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SCIENCE FILE / An exploration of issues and trends
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I Didn't Know That . . .

November 12, 1998

Q: Are foods consumed at bedtime more likely to cause weight gain?

A: Only if the foods represent extra calories that your body doesn't need, according to the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter. A variety of experiments conducted in the past two decades have shown that the time of day food is eaten is not important--only the total number of calories eaten and the number of calories expended. Studies by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in particular, have shown that eating before bedtime has no effect on weight gain as long as the total number of calories consumed is kept at recommended levels. Calories consumed at night will simply be burned as needed. Incidentally, the body burns about 50 calories per hour while sleeping.

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