Personal Training in Chicago

Will Eating at Night Really Make You Gain Weight?

Breakfast, lunch and dinner do the body good. But what about a late dinner, midnight snack and middle-of-the night munching?

Research consistently shows that people who eat late at night weigh more than those who eat all of their food earlier in the day. For example, people who eat most of their food at night have higher body mass indexes than people who eat earlier in the day, according to a 2007 study published in the International Journal of Obesity. And in one study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who ate between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. gained more weight than those who kept their mouth shut during those hours.

But what is it about nighttime that makes the fat pack on?

Nothing Good Happens After 10 p.m


“Over the years, I have reviewed research that says that only the total caloric intake ingested over the day matters,” says board-certified bariatric physician Dr. Caroline Cederquist, author of "The MD Factor Diet." “I think this is the real crux of the issue. At midnight, people will rarely make chicken and salad. They will eat ice cream or chips, the high-fat or high-sugar foods that our bodies store so effectively as fat.”

In fact, in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, nighttime eaters ate 12 percent more calories than those who ate only throughout the day. And in the International Journal of Obesity study, nighttime eaters participated in more binge-eating behaviors than those who didn’t eat after dinner.

Bingeing on high-sugar, high-fat foods causes you to go to bed with elevated blood sugar levels. At any time of day, these set the body up for subsequent sugar crashes and weight gain, with the body quickly storing excess sugar as fat, says Lori Zanini, a California-based registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with HealthCare Partners medical group. But, since your body uses less sugar as fuel when you’re lying in bed as opposed to running around, potentially more sugar winds up in your fat cells when you eat those foods late at night.

Throwing Off Your Rhythm

Still, the problems with late-night eating extend far past what people choose to eat before bed.

Animal research from Northwestern University suggests that eating at night can lead to weight gain – even if you don’t eat excess calories. Researchers claim this is because eating at night can interfere with the body’s circadian rhythms.

For instance, insulin – the hormone responsible for getting the sugar in your blood to your body’s cells for fuel – runs along with your circadian clock. So at night (when your body thinks you should be asleep and fasting), your body’s cells become more resistant to the hormone, according to a 2013 animal study in Current Biology. That means that eating large nighttime meals can cause especially high blood-sugar levels and, over time, fat accumulation, insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.

What’s more, eating right before bed can disrupt your sleep to make next-day cravings a biological inevitability.

Eating, especially a large meal, late at night also increases your risk of heartburn. “Esophageal reflux commonly occurs when our stomachs are full and we lie down, allowing the stomach contents to reflux into the esophagus causing discomfort and affecting sleep,” Cederquist says.

She also notes that in patients who have metabolic dysfunction (common in overweight individuals) and eat high-carb meals before bed, blood-sugar levels nose-dive throughout the night. “This hypoglycemia wakes people right up from sleep and makes it hard to fall back to sleep after, disrupting normal sleep patterns,” she says.

After a bad night’s sleep, the body’s levels of appetite-triggering hormones increase, while hormones that blunt hunger drop, according to a 2013 study in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Peoples' bodies become resistant to insulin’s effects, raising the risk of fat accumulation, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Hence why one meta-analysis published in Sleep studying 634,511 people worldwide found that those who frequently miss out on sleep suffer from weight gain and obesity.

Eat Right at Night

“I usually recommend individuals stop eating approximately 1.5 to 2 hours before going to bed to allow for digestion. Since we digest our food better when we are upright, this allows our body to truly rest and repair while we are sleeping in preparation for the next day,” Zanini says.

“Still, even if it’s late at night, if an individual is hungry, he or she should eat. It’s important to listen to our body’s hunger cues at all times,” she says. Going hungry will set you up for low blood sugar levels, intense cravings and binging once you finally do eat.

If that’s you, fight the urge to reach for high-fat, high-sugar goods and opt for a healthy protein-packed snack. “That way, the food will be much less likely to elevate blood sugar and then cause a rapid fall in the early morning hours,” Cederquist says. Zanini recommends reaching for almonds, low-fat cottage cheese and tomatoes, Greek yogurt with cinnamon or vegetables dipped in hummus or guacamole.

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

****If you ever need more weight loss tips, never hesitate to send me an email ( I'm a personal trainer in Chicago and I've been serving weight loss personal training clients since 2005.


