Does Eating Late at Night Make You Gain Weight? 5 Healthy Eating Myths, Debunked

Myth: Eating after 8 P.M. will make you gain weight. You hear this one all the time—that any food you eat just before bedtime isn’t expended. But Alter says it’s not true! “Unless you are an admitted night-eater, eating at night is not unhealthy and does not make you fat—as long as you aren’t eating too many calories throughout the day,” she says. “There is no ‘magic time to stop eating at night to help lose weight.”

Myth: “Health foods” are better for you. Hey, they’ve got “health” right there in their names, right? But no—that doesn’t always mean they’re any better than regular foods. “There is no real definition of ‘health food,’ or ‘natural food,'” Alter says. “Health foods can be just as high in calories, fat, and salt as other foods—and are often more expensive. Only organic foods have labeling guidelines and are defined by the FDA.”

Myth: A low-carb diet is the best way to lose weight. “Your body needs carbohydrates to work correctly. Low-carb diets can restrict carbohydrates to a dangerous level,” Alter says. But that doesn’t mean that every carb is good for you. “Choose carbohydrate sources from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains when possible. Also, include at least three servings of whole grains into your diet each day.”

Myth: You must eight glasses of water every day. Staying hydrated is super-important, of course—but that doesn’t mean that everyone needs to meet the eight-glasses-a-day suggestion. “Fluid needs vary from person to person,” Alter says. Plus! Coffee, tea, milk, juice, and fluids that come from the foods you eat (soup, fruits, veggies, etc.) also count toward your overall daily water consumption. “Drinking water is not a ‘magic pill’ for weight loss.”

Myth: Fresh foods are always healthier than frozen/canned foods. Fresh fruits and veggies are delish, of course—but guess what? They’re not always the healthier choice. “Fresh foods may lose nutrients while sitting in the grocery store (or your refrigerator),” Alter says. “Frozen foods are usually flash-frozen shortly after harvest and retain the most nutrients possible. Canned foods are often processed quickly and retain most of their nutrients. Both canned and frozen vegetables can be good choices.”

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