Isn't a caloric deficit necessary to lose fat? Why does timing matter? Don't bodybuilders eat in the middle of the night?
That's a very good question and I'm glad you brought it up.
It may sound counter intuitive, but a recent study has shown that eating calories later in the day doesn't actually lead to additional weight gain. For the details of that study, check out these pages:
You work out late at night, therefore your activity level is MUCH higher at that time then the average person. I used to workout regularly any time between 9 and 11 p.m. and even when I was training for fat loss I would make sure to eat something afterwards.
It is crucial for optimal recovery from training sessions and, as the recent research shows, it's not going to lead to weight gain.
Just be sure to not eat TOO much. Even though the calories will be used, if you take in an excess of calories ANY time, that can lead to fat gain.
You are right about some bodybuilders eating in the middle of the night. They may take a protein shake if they wake up during the night (some even set alarm clocks). It is more a protein supplement strategy for muscle gain than fat loss though.
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