As a seasoned writer that has lost over one hundred pounds of fat/weight myself, and managed to maintain it, I explain the benefits of not eating at night, show you my personal results, but also teach you not only what time you should stop eating, but also how to get the most out of this new healthy habit that very possibly could change your life for the better too.
I first heard of not eating after 8 pm to lose weight from a friend named Kaiti. I wondered what she was doing to look so fit (she looked as good if not better than she did before having had her 2 kids) and she told me that she and her husband had been setting a rule of “don’t eat past 8” for the past couple of months.
Benefits of not eating after 6, 7, 8, or 9 pm:
Kaiti explained that it was beneficial for them to not eat after a certain time of day, because the late at night eating is when they had normally made their worst (unhealthiest and most fattening) food choices of the day. As well as it was naturally making them eat less than they did before.
This logic seemed sound to me, so after a couple of weeks of seriously thinking about it, I decided that I would give it a try too. I had no idea then, that it was going to end up being one of the healthiest habits that I have ever formed, and that it would eventually aide me in my fitness journey (I had always been the chubby girl and then developed and struggled with binge eating disorder for 15 years on top of that).
I am now at the healthiest body fat percentage of my whole life, and wanted to share with you guys how drastic a positive change this little tip has had on my life (make sure check out the comparison pics of me at my heaviest vs. me now down lower in this post).
This tip is especially helpful for people that don’t particularly like to count calories… basically, not eating past a certain time of day an easy way to restrict your calorie intake a little bit so that you are not eating as much as you want as often as you want.
At What time should you stop eating?
What time to stop eating at night entirely depends on what time you go to bed, how physically active you are during the day, and what you’re hoping to accomplish with your personal fitness goals.
My recommendations are:
If you want to lose weight, the less hours per day you are allowing yourself to eat, the more likely you will be to slim down. I typically have to give myself at least three hours of not eating before bedtime to see good results when I want to lose weight. So think about what time you typically go to bed on a regular night, and set the goal to stop eating about three hours prior to that time…or, sometimes I don’t eat dinner anymore and just have a protein shake for my last meal…it’s another great way to cut calories.
When should you stop eating if you want to just maintain your weight? You may need to play around with what time works best for you…but not eating at night is a great way to not let yourself get out of control (especially if you have a problem with binge eating), and it will definitely be the answer to the question of “how to stop snacking after dinner?”…you basically just need train yourself, little by little, not to eat after whatever time is best for you and your situation at home.
How do I stop eating at night?
When I first started not eating after 7 or 8 pm, I really struggled. This was in the days before I knew what intermittent fasting was or had overcome my binge eating disorder, and I had to use some major baby steps to get in the habit to stop eating about a half hour before bedtime.
After a week or two, I increased my goal to “no eating one hour before bedtime”… and slowly and surely I added to that goal until I could easily manage not eating after 6 or 7 pm on an almost daily basis.
I have now been doing this for years (it has helped me lose over 100 lbs and get to my dream body actually), but back then it was tough to train myself not to graze in the evenings.
In order to create a lasting habit, you need to learn to set yourself up for success. Here are some of the things that I do that really help me stay on track with this goal:
- I eat a super nutritious breakfast every morning that is full of healthy fats, quality carb, and high in protein. If you would like to read about my breakfast ritual, go here.
- Keep trying!…even if you fall on your face one night, or if no one tells you you’re looking better, keep picking yourself back up and trying your hardest to reach your little goals.
- Don’t use the excuse that “I’m not going to be eating tonight, so I better stuff my face all day”. Learn to listen to your body and it will tell you when you’ve had enough to eat. Don’t cram as much food into your face as you can those last hours of the day… you’ll survive, I promise.
- Make sure that you are eating enough protein because it will help keep you full longer. I have another post on how much protein you should be eating, if you would like to read it, you can do so here.
- Make sure that the carbohydrates that you are eating contain whole grains and you are getting enough dietary fiber in your diet because they keep you feeling full longer too.
- Drinking enough water is also important, I wrote a post about why you need to make sure you’re drinking enough water, but if you don’t want to read it, you basically just need to know that staying well hydrated reduces cravings, especially for sweets, and makes it so that you’re much less likely to overeat.
