Don’t eat before bed. You’ve heard it said before but what harm could a couple of bites do? According to a new study, plenty.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital had 110 college-aged students to log their meals and the time of which they ate and the results will have you second guessing whether or not you actually need those three extra chicken wings out of the fridge.

Those subjects that ate closer to their bedtime were shown to have higher BMI and body fat. The later you eat, the lower the thermic effect of food. The thermic effect of food is the caloric cost of digesting and processing different macronutrients that are consumed daily. This means your expanding waistline could be caused by when you’re eating rather than what you’re eating, so monitoring when you eat on your circadian cycle is important.

Snacking before bed can sometimes cause you to consume another meal’s worth of food. This can be caused by emotion-led eating or not eating enough during the day. It’s also best to avoid late night snacking as it can interfere with sleep quality.

While there is still much research to be done beyond the young test subjects, the control group serves as an outline to begin mapping who may be more vulnerable to gaining weight due to their nighttime routines.

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