Sometimes when I talk with people who struggle with their weight, they’ll tell me that the reason they can’t lose weight is because they eat too much at night – “I eat,” they’ll say, “and then I just sit around and I don’t burn it off – that’s my problem”. While intuitively this might make sense, it doesn’t really work this way. Taking in too many calories – at any time of the day – is going to lead to weight gain.
The body just doesn’t micromanage calories that carefully. And here’s why: we evolved under conditions of food scarcity – in order to survive, we had to be able to store extra calories if we overate – whenever that might be – and then be able to call them up when we needed them. Our ancestors foraged for food all day long, and they needed to store (or use) all the calories they could get – whether they were eaten at dawn or around the fire at night.