Growth Hormone Levels at Night
For years, we’ve been told that eating an early and light dinner is good for us. Let’s dive into the science of it to answer this question once and for all. Does our dinner really make a significant difference to burning fat and building muscle?
The short answer is, yes, but there’s a catch. We’ll see what that is as we get into the hormonal changes of relevance that take place as we sleep.
The main hormone of interest in this discussion is growth hormone. Among the functions of growth hormone is increasing our blood sugar when it gets too low in the night, and it does so partly by burning fat. Another important function is building muscle, so, as you can see, our goal should be to maximise the release of this hormone.
The graph above shows how levels of this hormone change through the night. The problem that arises with having a late or heavy dinner is that growth hormone does not start to get released in sufficient quantity until our blood sugar drops below a certain point. By eating an early and light dinner, we maximise the release of this hormone and so maximise our fat burning and muscle building through the night. In fact, this hormone is so good at this, that we often see athletes injecting themselves with it to improve their performance, although I don’t recommend doing that.
I mentioned at the beginning of the article that there was a catch to this whole early dinner theory. The fact is, that no matter how well you manage your dinner, it will not help you lose fat unless you are on a caloric deficit. This means that you burn more calories than you consume. No diet plan can help you lose weight unless you are on a caloric deficit, and not understanding this is the main reason that so many people never change, regardless of trying numerous different diets. So, yes, having an early and light dinner will help you optimise your hormones to get better results, but it only works if you also make sure that your total calories burned are greater than your total calories consumed.
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