For the love of God and all that's holy! Yes you can! In fact we would rather like it if you did.
Good news right? But let's not wrap it up there, we’re going to explain the reasons why eating after 6pm doesn't make fat surge into your ass the minute a ham & cheese toastie passes your lips.
Lets assume for a moment that it is true that if you eat after 6pm then you will get fatter. How does that work exactly?
Firstly we have never seen a pancreas that wears a wrist watch and is conscious that its the end of its shift and then when it finishes it’s ‘shift’ what does it do then? I can’t imagine it sat with a cup of tea watching Game Of Thrones and I also can’t imagine for one second that Mr Pancreas and Mr Liver hang out playing Xbox.
That analogy is as ridiculous as the concept of your internal organs effectively clocking off at a certain time of day. The simple fact is that whatever time you decide to ingest some food your body will respond with all of its many enzymes and begin to break the food down into individual nutrients that will then be transported by your blood stream and either utilised by your body or its surplus calories could become stored as fat (Adipose) in a fat cell (Adipocyte).
This will bend your mind - Given that your stomach is basically a big storage sack for undigested food, a waiting room for food if you will. Then theoretically if your organs ‘stop working’ at 6pm then surely eating after 6pm would be beneficial?
Surely that way all of the food you ate after 6pm would just sit in your stomach (the waiting area) whilst it waited for your organs to start their new shift at…I don’t know lets say 8am?
Therefore you wouldn’t need to eat the whole of the next day!
Think of it like those old storage heaters you used to see in schools in the 90’s. No! Just no, this is absurd and makes no anatomical sense what so ever as hopefully you are beginning to realise. So now I have indulged in a good old fashioned rant how about I tell you the facts?
Anyone that truly knows anything about nutrition will encourage you to eat right up until you go to sleep, whether that be 8pm or 3am. This is because unless you are dead you are constantly burning energy.
That's right folks even after 6pm and even whilst you are asleep. Joe average will get through a fairly substantial 700kcals in an 8 hour sleep so if you don’t eat after 6pm and then get up at 8am you would of gone 14 hours without food which means that for 14 hours your body has had to find energy from somewhere other than the food you ate.
This energy is called muscle glycogen and is designed to sustain you for short periods of time until you can find more food. Us humans are natural grazers and require north of 300g of carbohydrates per day just for maintenance. So the idea is that we constantly graze all day so as to keep our blood and muscle glycogen at a level so we can function as intended.
What is glycogen I hear you cry?
Glycogen is the stuff that your liver converts carbohydrates into so that we can utilise it for energy. If we don’t eat it we start using stored muscle glycogen for fuel, and when that runs out, well its not good.
Basically our own amino acids start to break down our own tissues for fuel. So to go 14 hours without food is a bad idea as you will find yourself playing glycogen catch up the next day and won’t be adequately fueled through your sleep. however eat right up until 11pm and then get up at 8am and you have reduced your fast by 5 hours and put enough fuel into your body to get you through the night and achieve glycogen maintenance giving you a head start the next day. Eating constantly until bed time also helps maintain a stable blood glucose for more hours which means more time for glucagon, insulin and epinephrine to their job of lipolysis (fat burning) and ultimately make you thinner quicker.
So in short by eating after 6pm and through until bedtime can actually help you lose body fat faster not slower if the right choices are made and the right overall calorie deficits are achieved. Athletes will set an alarm to wake them to eat every 2 hours throughout the night just so they can eat…I wonder why a professional sportsperson looking to get every last drop of awesome out of him or herself would do something like that???