“Nighttime snacking adds a lot of unneeded calories,” says Dr. Joseph Murray, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist. “Our body’s metabolism is slowing down, and we are still shoveling fuel into a vessel that doesn’t need it.”
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Dr. Murray says, beyond the extra calories, late-night snacking also can interrupt an essential function of the digestive system.
In today’s Mayo Clinic Minute, Dr. Murray explains what happens in your gut while you sleep and why that last snack of the day can be a problem. Jeff Olsen reports.
Jeff Olsen: As you wind down your day, your metabolism slows too. But your digestive system is gearing up for work.
Joseph Murray, M.D., Gastroenterology, Mayo Clinic: “As soon as we fall asleep, our intestines start sending waves of contractions down the intestine, from the stomach down to the intestine, to clean it out.”
Jeff Olsen: Gastroenterologist Dr. Joseph Murray says eating before bed interrupts this essential nighttime function.
Joseph Murray, M.D.: “You’re filling the stomach full of food. It’s not ready
for that. It’s not meant to be doing food processing. It’s meant to be doing housecleaning.”
Jeff Olsen & Graphic:
Extra calories, Risk for heartburn
Jeff Olsen : Dr. Murray says late-night snacking adds extra, generally unneeded calories. And it puts you at risk for heartburn.
Joseph Murray, M.D.: “And, then, of course, you’ve got people waking up – especially men – waking up an hour or two after going to bed with indigestion.”
Jeff Olsen & Graphic:
Stop eating 3 hours before bed
Jeff Olsen: Dr. Murray says it’s best to stop eating three hours before bedtime.
Graphic: Make a snack small and easily digestible
And if you do need a snack, make it a small, easily digestible one, like a banana or a protein smoothie.
“And, then, I tell people to stay up a little bit later. Give it a little bit longer to allow your stomach to process.”
For the Mayo Clinic News Network, I’m Jeff Olsen.