How does eating late at night affect your sex drive? Before you reach for that late-night food, you’re going to want to read this report.
Last Updated: 04/13/2023
Reaching for late-night snacks may curb your cravings, but it can also dampen your sexual desire. That’s why in part three of our 90-Day Challenge, we’re addressing the effects of eating too late at night. If you’re doing intermittent fasting, which we covered in part one of the 90-Day Challenge, then no eating after dinner is a standard rule of that dietary plan.
If you’re looking for healthy late-night snacks, sadly there aren’t any. This is the time your body needs to break down food and start its repair system. If you are snacking at night or eating a late-night dinner, your body is busy breaking down food while you are sleeping rather than repairing itself.
The first question is: how late is too late to eat dinner? According to one study of 20 healthy volunteers, eating dinner at 10 p.m. rather than 6 p.m. is linked to higher blood sugar levels.1 This was true even if the same type of meal was eaten at the earlier time on a different day. In other words, the same meal led to higher blood sugar levels when it was eaten at 10 p.m. rather than 6 p.m.
In this study, eating dinner at 10 p.m. led to average blood sugar levels that were 18% higher compared to eating dinner at 6 p.m. The participants eating dinner later burned 10% less fat overnight compared to those eating the earlier dinner.
Whether you’re eating a late dinner or snacking after dinner, it’s going to mess with a lot of factors that impact your sex drive. Here are some of the ways in which regularly eating a late-night dinner or snacking late at night can throw off your libido and sexual arousal.
One factor known to impact sexual health is being overweight or obese, and research shows that eating too late at night causes people to pack on the pounds. One study found that obese people reported eating more meals later in the day compared to controls.2
Skipping breakfast and eating at night is also linked to obesity.3 Other research shows that people enrolled in a 20-week weight loss program who ate later in the day lost less weight than people who ate earlier.4
Scientists believe that eating late at night weakens the body’s ability to handle blood sugar and fat. As mentioned earlier in this article, during late-night eating, the body burns less fat and has higher blood sugar levels. This leads to weight gain and a sluggish sexual response.
In part two of the 90-Day Challenge, we discussed how eating lots of sugar or drinking sugary beverages like soft drinks and fruit juices can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels and by doing so messes up your sexual health. It’s the same with late-night eating, which also blocks your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels.5
These higher blood sugar levels increase your risk of a condition known as metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors for heart disease. Metabolic syndrome, like diabetes, increases your risk of sexual decline.6
Problems like acid reflux can occur when you lie down after a late meal. In a study of 817 patients with type 2 diabetes, participants who said they eat within two hours before bedtime at least three times per week had an increased risk of acid reflux.7 The same results have been found in people without diabetes.7 That doesn't exactly make for a good time in bed with your partner.
Sometimes, eating late at night, especially snacking, is more about cravings than hunger. Eating a healthy yet fulfilling dinner earlier in the evening should satisfy you enough to get rid of your cravings.
Stress can also lead to carb cravings and late-night snacking. Therefore, take steps to reduce your stress level by meditating, exercising, journaling, or participating in yoga.
For some people, working a later shift cuts into what would be a normal dinner time. If that’s the case, try eating an early dinner before going to work even if it’s at 3 p.m. Studies of intermittent fasting showed that people who ate their last meal of the day before 3 p.m. had better blood pressure and were able to better use the blood-sugar-lowering hormone insulin.8
Sometimes, especially for self-employed people, it’s a matter of just making the commitment to take a break from work to have an early dinner. You can always resume work once you’ve eaten. Scheduling early dinner meetings with clients is another strategy.
According to research, eating too late at night is linked to weight gain and poor blood sugar control. Obese people tend to eat more meals later in the day compared to non-obese controls, and studies have shown it’s harder to lose weight when you eat later in the day. The body burns less fat and blood sugar levels are thrown out of whack when you eat late at night.
Unfortunately, no. Eating before bed means your body is focusing on digesting food when it should be focused on repairing your body while you sleep.
All the health risks of eating late at night are linked to low sex drive. For example, gaining weight due to eating late is a definite libido killer.
The higher blood sugar levels that happen when you eat a late dinner are also tied to poor sexual function. High blood sugar clogs the blood vessels and interferes with blood flow.
Finally, eating too close to bedtime can cause acid reflux and heartburn, which doesn’t make for a fun time between the sheets.