If you’re on the ketogenic diet, you know that there are a few general principles that you want to follow in order to see maximum results. One of those principles is that you should look to adapt to an intermittent fasting style eating window which means not eating after a certain time in the evening.
But what if you’re still hungry? And what if you’re not seeing the weight loss results that you were hoping for? In this blog post, we will discuss how late you can eat on the keto diet and still lose weight.
We will also provide some tips for overcoming common challenges associated with this diet!
Can You Eat Late Meals and Lose Fat?
When you are looking to lose body fat managing what you eat is very important and the length of time between feedings can play a part also, as when you are between meals your body has to resort to stored body fat conversion for energy needs.
We live in a day and age where you never need to go any length of time between eating, this leads to grazing like cattle and similarly to cattle the continual growth of fat, especially the bad visceral fat around your midsection.
For many when they eat late they are eating more calorically dense and very tasty foods, think of those fat bombs and other foods. These are heavy in calories and anything your body doesn’t need will be preferably converted into body fat and insidious weight gain.
So when trying to lose body fat it makes little sense to eat in a manner that causes more body fat storage as we all know, me too much so, that getting those body fat pounds back off is much more complex than adding them!
Why Do People Worry About Late Eating?
Much of your late-night eating as I stated above causes an increase in body fat storage as most people are at their lowest energy output at the end of the night so increasing calorie intake yields poor utilization of these calories and more storage.
Inhibit Stored Body Fat Use
Additionally, if you eat food you tell your body to prepare to use what calories just came in from the mouth as it knows there is an energy source available and now it doesn’t need to access stored body fat for calories.
Instead, you are wanting your body to be fairly low in free calories so that at night any storage is fully minimized and that your body is primed to use body fat as needed through the night and as long into the morning as possible.
This would mean delaying breakfast, which of course goes against “conventional wisdom” because the longer you don’t eat the more your body will have to supplement energy needs by converting fat cells into energy.
Increased Low-Value Caloric Intake
Most foods at night tend to be less valuable crappy junk food, they don’t contain any high-value minerals, vitamins, or antioxidants and are typically high poor quality fats, sugar and carbs, and salt.
So when you eat these foods late at night your body isn’t getting anything good for it, just more calories that will probably turn into stored body fat.
Who Should Limit Late Meal Consumption?
Now not all people on a keto diet, or even just low-carb diets, are looking for body fat loss so this story has to be nuanced based on your personal needs and not just a blanket answer.
For those who really are looking to utilize a ketogenic diet to lose weight and body fat, the answer is that you need to start halting the poor eating habits you have already developed over decades of life.
The others who will look to manage this will be those who are performance athletes who have a varied need for energy and fat stores, this will typically be done though with a doctor and nutritionist since high-performance needs are vastly different than the average joe or jane.
The Overweight and Obese
This is a large portion of people who start and follow a ketogenic diet and for them, eating late meals is almost a guarantee that they will not see the results they are looking for as their body is always primed to convert any excess food into stored body fat.
Most overweight people have a problem, or maybe many, that they have solved by eating them away. Many have tied this back to childhood food rewards for doing something well, then the brain ties food to this good feeling and hence endorphin release and quite literally an addiction.
The change to not eat late will be a hard change for many as it could be possibly a late-night reward for working all day, managing family and life, or similar.
The Performance Focused
If you are an athlete on a keto diet there are probably reasons, to decrease inflammation, enhance endurance sport performance, or many other reasons that are not weight-loss related.
For those people, you will need to experiment with how late you can eat and still perform at your optimal level, this will be different for everyone. This may mean you need to eat more regardless of the time of day, as your body will be breaking down more fat and then muscle as fuel if under-eating.
Again, these are generalities and you should speak with a professional who understands your specific needs before making any huge dietary changes.
Best Late Night Keto Snacks
When you first start the change of diet to a high-fat diet like the keto diet you may find you are incredibly hungry at all hours and in the case, you have a hunger you can’t just out-patience here are some suggestions for good foods to fill hunger needs.
Many will look for instantly available late-night food, especially carby foods, and try to avoid cooking and adding time to wait which is what leads to such poor foods being consumed, the following should be ready near-instantly to make a better choice.
One of the staples for nearly all keto dieters would be eggs, in this case, hard-boiled is perfect because they are ready, and when the snack urge comes they can be grabbed and eaten without preparation.
Half an Avocado
As simple as it sounds, take an Avocado and cut it in half and then scoop out the inside and get those higher-quality fats into your stomach, for many this will be all they need to cut those hunger attacks off at the pass.
Any well-aged cheese will do, but the sharper the taste the less you will need to eat to feel satisfied. Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan are all great choices that should be readily available, and if not they can last a long time in the fridge.
My favorite snack is pepperoni, it always hits the right spot and helps me stop snacking on other things I know I shouldn’t. It is processed meat, so eat in moderation but it is better than reaching for many other junk foods you will have laying around the house.
Another solid choice but needs to be eaten sparingly as they are high in calories, but they are perfect for a ketogenic diet as they are high in healthy fats and low in carbs. Macadamia, Walnut, Pecan are all great choices that will help stop you from raiding the cupboard late at night.
These are just some ideas to get you started, always listen to your body and if you feel you need more food then eat more, it is better to have too much than not enough.
Eating late at night is often cited as a weight-loss no-no. And while it’s true that eating before bed can cause you to pack on the pounds, there are exceptions to every rule.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have to eat at certain times on keto?
No, there is no specific timeframe you have to eat in, but it is generally recommended to try and eat within a controlled window to break the habit of purely time-based eating. This means eating all of your meals within that time frame and fasting for the other hours.
What time do you stop eating on keto?
For most, the choice will be to stop 12 hours before the next meal, so if you eat at 6 pm then the next meal you would want to have occurred after 6 am. The longer you can go without eating the more body fat has to be converted to energy to fulfill the needs of your body.
Can you have a midnight snack on keto?
Yes, but if your goals are body fat loss then it is recommended to have a none if possible, if this isn’t possible then instead choose a very small snack rather than a bigger snack or meal. This will help you avoid the issue of eating too much late at night which can offset your goals.
Final Thoughts on Keto and Eating Late at Night
While it is possible to eat later on keto and still lose weight, it’s not the best idea. Eating late can make it difficult to stick to your macros, and can also lead to weight gain over time making long-term weight loss difficult.
So while you can definitely indulge in a late-night snack or meal on occasion on a keto diet try to make them nutrient-dense foods when possible.
Just remember it’s not necessarily the best idea especially if you’re looking to lose body fat to eat later into the night, work to break the bad habits and you will get much better and more reliable results.