Why is it Not Allowed to Eat After 7 if You Want to Lose Weight?

Dieting information usually has mixed theories. If you ask people anything about weight loss, fat reduction and dieting, a very common suggestion you’ll hear besides eating healthy and exercising is not eating after 7 pm. That’s one rule that a lot of dieters have wondered about and we’re going to examine if it’s true and if obeying it can help you lose weight. 

Where did the 7 pm rule come from?

There’s been a lot of proof on both sides for and against the 7 pm rule. It originated from the idea that most people who live an active, working life generally finish work around 5 or 6, maybe work out at the gym for an hour and then get home around 7 or a bit earlier to eat dinner or supper. 

That is recommended to be their last meal before a few hours after, they are ready to go to bed, around 10 or 11 pm and by that time, they are usually going to be hungry again which may have good effects on fat loss. 

Theories on why it’s not good to eat after 7:

It is said that after a certain time, usually before you go to bed, the body begins to prepare for sleep and works less harder to digest food as well as slows down metabolism. If you have a full meal or anything that is hard to digest right before bed, it makes it harder for the body to burn that food before bed and during sleep which can cause extra calories to not get burned and become fat. When you don’t eat anything, it lets the body focus more on rest and anything it doesn’t have to burn, it’ll take out from fat storages.

Another theory suggests that most people who eat their last meal before 7 are usually those who have already reached their “caloric limit” for the day and anything past that is going to be excess.

Theories on why it’s ok to eat after 7:

If you look at BMR, a theory which says you can eat anything you want as long as you don’t go past the actual BMR set for your age, weight and height, you can generally eat anytime without problems. 

There have been scientific studies which suggest that there is no proof that eating after 7 can impact weight. 

I tested this “diet rule”:

It’s very hard to know if a theory is real or not when you have so many sources telling you different things so I began trying to apply this rule. I actually considered doing it after I asked a few certified experts in fitness about losing fat. Most of them included that 7 pm rule.

My schedule however doesn’t really allow me to apply it like that. Most days during the week, I come home around 8-10 pm and I usually workout before which means when I get home, I am very hungry and need to re-fuel. 

I used to stuff myself with food but when trying this thing out, I decided to cut back, eat about 30%-50% less than I normally would. I also made sure to go to bed a little later, usually around 1 or 2 am. By that time, I was pretty hungry again, but in trying it this way, I could see if anything worked, just in different hours. 

I have been doing this for about 2 weeks and my weight has dropped from almost 184 to around 180. I don’t know if this is due to me going to bed hungry, but it has been the most major change I’ve made in that time. 

Other things I’ve been doing have involved eating a lot of kale, spinach and drinking more water, but that’s during the day. 

Have you tried to follow this?

If you have tried following the rule of not eating after a specific time and have been going to bed hungry, have you noticed a reduction in weight? Have you also noticed anything improvements in health? 

If you do it, you’ll find it’s VERY difficult to go to bed hungry:

Being hungry during the day isn’t as tough as being hungry at night. I don’t think anything related to hunger feels worse than when you’re ready to go to bed, but can’t focus on sleep because your stomach is growling. That’s the feeling I’ve had for many days.

Most of the time, I held on, but when I couldn’t take it anymore, the worst I ever did was eat a few walnuts and drink water. Since my weight didn’t go up, I don’t think walnuts did anything bad. They are low satiety foods and good for you. I think the only real bad foods you can have before bed are anything with carbs.

Not eating at night helps with cleansing:

Cleansing and not eating at night are not the same thing, but if anyone goes through a cleanse, the feeling is opposite of eating during the day and not eating at night. You feel bad during the day, but can’t wait to go to sleep because it helps you get through a lot of hours quickly. 

Diets like the 3 week diet include a 1 day cleanse to help you break into the next level of weight loss but by the time you do the cleanse, it is going to be around bed time. Then by sleeping for 8 hours or so, you really “cheat” the period in which you aren’t eating and you are losing weight during that time too. Basically not eating at night makes cleansing feel shorter.

Should everyone not eat before bed?

I think the rule of not eating before bed is a good rule to follow. I think I sleep better on an empty stomach than I do on a full one and I do believe the 4 pounds I lost was also connected to it. I also don’t think this rule was invented for weight loss but more for being healthier. 

If you have any medical condition that don’t allow you to try this, then do not do it. Talk to a doctor if you have questions about it. 

