Late Night Snacking: The Hidden Cause of Freshman Fifteen

by SANDRA BOUTROS

As busy college students, quite often we are very caught up in our busy class schedules and extracurriculars. In this, we are often inclined to stay up late in order to attain a decent amount of studying and cramming in those late night papers. However, late night studying doesn’t always include drinking numerous cups of coffee, but also includes late night snacking. It is quite difficult as a college student to avoid bad eating habits such as skipping meals and eating fast food, but late night snacking and lack of sleep could be an immense contributor to weight gain or the infamous “Freshman Fifteen”.

Now you might wonder “How late is too late to eat dinner?” A recent study from Northwestern Medicine demonstrated that late sleepers, those who slept at an average of 3:45 am and woke up at 10:45 am, “consumed 248 more calories a day”. Although this may not seem like a big amount, “the extra daily calorie can mean a significant weight gain-two pounds per month”. Additionally, the timing of this calorie consumption was fundamental as well. They found that those who ate after 8:00 pm were most likely to have a higher BMI “even after controlling sleeping timing and duration”.

They found that those who ate after 8:00 pm were most likely to have a higher BMI “even after controlling sleeping timing and duration”.

Our biological timing system regulates our energy use, which, in turn, shows that the timing of meals matter in the balance between caloric intake and expenditure. Thus, this study suggests the importance of eating dinner at a decent time and attaining a decent amount sleep because these factors are integral in weight management and overall health. Therefore, it is important that everyone tries to get seven to eight hours of sleep and focuses on planning on healthy snacks and meals during the day to avert from late night snacking.

 

This post was provided by SEARCH, a UCLA SWC Committee.