything else would be “extra.” In addition to eating throughout the day, I eat a TON at night: a full meal after my evening workout and then a casein shake before bed. I wake up rested and not sore. If I don’t get proper nutrition before bed I can tell the difference the next day. The rule of thumb should be amended to read, don’t eat after 8:00 if you’re trying to lose weight and have already eaten 3 meals that day.

    3. One thing is your body needs energy to keep your heart beating so it goes to your fat storage.So if you eat at night your body won’t use your stored fat it will get the good stuff from what you just ate and the rest will go your fat storage thus weight gain.So go to bed on an empty stomach about 3-4 hours after your last meal then when your body looks for energy for your heat it uses your own body fat.Can you say weight loss.

  2. Eating after 8pm does NOT make you get fatter. I suggest anyone that believes differently needs to log onto legitmate websites to find the actual research from clinical trials that says it does.

    Just because things are on the net does not make them true, no matter who they are from. However if you go to PubMed and search for actual proven facts, you will find your answers.

    Case in point, my parents, father is 80 mother is 78. My father nibbles constantly on sweets and fruit, he has healthy meals otherwise, but he is a nibbler and will have snacks within 30 minutes of having a huge dinner. My mom hardly ever snacks, except after 6 pm while watching tv and reading. She eates the same meals my dad does. Whats the difference? My mom is obese, my dad is slim…my mom sits all day at home, never exercises, never even walks to the mail box. My dad will go walking up to 3 miles several times a week, or ride his bike up to 15-20 miles on some days. He does yard work, housework, etc. See the pattern? Sit and eat you get fat, eat and work out you stay slim. Eat healthy meals and snacks anytime of day or night you choose and exercise. Its the only way.

    1. Yes i think this is a true fact about weight loss. Eating after 8pm is not a good idea but if u must eat and it’s not vegetable or healthy, make sure u bure it out… With a 3min. Dancing,bicycle riding, skping rope or strong chores… After doing those, when u feel very hugry u know u have burn’t some fat. But then drink some water. So keep lossing those killer fat in time, before it dose u wrong. Stay strong,fight it and u will always win, just keep fight it. ( FAT);)win win …

  3. There was a recent study on this published in some Medical Journal in England. I believe the original study was done by Indiana University, but I could be wrong. (Saw a blurb on CNN a couple months back) Basically it said that eating later has nothing to do with you getting fatter. Like one poster said, your metabolism doesn’t know the time of day. Of course, the problem probably lies in the fact that the food that you’re eating (for those who eat later) is extra food, or snack food. So of course, this extra food is just adding calories.
    Personally, I tend to eat dinner from 8pm – 11pm, sometimes later. This probably sounds bad. But when you consider that I go to bed around 2 ~ 3am and wake up around 10:30am, it doesn’t sound so bad, right? It’s like I’m living in a different timezone.

    If someone would be so kind, please find a link to that study I mentioned earlier. (At work now…)

  4. i think it is true if you eat after 7 or 8 its harder to loose weight it many ways … i stopped eating after 7 pm i sleep better and lost a ton of weight but i also cut calories and exercise 7 days a week and i noticed a drastic weight loss after i stopped eating after 7….and after awhile when you dont eat so late and cut calories your stomach shrinks and you wont end up eating to much throughout the day because small meals make you seem full but this is just me may not work for everyone

  5. to the guy that tells people to re-research their facts… eating after 8 does not make you fat. not exercising regularly makes you fat. eating after 8 does not make your body think it is still day. if you were to eat before you sleep, your body stays up to digest the food therefore causing you to be lazy the next morning because your body stayed up digesting that food and did not rest. i have many friends that are bodybuilders/pro trainers and they sometimes hit the gym late and eat after wards. if you plan working out late and eating after 8, the best thing to do is to take a 10-20 min walk around your neighborhood. it helps your body digest better and keep your metabolism stable. brandon doesn’t know crap.

  6. The exercise is the key to the whole thing. I’ve tried a lot of these different eating plans – some strict – some not so strict – but the key to the weight loss is the regular exercising – I’m a confirmed believer. Even if it’s just 20 minutes per day. I’ve tried it on myself – if I exercise daily – it’s like it turns on the fat burning motor which keeps running – and if I stop the exercise well, it won’t matter if I eat carrots and celery – nothing much happens in terms of weight loss. Just my own experience to share – which I value anyone elses – just because it’s not a clinical trial doesn’t mean that it can’t work for that person who has experienced it.

