If you're trying to lose weight or keep it off, most people will tell you to put the kitchen on lockdown after dinner. No ice cream. No cookies. And, no . . . fruit? Is it really possible that eating fruit at night can cause you to put on pounds, or is this just another misguided diet myth?
"There is no evidence that eating fruit at night leads to weight gain," Ali Webster, PhD, RD, of the International Food Information Council Foundation, told POPSUGAR. "In fact, if you are going to eat something before bed, fruit is one of the better choices you could make." Fruits are low in calories, high in fiber, and a good source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Eating fruit is also associated with lower body weight and a lower risk of weight gain. And it offers another surprising perk. "Unlike other snack options like ice cream or potato chips, fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas have the added benefit of built-in portion control," Dr. Webster said.
On its own, however, eating fruit before bed may not quell your hunger for long. "Pairing fruit with foods that provide some fat and protein offers a good mix of nutrients that will keep you feeling full for longer," she added. For a filling snack that clocks in at under 200 calories, Dr. Webster suggests a small apple with a tablespoon of nut or seed butter or a cup of grapes with a few cheese cubes.
While it's pretty clear there's no reason to fear fruit at night, there is one instance where snacking on fruit may not be the best way to end your day. "If you have issues with heartburn, avoiding acidic fruits like citrus, tomatoes, and pineapple right before bed might be a good idea." Outside of that, a small snack of nature's candy before bed isn't going to derail your healthy diet.
In fact, we may be worrying too much about when we eat. "Although there is growing interest in how the timing of meals and snacks impacts metabolism and energy expenditure, at this point we can't draw any direct connection between eating at night and weight gain," Dr. Webster explained. "It is more important to consider how a nighttime meal or snack fits within the context of your overall health, including how much and what you eat throughout the day, as well as your physical activity and sleep habits."