When should I eat? Understanding meal timing.

How many of you have believed or knew someone who followed the “no food past 7 PM” rule? Many believe that eating after 7 is a surefire way to sabotage your metabolism and weight loss goals. Is there any truth to this? Let’s take a look at the science behind dinner timing.

1. The timing between dinner and bedtime matters more.

You’ll want to avoid eating around 2 to 3 hours before bedtime for optimal sleep. Obviously, this will put the ideal dinner at different times depending on your sleep schedule. You may work better with an 8 PM dinner for night owls, while early risers will probably sit down at the table around 5 or 6 PM. The problem is that indigestion, heartburn, and other discomforts can arise when consuming a large meal immediately before going to bed. However, this does not establish a set-in-stone time to eat supper.

2. Your body does not know what time it is.

Digestion is digestion. You don’t hear people debating whether a 7 AM breakfast is more weight-loss friendly than a 9:30 AM breakfast. Whether you eat at sunset or later on into the evening, your body will ultimately digest your meals all the same. However, you’ll probably feel better if your body has had time to settle before getting some sleep.

3. Focus on the quality of your meal rather than the timing.

Your body will best respond to a high fiber, protein-rich meal supplemented with lots of leafy green vegetables consumed at 8:30 PM rather than a pizza and fries eaten at 6 PM. Nutrition is not a black and white set of rules but rather a practice of balance and sustainability. You can eat dinner at different times each night and still lose weight!

The bottom line is this: Dinner at midnight is better than no dinner at all. If you are hungry, eat! Don’t skip dinner because you got in too late from your child’s basketball game. Don’t pack dinner in if you’re going out for happy hour drinks with friends. Flexibility is a massive part of being able to sustain balanced eating. Don’t overcomplicate it; focus on protein, incorporate vegetables, and definitely allow yourself to eat past 7:00. 

Struggle with when you should be eating and what you should be eating? Let’s connect and see if you are a good fit for group nutrition! Complete my Nutrition Coaching Interest Form here.

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