  7. I dnt believe that eating after 8 pm makes you fat.However,I do believe that the meals or snacks people tend to choose after 8 pm do.Think about it…..after 8pm most people have already had dinner and just want a bowl of ice cream or maybe just a snack cake and i am not saying that is bad..people dont loose weight because they have stopped eating after 8pm but because WHAT they have stopped eating after 8pm.Most people dont only make one lifestyle change at a time they tend to make several.So, if you have stopped eating after 8pm and have lost weight these could be reasons why.I am not an expert but i hope that my post helps.Remember exercise is always the corner stone to a good healthy diet.

  8. I don’t think it matters about the time you stop eating, its not eating 3 hours before you go to bed is whats important. So for me I typiclly go to bed around 1 or 2 in the morning, so not eating after 7 fo me would leave a 6-7 hour gap and naturally the human body is hungry about 3 1/2- 4 hours afer your last meal and going to sleep on a emty stomach is never good. So the rule is not to eat within a 3 hour period to allow your food to digest without it storing as fat, very common i you sleep right after you eat or before 3 hours of your last meal . I have done this for about 5 months and its amazing how my body has responded. I have lost about 15 pounds so far.Now I just haveto incorparate more excerise and the pounds naturally come off.

  9. Take another look at this. Think of individual schedules, and individual body types, not the averages. The averages are the main reasons why people unhealthily lose weight to be small like their friends. People have varying work schedules. Do you expect a Wal-Wart worker, who works 11pm-6am not to eat anything while at work? If so, weight loss is not your issue. Perhaps, seeking a medical professional for mental retardation would better suit you. These are personal accounts when these non-important people tell YOU not to eat after 7pm. Maybe it worked for them..who knows. Think of chemistry and biology–read an advanced anatomy book to really see how the body digests food. Don’t just read these personal accounts–which are designed to make you believe you are doing all the wrong things. IT IS SIMPLE: WORK OUT AND EAT RIGHT–THAT’S IT!! Trust that you’ll die before you find a way around that. I don’t mean workout like a freaking body builder, but just enough to keep you in shape.

  10. Its not true that the only way to lose weight is by exercise. All you have to do is change your diet… stop eating sugar and all those foods that turn straight into fat…and you’ll have no problem losing weight.

  11. lol this is so confusing. I’m just trying to figure out whether to eat or not at like 10 30pm. i haven’t eaten since 12 pm cause i went to work then came home, hit the gym straight away, then had a soccer game. can anyone answer this question for me.. would it be ok to have a bowl full of veggies and a lean steak at this late?.. or will i be regretting it in the morning lol?

  12. Honestly, it depends on individuals. I am the type of person who can gain weight even if I lived only on celery. No amount of exercise (and I go to the gym four times a weeK), no amount of low calorie diets, or whatever, will make my weight shift unless I do a LOT of work with ayurveda and body type and boost my metabolism. Time isn’t the important thing, METABOLISM is why you gain weight or don’t. I have friends who eat ten times more junk than I ever have done in my life, but they have the high metabolisms that can burn through it – metabolisms which will probably come down a few notches as they get older.

    There is no Rule of Diet which is ever going to apply to everyone. You can only try what you can and monitor your results. Just by eating more metabolic foods, I lose weight now even if I don’t work out that week at all…but that’s just MY way, it’s not THE way.

  13. Calories in Calories out….Bam…. there it is. Eat right and exercise often. Takes work but working is exerciseing too.

  14. You can always beat the odds…there are many people that smoke cigarettes and don’t get cancer…but there are many that do. Hey, everything is like that to some degree…but, the body is VERY cyclical and requires a “routine”. There was a poster here that is correct…your body goes into differnt modes..not to say you are going to become ill if you eat dinner at 11 p.m., but, the best cycle for our bodies..if you can do it, is to stop eating say 8 p.m. or thereabouts to enable your body to do what it requires without having food being ingested…which requires something different. We sleep, we wake, we eat, we sleep. There are cycles to everything and I think that eating late is just unhealthy…regardless of your being slim or heavy. Everything in moderation is the key…and YES working out is imperative to health as well. For those that want to be healthy…work out, eat good, fresh, unprocessed food and get plenty of water and rest….this is the way…there are no shortcuts. Here’s to your health!

  15. I eat dinner at around 10.30-11.30pm and go to bed at about midnight to 1am and I am skinny. I feel fine, sleep fine and when I wake up I’m hungry. Probably isn’t the best time to eat but it obviously doesn’t matter that much.

  16. My personal opinion is to work out every day and eat healthy. eat according to your life or work schedule in general and i never eat at less 3 hours before i sleep. but that’s just me i run on my treadmill everyday and use my Kettle-bell every other day that’s just me.

  17. when i eating and go for sleep i still lose weight :).. it doesn’t matter such person like me that make much exercises ( Gym, Karate, football and kick boxing during the week.

