I try and have my last meal about 3-4 hours before sleeping. This means that I'm going to be just on the edge of being hungry at the time I go to sleep. I usually have a bit of water, and hit the hay.

I heard previously eating a lot before sleeping is just going to pack on weight. However, body repair and muscle building may happen overnight. If I worked out during the day, I'm afraid the nightly muscle building routines may not complete optimally.

So, what is the effect of sleeping hungry on:

  1. body fat
  2. muscle building,

assuming you worked out that day?

  • Eating more often does not enhance your metabolic system, but it will tell your body that it will be fed so it doesn't need to store fat for later.
    – user5676
    Apr 23 '13 at 7:34

From a weight loss perspective, the most important factor, by far, is overall caloric intake. The exact timing is far less important. If you eat the same number of calories overall, it doesn't matter if you eat something 10 minutes before sleep vs. 10 hours before sleep. Of course, meal timing can have an impact on hunger/energy levels, so eating more frequently can help from a psychological standpoint. However, most things you hear about meal timing - including "eat more frequently to boost your metabolism" - are total myths disproven by many studies (this article mentions a few).

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    The thing is, studies are biased. So it's possible that one study may of course conflict with another because of the human factor. People don't always calculate all the variables. What's funny, is the link you've included actually admits frequent meals work while still calling it a myth.
    – jmort253
    Mar 19 '11 at 8:05
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    @jmort253: you need to understand that metabolism has a precise meaning. If calories are kept constant, eating more often does NOT increase metabolism. This doesn't mean eating more often doesn't work - as I said, it can affect other things, like hunger and energy levels - but the reason they work is NOT due to an increase in metabolism! Mar 19 '11 at 8:14
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    Perhaps it would help (both this thread and the one on the other answer) to provide a (the?) definition of metabolism. According to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metabolism, metabolism is essentially a catch-all name for a whole set of chemical reactions, which include but are not limited to several reactions relating to digestion and energy management.
    – G__
    Mar 19 '11 at 19:28
  • @Greg: metabolism is indeed the set of chemical reactions that sustain life, but when it comes to dieting, the definition people usually think of is how many calories those chemical reactions burn. Some people have a "higher" metabolism and naturally burn more calories than people with "lower" metabolism even if height/weight/activity levels/etc are otherwise similar. I'm trying to debunk the myth that frequency of meals can somehow affect your metabolism and let you burn more calories just by timing your food intake differently. As shown by the studies above, this just isn't true. Mar 19 '11 at 20:16
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    I think you're wrong. If you skip breakfast, then you will operate at a lower level (expending less calories), until you have an actual meal. So, at an extreme, if you eat nearly nothing all day, then have a gigantic meal before you sleep, you op at a low level all day, then pack on the fat overnight (ironically to use the next day)
    – bobobobo
    Nov 12 '11 at 16:44

You might want to take a look at (and perhaps avoid) sumo wrestlers' eating/sleeping patterns. According to them, the keys to their "fatness" are:

  • skipping breakfast
  • napping after a meal
  • eating a lot of carbs

and off course taking in a lot of calories.

  • This is exactly what I'm talking about. Nice info about the sumo wrestlers
    – bobobobo
    Nov 12 '11 at 16:45
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    I'm sorry, but what does this hove to do with the actual question? I'm fairly sure he isn't asking for tips on becoming a sumo wrestler... Apr 25 '13 at 2:57
  • Sumo wrestlers is a focus group for fat gain and fat loss studies.
    – Eelvex
    Apr 25 '13 at 9:37

You don't want to go to bed starving because your body won't have the fuel to repair itself, but at the same time you don't want to over-eat either since you won't be burning as many calories while you sleep.

I recommend a light, healthy snack to provide your body fuel without packing on the pounds. Consider that when you starve yourself, it puts your body into storage mode, slowing down your metabolism. The very act of eating frequent, smaller meals actually helps to boost your metabolic rate.

UPDATE: Here is just one of many resources on the subject of eating more frequently to boost your metabolism:

Proper diet will increase and speed up your metabolism. It is important to never skip a meal or go on any type of starvation diet. You should always eat healthy snacks between meals. The idea is to eat frequently to prevent hunger pangs, and to keep your energy levels consistent which in turn will increase and speed up your metabolism.