Article Credit:
Author: K. Aleisha Fetters, U.S. News & World Report
Will Eating at Night Really Make You Gain Weight?
Weight loss and late night eating while meeting with a Chicago personal trainer.

The Underlying Influence on Your Weight Loss Failures

Fear is a very powerful influence, and you should question how it affects your approach to weight loss or personal training in Chicago. How many times have you avoided a session with a personal trainer? Have you ever backed out of a weight loss plan? Have you ever taken a different path to avoid another personal training client at the gym? What were your reasons? Fear of failure? Fear of commitment? Fear of judgement?

Although fear can lead you to avoidance, is it always a bad thing? No. Fear can protect you from potentially harmful situations. The mind automatically triggers its efficient response system when it recognizes a learned threat. This system of fear has grown inside of you based on past experiences or what you’ve learned.

If an experience or something else has built a strong enough association, the mind will make it tough to forget and will consequently hide it in our subconscious like a protective mechanism. It usually takes repeated experiences before you internally say to yourself, “Maybe I shouldn’t drive erratically because I will hit another car,” or, “Maybe I shouldn’t work 10 hours per day in a stressful job because I’m at risk for a heart attack.” Either way, it can help you avoid destructive or stressful situations. This inner voice is quite essential when we need a wake-up call from life’s distractions.

We need to remember that our minds thrive on reinforcement and don’t always effectively decipher between good and bad or rational and irrational. The fear of flying is a common example, and one which I can relate to.

Rocking back and forth by the open door of the plane, I looked down 13,000 feet on a still landscape of cornfields and a distant Lake Michigan. Three seconds later my tandem partner pushed me out, and we free-fell 5,000 feet before my parachute popped open. That was the first and only time I ever skydived.

Funny enough, I wasn’t scared while crouching on the edge of the doorway. The experience was surreal; however, I didn’t feel that way 30 seconds earlier.

Most people have a fear of heights, and I can’t blame them. The higher we travel, the less likely we’ll survive in the case of an accident. This fear is a survival instinct.

On that day, though, the height didn’t scare me (or the fear of dropping 13,000 feet with a parachute, which is safe, but still crazy). Above all, the plane ride scared me the most.

The plane was a ten-person, single-engine plane. As it rose up into the sky, you heard the engine roar through the cabin as the wind knocked the plane back and forth like a pinball. I looked down at my new altimeter wristwatch and saw the steady climb in elevation. I had never been more nervous in my life. At the same time, I couldn’t wait to jump.

Why was I more scared of the plane than the actual jump? If you think about it, being in a closed cabin seems safer and more controlled than a free-fall with plastic strapped to your back.

That thought never crossed my mind, though. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the small planes I had seen on the news, including the plane carrying JFK Jr. that had crashed and killed everyone on board. I had a constant newsreel showing me these horrible images and bylines of those fatal crashes playing in my head.

My fear is an excellent tool for survival —when it’s rational. I finally understood why many people fear flying. Despite this fear, though, I still flew up and jumped after debating whether or not I should. I finally realized that it wasn’t rational to fear flying on that day. The weather conditions were sunny and warm, and the airline had a perfect flight history. It’s hard to believe that fear almost steered me from an unbelievable experience.

It truly is a problem when irrational fears overtake our being. Despite our efforts at times to repress or erase them, they tend to scratch and claw their way out like a cat trapped in a bag. They pop up in our minds as thoughtful, rational monologues that appear in our best interests, but are actually self-sabotaging pushes to maintain our current culture, like a familiar job or relationship, even though it causes us stress or leads to weight gain.

It doesn’t seem to make sense. Why would we allow these things to ruminate within us? Why would we allow them to take over our being when we’re not paying attention?

For you, it may manifest itself in an underlying voice telling you “Don’t do this!” Despite your best efforts to eliminate the message, it continues to torment you as an unfiltered guided voice; much like it did to me as I was preparing to board that small plane.

We carve our experiences and our interactions into a writeable disc that plays the background music to our life. Unfortunately—and fortunately—fears are written on the disc along the way, too. They make a deeper groove, and it takes more repetitions to change them.

You need to face your fears by defining their influence on your perspective and behavior, and by repeatedly reinforcing a positive message. Don’t feel the pressure to figure out the root of every fear. It may take more work than you’re willing to handle.

It’s time to redefine the legacy of fear within you.

