PUBLISHED: 05/17/2016 | BY: Dan McNeil
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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he question “How can I stop binge eating at night?” is heard over and over again. If we “cheat” while on diet, we do it almost exclusively in the late hours. We can be disciplined in terms of healthy eating during the day, but by night it’s a different story. After all, this is a time when we want to relax, reenergize, meet family and friends, and this naturally revolves around food.
The opposite of those plans that call for avoiding carbs after 6pm, The Half-Day Diet, by fitness expert Nate Miyaki, requires you to eat your biggest meal in the evening. All your favorite foods, including carbs and sweets, are allowed, as long as you stick within your daily calorie limit.
That’s it. He believes that the most effective diet plans are the ones in which the majority of calories and carbohydrates are eaten at night. The actual “dieting” should be done during the day while your body is using energy and you are occupied with things other than food.
This way of eating is a sustainable plan for the LONG-TERM because “it is based on our evolutionary history and instinct, it naturally aligns with engrained psychological and social patterns, it triggers fat burning during the day and anabolic activity at night.” says Miyaki.
Basically, it is one of the easiest, most satisfying, and enjoyable ways to diet, as well as the easiest and fastest way to get the results you’re looking for.
Eating in the evening is our natural instinct
You can see how this worked for our hunter-gatherer ancestors. They could not afford to eat 6 meals a day. Back then it was always feast or famine.
They spend their day hunting and gathering their food and low intake helps keep them feel awake, alert, and ready for action. The body responds to fasting via the release of adrenaline which makes the mind sharp and the body energized as it is triggered by the need to react quickly. Eating a large meal during the day uses up energy for digestion, which is taken away from the energy needed for activity.
Then later they would return home with whatever they caught, they were resting around a fire enjoying nightly feast. This was time of relaxing, restoring energy for the next day. Thus the majority of their calories were eaten at night, right before sleep.
Eating carbs at night does not make you fat
The popular view that we should not eat after 6 pm is just another myth based on the false notion that your body will not be burning calories when you sleep (and that food will instead be stored as fat). While it seems reasonable at first glance, research shows that during sleep your metabolism does not slow down; the average amount of energy expended during sleep is close to the resting metabolic rate during the day.
Moreover, people who manage to exercise regularly (unless they are obese) have a sleeping metabolic rate which is notably higher than their resting metabolic rate.
So sleep does not slow your metabolism, and more importantly, it can actually provide calorie-burning benefits.
Avoiding the high-carb breakfast can certainly keep you out of trouble. In the morning, after an overnight fast, when your blood sugar and insulin levels are low, your body’s reaction to carbohydrates will be exaggerated. The rapid, large deployment of insulin after a carb loaded breakfast causes more time OUT of fat-burning mode, compared with eating those carbs later in the day.
What more, after over-secretion of insulin comes a big drop in blood sugar which usually resulting in an energy crash, triggers hunger attacks – and cravings for even more carbohydrates!
The ‘Half-day dieting’ also works on deep set psychological patterns and easily fits into our busy lifestyle.
Not only does this work from a physiological standpoint, it also works on a deep psychological level. Humans work in a cycle of sacrifice and reward. We can tolerate discomfort to access pleasure.
Most people can cut calories, restrict carbs or even undergo a fasting durning the day if they can reward themselves with a delicious and satisfying meal at night.
In fact, a lot of people do not get hungry during the daytime as there are too many other things to occupy, stress, or engage them. This makes it quite easy to cut calories during the day and simply eat less.
Having large meals throughout the day simply does not fit into the schedules of busy professionals and it can actually backfire. For example, the mid-afternoon slump is a direct result of a post-lunch blood-sugar drop. An almost overwhelming wave of sleepiness, tiredness, and loss of concentration that can severely impact productivity.
Most people get hungry at the end of the day, at night. They reserve the evening hours to relax after a busy day, this is when we psychologically crave food, and it’s also when we can repair our bodies and restock our reserves of energy for the next day’s challenges.
Since eating more at night comes naturally, why not to make this a part of your lifestyle?
How the Half Day Diet works
In his program, Miyaki learns in detail how you can transform all those principles into an everyday routine. He based his program on two main ‘pillars’:
While timing, meal frequency, and food distribution all help with applying the diet to your daily life, the author sees the most important elements of weight loss as good food choices and sticking to your targeted numbers: the right calories, and the correct amounts and ratios of protein, carbs, dietary fat.
Miyaki recommends: “Cut out processed, man-made foods, and return to your evolutionary, ancestral, or cultural past by eating more real, natural foods like wild animals and plants.”
In other words, although the meal-timing strategy is powerful, it won’t make you lose weight alone.
You still must balance your caloric intake and focus on eating the right foods. If you replace the carbs you usually eat during the day with fat and proteins, then eat a lot of carbs at night, will only cause you to gain weight. Ultimately it won’t matter when you consume your carbs if if you don’t maintain a calorie deficit.
Customized diet and exercise plan
Miyaki strongly emphasizes the need for a diet and exercise program specifically tailored to your own needs and objectives. This will enable you to start working on your problem areas immediately and help you achieve your goals faster and more easily.
The author’s general approach on “HOW to eat” makes up the first part of an article. It can be summarized as “eat less frequently during the day, and enjoy a nice dinner rich in carbs at night.”
However, the exact diet structure, your food choices, and the type and intensity of your workout are all based your individual body needs, goals, lifestyle habits, the level of activity, likes and dislikes.
The author’s program gives you many tools to help you easily create a personalized plan, including exact numbers of calories and macronutrient amounts and ratios, lists of foods and replacements, pre- and post-workout food modifications, and a personalized exercise routine.
Want to go a step further?
If a “night feast” idea makes you feel all excited and you want to follow a more structured plan, here you can learn all the details about Half Day Diet:
- Seale JL, Conway JM. “Relationship between overnight energy expenditure and BMR measured in a room-sized calorimeter.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999 Feb;53(2):107-11.
- Zhang K et al. “Sleeping metabolic rate in relation to body mass index and body composition.” International Journal of Obesity. 2002 Mar;26(3):376-83.
- Mischler, Isabelle, et al. “Prolonged daytime exercise repeated over 4 days increases sleeping heart rate and metabolic rate.” Canadian journal of applied physiology 2003 Aug;28(4):616-29.
- Sofer, Sigal, et al. “Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner.” Obesity. 2011 Oct;19(10):2006-2014.
- Sofer, S., et al. “Changes in daily leptin, ghrelin and adiponectin profiles following a diet with carbohydrates eaten at dinner in obese subjects.” Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases 23.8 (2013): 744-750.