When it comes to weight loss, there are a fair share of myths and misconceptions out there.
One of the most common is that calories reset after midnight. So, does this mean that you can’t eat a single thing past midnight or you will ruin your goals?
Let’s take a closer look at this topic to find out!
Do Calories Reset After Midnight?
The answer is, no. Calories do not reset after midnight.
The notion that calories somehow ‘reset’ after midnight is a popular one, but it is not supported by any scientific evidence.
In fact, the body does not care what time it is when it comes to processing calories.
Whether you eat them at breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even 3AM; your body will use them in the same way.
The only thing that really matters is how many calories you eat over the course of a day (or week, or month).
So if you’re trying to lose weight, don’t focus on when you eat – focus on how much.
Midnight may be a convenient dividing line for some people, but when it comes to calories, it’s completely meaningless.
What are Calories Exactly?
First, let’s talk about what calories are.
A calorie is unit of energy that comes from the food and drinks we consume.
Our bodies use these calories for basic functions like breathing and keeping our hearts beating, but they also give us the energy to do more active things like walking, running, and lifting weights.
The number of calories we need depends on a few things, including our age, gender, activity level, and whether we’re trying to lose, maintain, or gain weight.
There have been many different perspectives on calories over the years, such as the large calorie, food calorie, and kilogram calorie.
When speaking of calories as they relate to food, we refer to them as kilocalories or in short, Kcals.
How Does the Body Use Calories?
The body uses calories for two main purposes: to support bodily functions and to fuel physical activity.
Each day, the body burns a certain number of calories just to sustain heart rate, breathing, and keep the digestive system working.
This is known as the body’s basal metabolic rate, or BMR.
Why the BMR is Important for Weight Loss
The BMR accounts for the majority of daily calorie burn, but it varies from person to person based on factors like age, weight, and gender. In addition to the BMR, physical activity also requires calories.
Everything from walking to fidgeting uses up energy, and more strenuous activities like running or lifting weights can burn hundreds of calories in a single session.
The BMR is important because it is absolutely necessary to know what your own calorie deficit range should be.
You need this number to calculate an accurate calorie deficit for yourself in order to lose weight. It will help guide you when trying to lose weight and also when keeping it off in the long run.
Before I started my journey to lose weight, I did not even know that a BMR existed.
I knew that our body was amazing and extremely intuitive, and even that it had its own internal clock, but I did NOT know it burned as many calories that it does just sustaining itself.
Thanks to the BMR, it is possible to lose weight without exercising, that is if exercising is not for you.
TDEE is Important too
The number of calories burned during physical activity depends on the intensity and duration of the activity, as well as the individual’s weight and muscle mass.
Therefore, someone who is bigger or more muscular will burn more calories than someone who is smaller or less active.
When you move around more, you will burn more calories, plain and simple. This is all dependent on activity levels and how much exercise you choose to do, if any.
Exercise is a great way to boost how many calories you burn.
Your TDEE or Total Daily Energy Expenditure, is the amount of calories you burn just by existing (BMR) PLUS physical activity.
However, if you are not someone who does much exercise, you do not need to focus as much on this as you do your BMR.
A Calorie Deficit is Essential for Weight Loss
A calorie deficit and weight loss go hand in hand, always.
I know this is true by the extensive research I have done for years to lose weight.
I also know this is true because IT WORKS and it worked for me.
When you hear someone say that they have had success on a keto diet, paleo diet, or whatever diet there is under the sun, I can promise you that they only saw results because they were in a calorie deficit.
To lose weight, people need to create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than they burn in order to allow the body to release stored fat cells.
If you need more help creating a calorie deficit, I will include a great post at the bottom of this article for you to get started.
No matter what calorie counter tool or Fitbit trackers you utilize, it is essential that you maintain a calorie deficit to see results.
Conversely, people looking to gain weight need to eat more calories than they burn.
By understanding how the body uses calories, people can better control their weight and their overall health.
Calories are very important, and it is good to know that our body utilizes them 24/7, not just sometimes.
So Tell me, When do Calories Reset?
So, if calories do not reset at midnight, then when do calories reset?
The answer is that they don’t really reset. The body will continue to store excess calories as glycogen and fat OR the opposite will occur if you are in a calorie deficit, and you will burn fat.
The body is an amazing machine that is constantly working to maintain a state of homeostasis.
One of the ways it does this is by regulating the number of calories we consume each day based off of what it needs for maintaining it’s function.
The average person needs to consume between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day to maintain their weight. However, you must remember this number can vary depending on things like age, gender, activity level, and metabolism.
This is another reason why the BMR we discussed earlier is so important.
Because, what happens when we eat more calories than our body needs? The extra calories are stored in the body as glycogen and then fat.
Glycogen is stored in the liver and muscles, and it can be used for energy when needed.
Fat, on the other hand, is stored all over the body and it serves as insulation and energy reserves.
Forget About Midnight
We discussed that calories do not reset, and that our body will utilize or burn calories over time. There is no calorie intake restart on the next day.
What will help you to better understand this process is to stop getting so hung up on daily calories and start focusing more long term.
Start Focusing on Calories Burned In A Week
Remember, when we calculate our calorie deficit, we are focusing on a daily deficit, in order to get to a long term goal.
This goal is to burn fat in an overall deficit of calories. It will help to think of the calories we burn over an entire week.
You will not burn one pound of fat in a single day, and you will not likely have a weight gain consisting of all FAT in one day.
While it is possible to gain weight in one day, it is not always fat, but could be due to water retention, hormone fluctuations, etc.
You are maintaining your deficit so that you will be able to burn fat over time. This is likely over the course of the week or even a month.
If you consume your calories after midnight, this is perfectly okay to do as your body does not know what time it is, and will process these calories according to the deficit you are sticking to.
It is still burning or storing calories no matter what time it is.
Burning Calories Overnight
The best way to think about this is to think about those who work night shift.
Their circadian rhythms and internal clocks are completely switched around by working when everyone else is sleeping.
If these individuals who work night shift were trying to lose weight, they would still be burning calories after midnight. They are night eaters and they have no choice but to eat at this time.
They do their fair share of night eating and can still see results.
We become so accustomed to thinking that the world practically stops when we go to sleep, but it doesn’t.
The same goes for our body.
Our body is still functioning, digesting food, and BURNING CALORIES after midnight.
You actually have the ability to burn a ton of calories after midnight. The time of day does not matter. You can enjoy that ice cream treat you love after midnight and do not feel guilty.
So, if you want to enjoy a nice midnight snack, feel free!
Calories Burned When Sleeping
Few people realize that even simply sleeping can help to boost metabolism and burn extra calories.
In fact, the average person burns around 50 calories per hour while sleeping.
This may not seem like much, but it can add up over time.
Additionally, sleep plays an important role in regulating hunger hormones, which can help to reduce cravings and promote a healthy appetite.
Therefore, getting a good night’s sleep may be one of the best things you can do for your weight-loss goals.
Your body may be sleeping, but it is definitely still working hard!
To sum things up, calories do not reset after midnight and your body will still utilize them throughout the night.
It is best to focus on a long-term calorie deficit in order to see results.
When you are not limiting your food intake based on the time of day, you will be happier during this journey and see more substantial results.
Your body will process calories according to the deficit you have set for yourself, not if it is 12:01 AM or not.
What is important, is the total calories consumed, not the time they are consumed. Don’t worry about the time of day, just focus on creating a calorie deficit over time and you will see results!
You can and you will reach your goals if you commit to it.
Remember to check out these other helpful articles below to help you meet your goals!