Reflection Section:

1.) Awareness: Name three fears that steer your behavior (e.g., avoidance, projection, isolation, etc.). Where have these fears stemmed from and what evidence do you have to justify listening to these fears?

2.) Acceptance: Are you prepared to face these fears again with a new self-confidence? If not, what positive message can you repeatedly reinforce? How will you carry this out?

3.) Adaptation: Which fears are unjustified and how will you no longer allow them to change your approach? What positive messages can you reinforce repeatedly to convince yourself that these fears aren’t rational?

Article Credit:
The Underlying Influence on Your Weight Loss Failures
Discovering the underlying reasons why you can't lose weight.

Determine Your Boundaries to Achieve Weight Loss

I think it’s symbolic of our true human nature to want to push our boundaries. We have a knack for pushing the limits.

It’s the kid inside of us that still touches the oven after our mother tells us not to turn the knob. It’s the “let’s see if we can get away with a little more” syndrome. With this in mind, we occasionally need to protect ourselves from, well, ourselves, and define the most appropriate boundaries.

When redefining yourself, it’s very easy to tell you to live a perfect life, and then you’ll achieve ultimate happiness. You’ll be safer if you drive the speed limit all the time. You’d reach your ideal weight if you eat just a little bit less than you normally do. Unfortunately, we have too many distractions in life and also enjoy the freedom of doing what we want.

Instead of the all or nothing approach, I employ the following analogy as a way a life. I found through trial and error that I don’t receive tickets when I drive no more than nine miles per hour over the speed limit. How fast can I drive without getting a ticket? Nine seems to be the answer for where I live.

Once I hit ten, though, it’s a different story. Many police officers consider speeds of ten miles per hour or more over the speed limit more dangerous, and you are more likely to receive a ticket. There is a legitimate reason for this assumption. The state has determined the speed limit for a particular road as the most ideal based on the conditions. As you speed further from this number, the likelihood of an accident increases. For this reason, the court system assigns higher penalties for this class of ticket.

I’m taking a risk by acting beyond these limits, but I’m also mindful of an appropriate boundary. I refer to this behavior as "living in the gray." You may say, “But I don’t want live by any boundaries or a rule system!” Although many books will sell the idea of life without rules, it isn’t possible. All of us need boundaries or a rule system. Without them, we would probably harm ourselves or others.

Besides, you already live by a set of boundaries and rules. Now you only need to redefine them. Would you eat a piece of candy lying on the wet alley pavement? Let’s assume you and everyone else wouldn’t. You have established this rule about food as a safety precaution.

The behavior of my weight loss clients is another example. Their weight always tends to fluctuate between the same high and low numbers. It’s as if they retreat to their old habits once they reach a particular weight loss low. We learn that these figures are their tramlines, or boundaries, for their weight. Unconsciously, my personal training clients in Chicago modify their behavior when they reach a specific high or low number, for better or worse. These boundaries mark their patterns of behavior, and the tramlines must be redefined in order to achieve a healthy weight range.

What is your rule system? Is it good for you? Are you a healthier person physically, mentally, and emotionally for it? If your system and behaviors aren’t in line with what you need, there’s a chance you’re causing yourself stress. It should be in line with your homeostasis —your philosophical, efficient state of being. It’s whatever you do for your mind and body that make it work best. If you don’t know what this perfect state of being is for you, then you’re living a life of chance, pushing random boundaries. Any choice you make is a risk.

Up to this point, I hope you have been learning about YOU. Now, you must stop choosing boundaries that work for someone else and begin determining what works for your own body and mind. It doesn’t matter if it works for someone else. It doesn’t mean it will work for you.

When you know yourself well enough, you deserve the occasional slack to live a life outside the strict daily regiment. Disregard the teachings of many popular philosophers, pundits, and anyone else that has thrown their opinion at you. They may tell you to live this way or that way. But no matter what they say, you need to determine your boundaries based on what you discover about YOU. There isn’t a perfect way to live, after all.

I greatly encourage you to “live in the gray” a little bit. It will lead to valuable lessons about your spirit. Never forget, though, that you need to base your new boundaries on your needs instead of your wants. Test your limits but keep your true self in mind. You’ll be thankful when you KNOW why your weight increased while meeting with a Chicago personal trainer, why your spouse is upset with you, or why you received a speeding ticket.

Article Credit:
Determine Your Boundaries to Achieve Weight Loss
Determining your boundaries with your personal trainer in Chicago.