Source: Metabolism

Eat small, frequent meals. Extending the time between meals makes your body go into "starvation mode," which decreases your metabolism as a means to conserve energy and prevent starvation. Skipping meals does not help you cut calories or lose weight; in fact, people generally eat less overall when they eat small, frequent meals. In addition to having four to six small meals per day[6], eating healthy snacks will also increase metabolism.[2]

Source: Increase Your Metabolism

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    Eating more smaller meals does NOT boost your metabolic rate. Mar 19 '11 at 7:41
  • Perhaps you should read up on the subject, or maybe provide evidence to the contrary instead of just typing in all caps.
    – jmort253
    Mar 19 '11 at 7:59
  • The "Metabolism" article you linked doesn't mention a single study related to "eating more frequently increasing metabolism". On the other hand, many studies have proven the exact opposite, such as the ones mentioned in this article: theiflife.com/… Mar 19 '11 at 8:00
  • The second article you posted ("Increase Your Metabolism") is no better. The [6] reference is a WebMD article that does not cite anything. It mentions some Georgia State study - which I can't seem to find anywhere - but explains that calories were NOT kept constant. Therefore, it proves nothing about "eating more frequently" affecting metabolism. The [2] reference is also a WebMD article and this one mentions no studies whatsoever. So I tell you once more: all studies I've seen that actually kept calories constant but varied meal timing show that timing does NOT affect metabolism. Mar 19 '11 at 8:18
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    Please re-read what I wrote: I did NOT say that "eating more frequently doesn't help you lose weight". I said that "eating more frequently does not increase metabolism". There are some studies that support the former, but pretty much all studies disprove the latter. I'm adamant because this is a non-trivial distinction. It's important that people understand that simply eating more often - but the same quantity overall - won't magically make them lose weight. Mar 19 '11 at 8:33

Generally you need to have a 500 calorie deficit every day to lose approximately a pound a week. Losing weight is all about calories in vs. calories out. Quality of your meals is also paramount. Garbage in = garbage out after all.

So long as what is or isn't in your stomach does not affect your ability to sleep, that's all that matters so that your body can repair your muscles. Personally, I can't go to sleep hungry. You need quality sleep and avoid overeating for weight loss.

Waking up ravenous may make some people overeat during their first meal. If you need to eat smaller, more frequent meals while incorporating healthy snacks to avoid being so hungry for the next meal, then that might be what you need to avoid over indulging. If you are used to eating 3 "full" meals, then that is fine too.

Keep your overall calories in control and you'll burn fat.


By sleeping hungry I suppose one would not have dinner and not have any meal at least 4 hours before sleep time.

I don't think its a good idea to sleep hungry, though it's ok if you had your last meal 2 hours before bedtime. Next morning you will be ravenous if you skip dinner and may overeat at breakfast. Sleeping hungry also affects sleep quality.

On the other hand, its not good practice to crash into bed just after eating your dinner. It will convert all the extra sugar straight into fat. It will also slow down rest metabolic rate as sleep requires least calories of all activities. Muscle building/repairing happens overnight anyway and also throughout day, depending on your protein intake too.

There should be a balanced approach. Ideally have dinner 1.5-2 hours before sleeping and if you still feel hungry have a cup of milk or almonds before sleeping. If you are really concerned about weight loss, have no carbs, high protein/high fibre dinner which will help to cut down unnecessary calories in form of carbs/fat.


Certainly. The best time to take food is 3-4 hours before sleeping. It will not allow fat to collect and help in the metabolic process. Besides having a light meal at night you can have salad or Vegetarian Snacks which are healthy and fat free. This will not leave you feeling hungry at night and the possibility of fat build up would also be reduced. Healthy snack will keep you fit. For a healthy snacks you can try sheffafoods

  • 1
    What is sheffafoods? A quote from faq, "Be careful, because the community frowns on overt self-promotion and tends to vote it down and flag it as spam. Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, so be it. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers."
    – Freakyuser
    Apr 25 '13 at 10:40
  • This user is new, provided 2 answers in 2 different sites, everyone of them has a reference to some sort of product. I think this user is a SEO bot-worker
    – K.L.
    Apr 25 '13 at 11:59
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    Please explain why you believe that eating 3-4 hours is best. Also, how will healthy snacks keep you fit? Isn't it better not to eat snacks at all? Apr 25 '13 at 14:51

Studies show that proteins are available for the body only for a limited time after ingestion, and can be present in the body in limited amounts - the rest is wasted. That means that you should ingest proteins frequently in relatively small amounts. That will allow your body to fully use them to repair damage and create nev tissues.

Since a lot of the regeneration takes place while we sleep, i dont think going to sleep hungry is the best solution - the body is deprived of necessary nutrients. Id recommend a little protein snack around 1h before going to sleep. IT should be high in protein and low on fat and carbs. I personally like to eat some cottage cheese.

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