Why Do We Tend to Overeat in the Evening?

overeating in the evening

Are you unable to stop overeating in the evening no matter how hard you try not to do it? Do you make a quick stop at the kitchen while on your way to bed? If so, you’re not alone, as many people tend to do the same. And according to a recent study, it may all be due to stress.

About the Study

The authors observed a group of 32 overweight adults, half of whom had a binge-eating disorder. As such, they were prone to overeating in the evening and experiencing weight gain as a result.

All participants had to take part in two experiments. Both involved fasting for eight hours before eating a 600-calorie liquid meal. On the first day, they had a liquid meal in the morning. On the second day, they had their meal at 4 pm.

Two hours later, they all underwent an elaborate stress test. Finally, the researchers took their blood samples. When analyzing them, they focused on three hormones: PYY, ghrelin, and cortisol.

What Stress Does to Your Appetite

According to the findings, all participants had high cortisol levels. Also known as the “stress hormone,” high levels of cortisol raise the body’s stress levels and can thus induce a strong immune response.

The authors found that the participants had high levels of ghrelin and low levels of PYY in the evening. As a rule, these two hormones should be in balance. That’s because ghrelin increases your appetite, while PYY helps keep it under control.

Earlier studies also showed that stress leads to an increased production of ghrelin in the body. When there’s more ghrelin, you’re more likely to experience hunger. But without enough PYY, you won’t be able to control your appetite. The authors believe this is the reason why some people are prone to overeating in the evening.

What You Can Do

Based on these findings, the best way to prevent excessive eating late at night is to have a meal earlier in the day. It is also important to find ways to reduce stress, as it could have a negative effect on your appetite.

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