Image source: Whoop

The downside of late night meals: WHOOP recovery data analysis

Findings from WHOOP data have quantified the effects of late-night meals on athletic recovery, highlighting the importance of meal timing in the body’s recuperation process.

The WHOOP 4.0’s journal functionality offers a unique and interactive way for users to track and analyze the impact of various lifestyle choices on their health metrics. This feature allows users to log and examine how different behaviors affect their recovery. Users are prompted to select various factors they wish to monitor, such as diet, caffeine intake, alcohol consumption, medication, supplements, and stress levels.

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Each morning, the WHOOP app provides a checklist of these lifestyle factors, and users simply mark off the ones that applied the previous day. This process only takes a few seconds. They can the view on a daily basis how each factor influences their sleep, recovery, and training capabilities. For instance, many users have noted the negative impact of alcohol on their recovery, as evidenced by forum discussions about the WHOOP journal feature.

However, there is also another, little talked about, factor which can negatively effect your sleep and recovery – late night eating.

Late night eating – not good for sleep and recovery

According to data generated from its userbase, Whoop has now quantified this effect.

It turns out late night meals, on average, result in a 10% reduction in a typical person’s recovery score. REM sleep is down by 3% while the overall sleep session is some 26 minutes shorter. Do this every day, and the effect will multiply over time.

A recent medical study that confirms this findings. It was published recently in the Journal Clinical Sleep Medicine. The research explores the relationship between meal timing and sleep patterns, as well as the severity of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Involving 296 patients with mild to severe OSA, it used polysomnography to analyze sleep parameters and a food frequency questionnaire to assess dietary patterns. The study found that dinner timing affected sleep latency, apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), and sleep quality, with late meals leading to worse sleep patterns, quality, and increased OSA severity compared to early meals. This was evidenced by greater sleep latency, wake after sleep onset, stage N1 sleep, and AHI, as well as a higher risk of poor sleep quality and daytime sleepiness among late eaters.

Of course, this is not a unique study. In fact it is one of many that confirm these types of findings. In fact, most of us know that late night eating is not good – it is not rocket science! What is new is that Whoop has quantified the effect of late night eating. And anyone can use the wearable to calculate their personalised effect.

How to avoid this issue and improve your recovery

It is not too difficult to rectify this problem. The obvious thing to do is to avoid eating at least 2-3 hours before bed. This will allow your body adequate time to digest.

In addition to this you can:

  1. Smart snack choices: Opt for healthier, lighter snacks if you must eat late; foods that are less likely to disrupt your sleep or recovery process.
  2. Intermittent fasting: Implementing intermittent fasting can help regulate your eating schedule, reducing the likelihood of late-night meals and thus improving overall recovery. In fact, they say if you reduce your eating time to 6-8 hours per day, it can help with longevity.
  3. Reduce caffeine and alcohol: Minimize the consumption of caffeine and alcohol, especially in the evenings. That’s a no-brainer.
  4. Schedule meals: Establishing a regular meal schedule helps in avoiding impromptu late-night eating, thereby supporting better recovery and sleep patterns.

Check out our full hands-on review of Whoop. The device is unique in terms of what it offers. You will not find abother wearable that offers such distinctive analysis capabilities. It is particularly useful in aiding users in understanding their bodies and optimizing recovery.

Whoop is intended for continuous wear, comfortable enough for 24-hour use, and originally targeted athletes and sports professionals, though now it’s available to the general public. The device’s unique features include a non-silicone, woven fabric wristband designed to reduce skin irritation and a low-profile structure that conceals the main unit, making it suitable for activities where bulky watches are impractical. Additionally, WHOOP 4.0 offers multiple wearing options, including on the wrist or upper arm, with the latter potentially enhancing accuracy during exercises.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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