If early-to-bed, early-to-rise isn’t your thing, consider yourself a night owl. Night owls not only tend to hit their stride later in the day, they eat more food later in the day. According to a 2017 Finnish study, early birds and night owls eat about the same amount of total daily calories, but owls eat less protein and more sugar, fat and alcohol, especially on weekends. They also consume 20% of total calories after 8pm--an eating pattern associated with increased risk of weight gain and heart disease.
Here are three ways night owls can fly right to avoid health and diet pitfalls.
- Eat breakfast. This early bird no-brainer can feel out of place for a night owl since breakfast is more like lunch. Regardless of the time on the clock, eat within 60-90 minutes of waking because waiting too long can lead to overeating later on. Late-risers tend to eat less protein and more sugar and fat, so aim for a combo of nuts or yogurt with fruit, a fiber rich cereal with milk, or eggs and whole grain toast to kick off your day.
- Limit alcohol. On average, night owls drink twice as much as early birds, which can result in weight gain and poor food choices. Limit the total amount of alcohol, be sure to account for the 100-150 calories in each serving, and avoid late night drive-through burritos to help control weight!
- Find the right pattern. Our society may seem better suited for morning types, but a night owl’s health can thrive in an early bird’s world! Figure out what works best for you with respect to mealtimes and exercise. Eating a heavy meal at the end of the day? Try eating your largest meal in the middle of the day. Have more energy at night? Hit the treadmill or the pool after dark. When it comes to improving health, one size does not fit all!