This is a controversial area with many claims that late night eating can contribute to weight gain.
Recent research on mice suggests that late night eating might trigger weight gain. Even when given the same amount of calories overall, mice that ate around the clock put on more fat.
Fasting for at least 12 hours appears to switch on important fat burning mechanisms in the body.
In the study 400 mice were fed diets high in sugar or fat or both, or normal diets and over different time periods.
Overall, mice that were only able to feed for nine or 12 hours gained less weight than mice that could eat the same amount food but at any time they wanted in a 24-hour period.
When the restricted feed time mice were given days when they could eat when they liked, they still gained less weight, which hints that the diet can withstand some variations.
And when the overweight mice who had been eating when they liked were moved to limited eating times they lost 5% of their body weight even though they were eating the same number of calories as before.
This suggests that it may be important if we want to control our weight to eat only between say 8 am and 8 pm.
In the experiments, fasting at night had beneficial effects on blood sugar and cholesterol and reversed the effects of diabetes in the mice.
I advise clients who are trying to lose weight to try and eat earlier in the evening and certainly to avoid snacking at night. However, I understand that it can be difficult to sleep if you feel hungry so I would recommend that you eat a banana or a piece of toast before bed if you have hunger pains. However this should be anticipated as part of your daily calorie allowance rather than being additional extra calories.