Brushing Your Teeth Can Help You Lose Weight

David Liira

It’s the life-changing tool that no one is talking about.
Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

Losing weight by brushing your teeth may be the most ridiculous idea out there, but it truly does work. Yes, this doesn’t even have anything to do with the physical health effects of brushing. If you’re looking for a ‘quick fix’ to weight loss…it doesn’t exist. What you can do, is use your toothbrush as a transformative tool to counteract one of our worst habits: late-night eating. Stick with me here.

Research shows that if we eliminate late-night binging, we’re far better at keeping the pounds off. To win this arduous battle, we must design our habits and environment in a way that fosters sustainable success.

Utilizing strategies like eating before going to the grocery store, or putting healthy snacks in accessible places all go a long way to encourage weight loss. What is never posted on media platforms, however, is the magnificent effects of brushing your teeth early in the evening (7–8 pm).

Here’s why this simple trick works so well to eliminate weight gain.

The science behind late-night eating.

It's important to start off by saying that moderate late-night eating won't kill you. Nighttime consumption of small (150–200kcals) single nutrients or mixed-meals does not appear to be harmful and may be beneficial for muscle protein synthesis and cardiometabolic health in most populations. What we must realize, however, is that we often fail to stay within moderation due to the hormonal challenges of eating at night.

When we eat highly processed foods and refined sugars, our blood sugars spike. This is very much influenced by the time of day, as morning meals causing a far lower elevation in blood glucose than evening hours. Coincidentally, we have a far greater likelihood of eating junk food late at night, so this situation quickly becomes a double whammy. This is due to higher ghrelin levels (the hunger hormone), and lower leptin levels. In layman’s terms, we often crave unhealthy foods in the evenings, and our bodies are much worse at raising the alarm bells to stop us.

Furthermore, melatonin may be an influencer in excessive calorie consumption before bed. The pineal gland releases this sleep-inducing hormone that binds to receptors on the pancreas. It sends a message to stop secreting insulin in preparation for resting. This results in an abnormal spike of blood glucose after late-night eating which has implications for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes. It can also lead to an increased risk of heart disease, strokes, and more.

We often feel more anxious and dissociated from the body during late-night hours as sleepiness sets in. This can lead to ‘emotional eating’ that can quickly rack up calorie consumption. Additionally, we’re commonly looking at a screen in the evening which contributes to distracted eating. In the past decades, many studies have been conducted showing that individuals who engage in mindless eating consume larger amounts. Being distracted impairs an individual’s ability to accurately estimate the amount of food they consume and they are hindered from making deliberate decisions on proper nutritional practices.

In summary, the battle against late-night eating is a challenging one due to the many physiological and psychological variables that aren’t in our favor. Fortunately, there are many strategies we can employ to attenuate weight gain based on excessive food consumption in the evening.

How brushing your teeth can make all the difference.

This subtle habit does one crucial thing to aid in weight loss: it adds another barrier to unnecessary calorie consumption. You see, although body composition is dependent on multiple factors out of our control (genetics, postnatal influence, hormones, etc…), a huge part of weight management is behavioral. By winning the psychological battle against weight gain, the physical changes will follow (this effect will vary for each individual).

Here are a few common strategies that are recommended for limiting food consumption at night:

  • hide unhealthy foods in inaccessible places to lower snacking temptations
  • turn off electronics at least an hour before bed
  • prioritize proper sleep hygiene practices to avoid the hormonal effects of sleep deprivation
  • eat a well-rounded, substantial dinner to stave off late-night cravings
  • etc…

The reason we need to add brushing your teeth to the mix is that it involves a level of commitment and closure that other eating habits don’t. By scrubbing those pearly whites two to three hours before bed, you’re telling yourself that you’re truly done eating for the night. Does this immediately solve all of our problems? No. Will this work every time? Probably not. What it does accomplish, however, is a heightened sense of mindfulness around late-night food consumption. Food also tastes nasty afterward which certainly helps.

Every time you begin to wander into the pantry, you’ll ask yourself, “do I really want to brush my teeth again”? It’s a subtle reminder, but it’s enough to add one more barrier between you and caving into excess calories. By consistently implementing this habit, you’ll begin to lose some of those late-night cravings, and consequently, improve sleep quality and weight management.

If you’re skeptical about this bizarre strategy, please just give it a try. Yes, this is not realistic for everyone (yes, night shifts and crying babies are a thing), but the majority of us can accomplish it.

In closing,

Yes, you can use your toothbrush as a tool to combat excess weight gain. Who would’ve thought? By brushing your teeth earlier in the evening, you’re combatting late-night eating and the many health complications that it comes with.

The truth is, weight loss should never be solely about willpower or motivation. Proper weight management has to include habits that support healthy behaviors and environments. We must set ourselves up for success, or else we’re bound to fail our goals. By implementing subtle habits such as brushing your teeth after dinner, you’re committing to winning the small weight management battles that will make an enormous impact in the long term.

…Oh, and your dentist will thank you as well.

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Kinesiologist & Blogger. 15k+ followers. Dedicated to writing relevant, up-to-date pieces on health and the human condition. My job (and joy) is to save you time and money by delivering the tools you need to take control of your own wellbeing.


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