My results no eating after 8 pm for six months:
This was back in some of my heaviest days, but this was a six month difference with not eating after 7 or 8 pm (keep in mind, I was still in the throws of binge eating disorder at the time)…but even considering that, just this one simple little change helped me drop about 40 lbs in six months…and that was a huge win for me back then.
Things that I noticed when I first started the challenge:
- The first two or so weeks were the hardest for me. I had many, many years worth of bad habits to break, so it took some time to get used to not just eating out of boredom. Plus, I was a little hungry after 9 pm (but only at night) that first month.
- By week three, I noticed that I literally could not eat as much in a sitting as I could before. This makes sense because since I hadn’t done any binge eating (stretching my stomach) for a few weeks, my stomach had shrunk so I was getting full faster.
- By about week seven I noticed that I started getting these little bursts of energy and then that energy slowly became more consistent. I now have energy for pretty much the entire day.
- The hardest part was just being patient with myself. Don’t give up! Take it one day at a time and try not to think much past that.
Before I set the goal to stop eating at night, and decided that it was going to work for me, I started paying attention to just how much I was eating after 8 pm. That was sure an eye opener. It was usually between 500 & 800 calories (minimum per night) and if it had been a particularly hard day that triggered a binge…probably like 3k+ calories…gag…I know! It’s really embarrassing, but people need to know just how much it all adds up. You don’t get fat in one day.
You should start trying to pay attention to how much eating you are doing after dinnertime too…just the self-awareness alone may help you stop snacking after dinner.
My long term results, of not eating at night:
Like I said before, developing the habit to not eat at night helped me get down to and stay at my current size (it in addition to my other healthy habits, you can see all of the free posts I have written about fitness here).
At my heaviest I wore US women’s size 2XL tops and size 18/20 pants, and now I wear size S/M tops and size 4 pants.
Not eating at night, which is basically just intermittent fasting for beginners, was a total game-changer and I definitely recommend adding it to your personal fitness habits.
I used to barely be able to walk because of how heavy I was (during my 20’s I topped out at 290 lbs) and now in my late 30’s I can mountain bike 10 miles without too much effort.
This habit helped me get my life back, and I know it will help you too if you are patient and loving enough with yourself to allow it to change you for the better. I promise, it is worth it!
Not eating after 7 or 8 pm works for me because the end of the day is when I did the majority of my stress eating. This works for me because I used to eat my feelings, I’d have a hard day and then medicate with food.
Night time is when the kids are all in bed and I actually have time to worry about things. Since then, I’ve had to learn to deal with my problems rather than just eating them, and you can read about how I overcame binge eating disorder here (btw, it’s helpful for overcoming any type of eating disorder).
Guess what guys? Even Dr. Oz recommends not eating three hours prior to bedtime…so there’s even more credibility to what I am saying about it, because yes, I know I’m no Doctor, or nutritionist, or professional in any way so take my advice, or leave it.
Remember that you always need to run any type of drastic dietary change by your Dr. or nutritionist before you do it, to keep yourself healthy/safe.
So, to recap, you basically just need to determine your average bedtime and then stop eating at least 3 hours prior to that every night and that should do it…as far as developing it as a new habit goes.
I do suggest having a firm time set though, it keeps you more accountable rather than telling yourself “oh, I just ate a ton of food…I better stay up three more hours so that I can say that I hit my goal for today”.
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and supporting my endeavors to make people’s lives a little healthier/easier/better. If you liked this fitness post, or found it helpful in any way, please make sure to share it with your family, friends, and co-workers via social media…or you could even send them the direct link via email. Whichever way you choose to spread the love, I super appreciate it! ~Sarah
Here are the individual posts in my free extreme weight loss series. You are not going to want to miss out on any of them is you have ever struggled with fitness/weight loss in general. I break it all down so that anyone can understand it (both the pictures and headings are links, so you can click on the picture to whichever post you would like to read):
Step 2: How to understand fitness in general:
Here are some of my other helpful wellness tips:
*More fitness posts will be added here at I continue to write the series.
For those of you that would like the option of another “pinnable image” to share on Pinterest, here you go. Thanks again so much for the support!
*Please note that this post was originally published to this website on May 17th, 2014 and has since been updated to give you the best information possible, improve user experience, as well as make it as shareable as possible on the social medias.