  18. I eat a heavy breakfast some fruits after a gap ofa hours light lunch.. low sugar n low salt, and some cucumber after 2 hours of ma lunch… i consume two boiled eggs with green tea in the evening or some fruits and then go for a 30 minutes walk… around at 8 pm….. and I am loosing weight everyday, I feel the difference I avoid eating at night but I dont think starvin is a gud solution so if I feel hungry at night i eat veggies… The key is avoiding fat along with carbs at night.. this kinda combo converts the food into celluloid which looks like a BULGING BALLOON…………..

  19. It is a fact that your metabolism slows down while you sleep. The more active you are, the faster your metabolism goes. Sleeping is about as physically inactive as it gets and nearly all of your bodies functions slow down to a crawl. This isn’t an opinion but a fact. Do some research

  20. I just came from my yearly physical, which I resist like the plague. Facts: I am 64, female, active but not overly, eat homemade healthy meals, and over this last year gained another 8 lbs. I am already very overweight. My doctor said one of his patients said his neighbors think he (doctor) is a genius because he told him to not eat after 7pm. The patient lost 30 lbs, so now his neighbors are doing it. I did that about a year ago. I immediately felt my clothes fitting better. I slept better, digested food better, and wasn’t as hungry. I slid back in my ways, though, eating a sandwich around 9 or even 10pm, as it was 5 hours after dinner and I would be hungry. I never eat breakfast, and only have a sandwich for lunch. When I was young, weight was not a problem until I hit about 40, when all heck broke loose. So now I am going back on what the doctor suggested. I think nighttime eating can add calories and age, metabolism and lifestyle also have a lot to do with it. I also suspect certain supplements can cause weight gain, such as bee pollen and vitamin E. Just my thoughts.

  21. Of course you’re going to lose weight if you stop eating after 8pm. You’ll lose even more weight if you stop eating after 2pm. See what I’m saying? The reason those of who have lost weight from not eating after 8 is because if you stop eating, you’re removing calories from your diet. It has nothing to do with the time of day it is. Whereas before you would continue to eat after 8, you were consuming extra calories.

    Don’t worry about the time of day that you eat. Focus more on the amounts that you eat throughout the day, which should be around 4-5 small meals. The whole 8 o’clock thing started as a way to get people to stop mindlessly snacking throughout the night and was then taken too literally.

  22. hi, i have gone through all the reviews. mr. brandon /anton is absolutely correct, if a person is giving proper advice why u people criticise him,he is not here to sell any of his products, he just shared his expereince and its true, even in my personal experience i tried level best to reduce weight, but after stopping food 6.30pm i have marginally reduced and now iam in proper shape, yes, i do work outs too, so i support brandon.others try to do what brandon suggest and see the difference , if u dont find results then write about it ,,not write by fantasising

  23. Brendon your wrong your body wont turn to burning fat itll turn to burning muscle. When you starve yourself for a period of time your body releases hormones that lessen the breakdown of fats which causes your body to burn the only other source of energy, the protien found in your muscle. That is why your seeing such huge weight loss in that little of time. Muscle weighs a lot more than fat.

  24. This is how I understand the process.
    I believe “Eating after eight” means “Eating less than two hours before your bedtime.”
    Eating more/less, eating at certain times for a specific person’s day cycle, body type, combined with more/less activities effects metabolism.
    The body takes the most efficient route in producing energy: stomach-food, muscle, fat. In other words, if you are not exercising, and you have no food in your stomach, the muscle is used for energy…the most efficient process; on the other hand, if you are doing something that uses very little energy, like sleeping or slacking on the couch, and you have more food in your stomach than needed for the lack of activity, your body turns the food into fat…the most efficient process.
    It takes energy to build (the process of tearing and repairing) muscle.
    Calorie requirements are specific for each person, but to lose weight, one must consume fewer calories than burned; to lose fat, one must also exercise, to avoid losing muscle.
    I believe it is best to eat at the start of your day (for the midnight shift, that may mean ten at night,) eat many little meals through-out your day, and avoid high calorie intake about two hours before the end of your day (bedtime;) it is not good to go to bed on an empty stomach, because your body needs energy for things like dreaming, and keeping your heart pumping, and you do not want it to take it from muscle.

  25. Its amazing how misinformed a lot of people on here are. A couple of you are correct (I laughed at the suggestion to stop eating after 2pm. you are dead on). Ben and Snoglydox more or less hit the nail on the head.

    Gaining weight = eating more calories than you currently need to maintain your weight.

    Losing weight = eating less calories than you currently need to maintain your weight.

