What is the best time for dinner?

Eating for optimal health is not just about what you eat but also when you eat. That’s why it’s worth considering if there’s an ideal time for dinner, especially if you’re trying to lose weight or have other health considerations.

Is there a perfect time for dinner?

Research, such as a small 2016 study, shows that many adults have irregular eating habits. More than half of the 156 people in the study ate for 15 hours or more during a typical day. Some people may stop eating at 4 p.m., while others may rely on snacking for much of the night. So when it comes to figuring out what time to eat dinner, the answer may depend on your personal health goals or health status.

for weight loss

One of the most popular ways to lose weight is to reduce the total number of calories you eat. In this context, meal timing can be important in achieving your goals. Some studies suggest that you should eat your last meal before your body begins to release melatonin and prepares for sleep.

Your brain begins to release melatonin at night, in response to the natural light and dark hours of the day. It is your circadian rhythm, which is closely related to your metabolism. A 2017 study showed that eating late in the evening, when your brain begins to prepare for sleep, is associated with increased body fat. This phenomenon is independent of factors such as the amount or type of food consumed or the level of activity.

Other studies agree, concluding that eating later can disrupt the body’s normal circadian rhythm. This, in turn, can increase the risk of being overweight and the health problems associated with it. This phenomenon is often observed in shift workers who have to eat at unconventional hours.
Additionally, research has shown that eating late in the evening is associated with an increase in total daily calories.

Fewer calories at dinner than at breakfast

In an older study from 2013, overweight and obese women followed a weight loss diet for three months. The study found that although everyone had the same total daily calories, the women who ate the most calories at breakfast lost 2.5 times more weight than those who ate the most at dinner.

However, if you feel hungry between dinner and bedtime, choosing healthy snacks can support your weight loss goals. To lose weight, it can be very useful to choose the time for dinner before sunset, so as not to disturb your circadian rhythm. But don’t forget that healthy snacks can take their place if you get hungry later.

for acid reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive condition in which stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation.

It is often caused by weak esophageal sphincter and can be exacerbated by stress, certain foods, the composition and timing of meals, and other factors that depend on the person. An old study from 2005 concluded that people with GERD should eat their last meal of the day at least three hours before bed. This gives your body time to fully digest your last meal, reducing the risk of acid reflux overnight. For example, if you have GERD and usually go to bed around 10 p.m., it’s a good idea to finish dinner by 7 p.m.

Whatever your health goals, there are a few things to consider when it comes to meal times.

In the end, weight management mostly comes down to the total amount of calories you’ve consumed. If you eat more calories than you need, you will end up gaining weight. In addition, several surveys and studies have shown that eating late at night is associated with a higher likelihood of choosing unhealthy foods.

Oftentimes greasy and sugary night snacks

Many late-night snacks are highly processed and contain large amounts of added sugar or fat, making them high in calories and low in nutrients. In addition, late-night snacking is often eaten in front of the TV or computer screen, which can lead to thoughtless eating. This is when you end up consuming more calories than you’d like, just because you’re distracted. Regularly eating less healthy foods at night can lead to unwanted weight gain and other health problems, such as disturbed sleep or indigestion.

If you’re concerned about these issues, you can practice setting when your last meal of the day ends, making sure you’ve met all of your calorie and nutrient needs by then.

Whether you want to lose weight or prevent acid reflux and other potential health issues, it’s best to eat around the time the sun goes down. This will ideally give your body a few hours to digest before bed.

Make dinner time good for you

For normal healthy people, it seems best to break the habit of regularly eating the largest meal of the day before lying down to sleep. In general, learning to practice mindfulness with food is the most useful strategy for determining the best time for dinner or any meal.

this means:

You know how to know you’re really hungry
Eat an appropriate portion
The ability to stop eating when comfortably full
These are always good tips to keep in mind when it comes to mealtimes.

Studies show that even if you sometimes have to eat late, the benefits of fueling your mind and body outweigh the potential negatives of skipping the last meal of the day. Keep in mind that choosing nutritious foods remains essential for optimal health, including managing the conditions listed above, as well as giving thought to meal timing.

Best time for dinner? according to your sleep time

The ideal time for dinner seems to fit into your circadian rhythm and give your body time to properly digest food before you lie down to sleep.
This usually means eating dinner at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. This can be especially useful for people who want to:

– Weight loss
Preventing over-consumption
Prevents acid reflux at night

However, if you can’t stick to a regular dinner schedule, it’s usually better to be sober and eat a nutritious late-night dinner than to skip the last meal of the day altogether.

sources

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26411343/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26411343/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28877894/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23512957/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6140167/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26626471/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28718396/

* Presse Santé strives to impart medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In no way can the information provided replace medical advice.

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