This might be why you get so hungry at night

Posted on July 25, 2021 by

Sometimes with nutrition we have to find out what the body needs by listening to and understanding the signs and signals it’s giving us as these might then be impacting our eating behaviour.

One common habit is when you’re home at the end of the day, finally put your feet up, slowing down and realising you’re a bit snacky.

This happens frequently in athletes, especially if they have an early training session or a long morning session and they either don’t have the time to eat as much as they need, or access to food the food they need might be limited. Therefore, they get to the night-time and either can’t get full so have a huge dinner or they’re looking for more food about an hour later. While their energy demands might mean they need a pre bed supper, eating the right amount of energy at the wrong times will impact body composition.

What we can learn from this is an imbalance in energy demand and energy intake when the body really needs it. Which means hunger is increased when resting and food is finally available at night and the body tries to over compensate for what it didn’t receive when it needed it during the day.

This might happen if for example you have a hectic early school run, an early meeting, or a big presentation in the morning. Perhaps you’re going to the gym or training before work, and rushing to get changed and into work. All times where food may not be a priority but when energy demands are high.

Often people fighting their raging appetite at night think they just need more willpower to not eat as much. Others try to find healthier alternatives to things they can eat at that time. However, managing your intake at that moment at night may actually have to be addressed at the start of the day. Planning ahead to have energy to burn or finding easy options to have on the go to match fuel needs when the body needs it is the first step in allowing a more even energy distribution over the day.

If you keep getting hungry, sugar cravings or peckish at night the best place to review first is what your eating is like at the start of the day.

Get off to a good start to the day with a more substantial or an increase in breakfast or mid-morning meal. This means ensuring it has adequate protein and fibre teamed with your wholegrain carbohydrate to allow slow release energy over your busy mornings.

Here are some examples of substantial breakfast and mid morning snacks, with some more examples here.


Receive High Performance at Home information from NSWIS

Sign up to the weekly eNewsletter from the NSW Institute of Sport, which includes the latest nutrition blog from the NSWIS Nutrition Team. Plus during the High Performance at Home campaign you’ll receive tips aimed at helping everyday Australians maintain their physical and mental wellbeing at home. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.

1 Comment

Vanessa Edwards

Thanks for all your much needed information about being at your best.
It is great to know there is support for this challenging sport.
You have helped me with alot of issues that I have come across getting back into training…especially now being in my mid 40’s when youthfulness is not much on my side anymore.
Loving all the challengers more than ever, some how more rewarding than ever.

Leave a Reply