Should I avoid eating in the middle of the night, and also avoid napping after I eat if I want to lose weight?

ask our dietitian your question todayLiving Healthy the official LA Fitness Blog (2)

question-answer-color-v-2 I know it is important when looking at weight loss and a healthy lifestyle to eat every 3 hours; beginning with your first meal upon waking up within 30 minutes. We basically do a little higher calorie meal and then the next 3 hours is a smaller snack. We keep alternating until about 3 hours before bed and then no more food. We have successfully lost a lot of weight doing this over the past year combining that with working out 6 days a week.

My questions are:

What happens if you wake up in the morning for an hour or two and then go back to sleep? Sometimes we will wake up and can’t go back to sleep right away. What should I do regarding food?

What about eating a snack/meal and then taking a nap? How should we treat that? I know that sleep can mess with metabolism, blood sugar, etc. Should I avoid a nap at all costs right after eating? What about eating right after a nap? – Meredith M.


Glad to hear you’re following a regular eating pattern!

In regards to food intake and timing of slumber, I would say that you should eat for what you are going to do. Assuming you’re energy is balanced and isn’t at a surplus or deficit, then eat to fuel your next activity. Thus, a mid-day nap may not require a snack prior. It’s like putting your day on “pause.” Eating afterward to fuel movement is fine.

A person might burn 100-200 Calories per hour just sitting, depending on body size and age. When awakening prematurely in the AM, you could eat a small snack to tide you over for the hour or two. If you’re not hungry, skip it. You don’t want to get into the habit of eating to put yourself back to sleep anyway.

If naps are unplanned or mid-afternoon, you might look at what you’re eating earlier in the day. Sometimes a sharp rise and fall in blood sugar can cause a slump. Having too little breakfast then overeating at lunchtime is often to blame. Sugars or caffeine can also inflate your blood sugar temporarily, leading to a crash.

Getting adequate uninterrupted sleep is essential for well-being and performance, not to mention muscle building. Look into why you’re rising unexpectedly in the morning and losing precious slumber.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

Do you have a question about your diet or nutrition? Ask our dietitian by submitting your question to or simply ask it in the COMMENTS section below.

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Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.

Posted on February 21, 2014, in Ask Our Dietitian, Health, Helpful, Nutrition, Weight Loss and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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