    Obviously, if you do cardio, you are burning calories, so that means you can eat more than if you didn’t do cardio. (cardio isn’t required to lose weight, you’d just have to eat less)

    If you are trying to build muscle, you typically want a small meal of lean slow digesting protein of some kind before going to bed, as this will help minimize going catabolic when you’re sleeping.

    Anyways, some of you have been duped into thinking the time of day is what makes you gain/lose weight rather than the fact that you are eating less.

    It’s like me saying, if you don’t drive after 8pm youll save more gas. Well of course if you normally drive after 8pm, and you stop doing so, you’ll save gas. Not because its after 8pm, but because you aren’t fucking driving.

  26. Ok peoples my opinion here is that i dont think it matters when you eat before bed because if your day is filled with the proper amount of physical activity ur body uses what nutrients it needs and your muscles use what protein given the fact ur feeding your muscles properly. Sure anyone can lose wait but to really boost your metabolism you really need to work your muscles and feed them what they need.

  27. Oh yeah and one more thing , sugar is basically what needs to be cut out after 8 pm , sugar is the cause of americas obesity , its in everything , sodium is why americans have heart disease , cause americans choose to eat fast food and packaged meals which can sometimes be filled with up to 1000mg sodium per serving, which is ridiculous, given the average man can normally eat 2 burgers, then they add on a super sized fry swimming in salt and a super sized soda. All together your prolly looking at a 3500mg sodium intake for that meal. And im not even sure how to guess the calorie intake for this meal on wheels.

  28. According to Dr. Oz, you need to get your butt to bed by 10pm. At 9:30, cool down your room. 9:45 stretch for about 2 mins. deep breaths, helps relax you. Extend your legs against the wall to elevate them. Try to go to bed within 10 mins for deep sleep. Shouldn’t eat 3 hours prior to bedtime.

  29. I don’t listen to idiot doctors or crazy websites trying to convince me what to do with my body…I listen to MY BODY. I know my cycles I know what causes me to gain and lose weight and I know what to eat and when to excersize. This is the problem with “monkey see monkey do”. Just because your neighbor loses wegiht because they did not eat after 8pm does not mean you will. And if you do, it may be unhealthy weight like muscle as someone pointed out. Learn your own body and do what works for you.

  30. Hey guys slow down. I guess what brandon said in his “comment” is not quiet logical and i don’t even support this fact about not eating after 8. I’ll eat whenever i’ll wish to. Reading these blogs and sitting in front of PC and searching health tips on google certainly doesn’t works for anyone. Make sure you eat 3 times a day. You meal chart should include green vegetables and pulses. Your breakfast should be lite but nutritious and full of fibers. Try to stick to rice for lunch. And include salad in both lunch and dinner. That’s it. You are done. Talking about exercise …..mmmm i must say that most people don’t have time for that or can;t continue it regularly. The best solution to this problem is “walking”. You do have plenty of time to do that. At least try to walk 3 Kms. everyday. I guarantee you the best of your fitness.

  31. Brandon, ever consider that restricting meals past 8 pm contributed to you achieving a overall caloric deficit? If you took in an excess of 3500 calories at 8 pm, or 3500 at 11:48 pm, it does not matter. Your body will store that as fat. Likewise, if you had a overall DEFICIT of 500 calories at 8 pm, it would be identical to an OVERALL deficit of 500 calories at 1 am. The only thing that determines fat gain or loss is your NET caloric intake. Also, don’t use the scale, use the mirror. Weight loss means nothing. FAT loss should be the goal. Now put this idiocracy to rest.

  32. “When it comes to weight gain, when you eat might be at least as important as what you eat. That’s the conclusion of a study reported in the Cell Press journal Cell Metabolism published early online on May 17th.”

    “”Every organ has a clock,” said lead author of the study Satchidananda Panda of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. That means there are times that our livers, intestines, muscles, and other organs will work at peak efficiency and other times when they are — more or less — sleeping.”

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120517132057.htm

  33. I beleive that you can eat after 8pm, but I’m sure that eating fat and carbs after that time will make the body store fat because it will not burn it on time before sleep and also each person metabolism is different, so for some individuals metabolism will slow more at night than others. If you care about not wasting too muscle at night and your main goal is to lose weight, eat 2 to 3 hours before bed, this last meal should consist of foods that have mainly protein and are slow digesting for ex cottage cheese, casein protein, low fat no sugar yogurt, you can also eat other source of protein like turkey ham or chicken breast. So if go to sleep at 11pm for example you will be eating your last meal at 8 or 9. I forgot to say you can add all the vegetable and salad you want on the last meal just avoid corn or peas because they have too many carbs, the best will be broccoli or spinach, they barely have any calories but have lots lots of nutrients, and other things that assist you in losing weight

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