13 thoughts on “Why is it Not Allowed to Eat After 7 if You Want to Lose Weight?”

  1. I would say it all depends on what time you go to sleep.
    If I go to bed at around 1-2am then I usually eat even at 9pm.
    Of course it’s better to eat less than more late in the evening but I don’t think that eating after 7pm is a big obstacle to losing weight. I think it’s more important what we eat rather than when we eat it. And also whether we’re active or not.

  2. I do believe in the do not eat after 7 pm rule. For the same reasons you stated here. I’ll tell you my own experience which has been hard for me to duplicate because it takes a lot of discipline, which we all hate! I did a no carb diet with portioning out my meals to about the size of a bread plate. I ate every 2-3 hours. Let me tell you, I was so excited to eat every time! I also hit the gym for about an 1 hr about four times a week. I lost 20 lbs within 4 weeks.

    I loved this routine but unfortunately I fell off and have never been able to get back on it just thinking of how much discipline is required. Anyone can do it though!

    Jonathan

  3. I think weight loss has a lot more to do with our genetic make and what our bodies will tolerate. In my own experience, I have seen the types of food that will allow me to lose weight effortlessly and I have also seen the foods that do damage in terms of increasing the degree of cellulite on my body. It takes a lot of willpower to stay on track with our weight loss goals.

  4. I have never really tried this, however I too have always hear your not suppose to eat after a certain hour at night. I always snack at night, although just a light snack. I have had times where I have ate a lot later than usual and my stomach felt real heavy when going to bed. I think I may give up my late snack and see what happens.

  5. Hi Vitaliy – this is something I’ve experimented with, as well. I find that if I eat dinner too early, or stay up later than usual, I’ll be hungry at bedtime (and that’s a recipe for insomnia). I’ve found its best for me to finish dinner by 7pm, but to allow myself something light before bed if I’m feeling hungry. Some good bedtime snacks are a piece of fruit, some cottage cheese, or some low calorie vegetable soup.

    • Well unless you’re trying to lose weight, I think it’s fine to eat like this Laurie, but if are trying to drop a few pounds, give this idea a try.

  6. Hi Vitaliy, I heard about 7pm rule a I find it logical and easy to follow if you have a steady day-to-day routine. I’m one of those people who cannot sleep when hungry so you helped me a lot with low satiety foods..I usually had some cheese or orange before going to bed. Do you think cheese or orange was a bad practice to follow?

    • Actually I do Kat, anything dairy or high in sugar is not a good thing to eat before bed. I prefer a walnut or an extra glass of water. It gives me enough time to process it while I fall asleep.

  7. I think the theory has some fact into it, while it does not necessarily have to be at 7 pm it helps not eating a few hours before going to bed.

    If I ever did otherwise, mostly because I had very short time in between , work , workout and dinner i found myself feeling sick in bed trying to sleep with a full stomach , not only that but sometimes the feeling would continue even the next morning for a couple of hours.

    So I think it does really help going to bed feeling some hunger, maybe even you lost a few pounds of unnecessary fat which is something great, from my own experience I found it is most beneficial to sleep without a full stomach, not only for the health but for the mind as well.

    Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

  8. The amount of weight you lost while testing this theory out is rather impressive. It may have had something to do with the increase in green leafy veggies and water, but I’m sure cutting back on your night meal helped as well. Probably because it reduced your overall caloric intake, which I guess is another benefit of not eating after 7, right?

    Do you think choosing a different cutoff time for eating would be a good way to use this concept with different schedules? I often work all night and sleep while my kids are at school during the day, so not eating after 7 would pretty much starve me sometimes. I’m wondering if selecting a different time to do the same thing would work?

    • I didn’t follow the 7 o clock schedule Theresa. As I said, my schedule is very mixed and I only get home around 10 pm sometimes. I do allow myself to eat then, but I also give myself about 4 hours after to feel hunger again before I go to sleep.

      Find out how long it takes your body to digest a big meal and feel hungry again and then use it after work. Eat when you get home or if you go to any resaurant, but plan it so that by the time you go to bed, you’ll be hungry again.

  9. I’ve always heard you shouldn’t eat too late and everything you said makes sense. Your body is probably gearing up for sleep and the last thing it wants to do is digest more food. I don’t really see the hard of eating a little snack but I can see how eating right before bed would do harm.

    Thanks for the info.

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