The Effects of Nighttime Eating and Starvation

Dear Dr. Everett: Will I lose weight if I stop eating after 6pm?

Dr. Everett’s Answer:

There may be a metabolic benefit to restricting your eating window. Theoretically, discontinuing food intake in the early evening gives your body a better opportunity to break down fat before the next day’s meal. It takes at least 6 hours of “fasting” before the body begins to burn fat for fuel. Prior to that, fuel is obtained either directly from dietary carbohydrates, or from glycogen stores in the muscles and liver. Once you stop eating and those glycogen stores are depleted, fat stores are broken down.

Weight loss will only occur if there is an overall calorie deficit, so cutting yourself off after the early bird special will not result in weight loss if you ordered the triple bacon cheeseburger with super sized fries and a milk shake. To summarize:

But it does know when you have exceeded your caloric intake.

Dear Dr. Everett: I really want to lose weight, so I am just going to stop eating.

Dr. Everett’s Answer:

Don’t over do it with severe caloric restriction. Once the body senses a shortage of fuel, which can happen after 48- 72 hours of inadequate nutrients, it goes into energy conservation mode where it requires less fuel to perform its usual functions. This leads to a decline in weight loss, and increased fat storage and muscle loss. The minimum number of calories required to avoid this varies according to your baseline metabolic rate and activity level. Most dieting men require at least 1500- 1800 calories a day while women need 1200-1500 calories a day. The exception to this is a medically supervised low calorie diet. These diets are unusually low in calories while providing maximum rate of weight loss due to the use of nutritionally dense, low calorie meals or meal replacements, key dietary supplements, and frequent medical monitoring. For more information about medical weight loss, schedule an appointment with Dr. Everett.

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