People should make sure they have a filling evening meal to avoid late-night snacking which could cause weight gain, health experts have said.

Snacking too close to bedtime not only increases the risk of putting on weight, but it can also make you feel hungrier in the morning and cause the body to burn calories more slowly.

Dr Berry, a researcher in nutritional sciences at King’s College London, said 9pm is the ideal cut-off time for eating.

She said: “Our body has its own internal clock that regulates how we process food. Eating late in the evening can disrupt our body clock which in turn can disrupt how our bodies respond to food.”

According to a 2022 study, disrupting the body clock affects the rate at which the body burns calories.

Another US study in 2022 also found that you can wake up hungrier if you have indulged in late-night snacks the evening before. This is because it causes a drop in the hormone leptin, which alerts the body when it is full. This means the body slows the rate at which it burns calories.

Tucking into high sugar foods like chocolate, biscuits and toast too close to bedtime causes a quicker spike in blood sugar levels than if the same food had been eaten earlier in the day.  Extended periods of raised blood sugar levels can case long-term damage to the eyes, kidneys and nerves.

Dr Berry advised that if you are hungry in the evening, opt for things like nuts, full-fat Greek yoghurt or hummus and vegetables.

She said: “If you do find yourself hungry in the evenings after you have eaten your dinner, I’d suggest reaching for something that won’t have a big impact on your blood sugar and blood fat levels.

“If you don’t fancy swapping the crisps for almonds, I’d recommend checking that your dinners are nutritious and filling to stop those pre-bed hunger pangs.

“You can do this by adding flavourful vegetables cooked with herbs and spices, and healthy fats such as avocados, oily fish and extra virgin olive oil to your plate.”

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