Nighttime eating, particularly before bed, has received considerable attention. Limiting and/or avoiding food before nighttime sleep has been proposed as both a weight loss strategy and approach to improve health and body composition. Indeed, negative outcomes have been demonstrated in response to large mixed meals in populations that consume a majority of their daily food intake during the night. However, data is beginning to mount to suggest that negative outcomes may not be consistent when the food choice is small, nutrient-dense, low energy foods and/or single macronutrients rather than large mixed-meals. From this perspective, it appears that a bedtime supply of nutrients can promote positive physiological changes in healthy populations. In addition, when nighttime feeding is combined with exercise training, any adverse effects appear to be eliminated in obese populations. Lastly, in Type I diabetics and those with glycogen storage disease, eating before bed is essential for survival. Nevertheless, nighttime consumption of small (~150 kcals) single nutrients or mixed-meals does not appear to be harmful and may be beneficial for muscle protein synthesis and cardiometabolic health. Future research is warranted to elucidate potential applications of nighttime feeding alone and in combination with exercise in various populations of health and disease.
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