Whats the best time to eat dinner? If you’re asking this question, then you’re probably trying to work out the best time to have your evening meal.
If you’re looking to find out the best time for you to eat your meals, then you’ve landed on the right page.
The timings of meals has become more of a topic of discussion in recent years.
Lots of people choose to follow intermittent fasting routines for the perceived benefits they can bring.
There is also some research to suggest that eating too close to when you go to bed probably isn’t the best idea.
In this article, we’re going to take a close look at all of the important things you need to know about timing your evening meal by rounding up some scientific research and expert commentary.
We’re also going to bring you some expert commentary from some Nutritional Therapists on the issue.
We’re going to break this article up into the following sections:
• What’s the best time to eat Dinner?
• Food and Sleep
• Expert Comment from a Nutritional Therapist
• Anything Else to Consider?
• Wrapping Things Up – Final Thoughts
So, with the introductions out of the way, it’s time to start taking a closer look at what the best time to eat dinner may be for you.
What’s the best time to eat Dinner?
In this article, we’re going to refer to ‘Dinner’ as your last meal of the day before you go to sleep.
There is no ‘best time’ to eat Dinner, because it all depends on your own personal situation and nighttime routine.
There are plenty of things that can affect what time you have your last meal of the day, ranging from things such as work commitments to having to time your meals with other family members.
If you work late, you may not have a great deal of choice about when the best time to have your final meal of the day is.
Generally speaking, it is accepted that it is probably better for your health not to eat too close to bedtime. The theory behind this is that if you eat just before going to bed, your body is going to be focusing its energy on digesting food rather than the other restorative benefits of sleep.
There are some studies which back up this theory.
For example, a study published in July 2018 suggested that people who eat dinner before 9pm – or at least two hours before going to sleep – could have a 20% lower risk of breast and prostate cancer than those who eat after 10pm. or go to bed shortly after eating dinner.
Of course, there are numerous other factors that need to be taken into account, so the study’s findings should be taken with a pinch of salt, but the underlying results are interesting nonetheless.
The study was first published in the International Journal of Cancer in July 2018.
So, there is some research that suggests that an earlier dinner time may be beneficial to our health.
Having your last meal of the day at least two hours before you go to bed could be a good move.
Food and Sleep
You probably already know this, but sleep is a crucial part of any healthy human lifestyle.
It’s an important time for your body to restore and regenerate things that are depleted during the day.
From personal experience, I have found that I always tend to sleep better when I haven’t had a big meal just before going to bed.
There are thought to be several health advantages to eating an earlier dinner, including the one mentioned above.
However, are there certain foods that could actually improve your sleep?
According to Nutritional Therapist Kerry Torrens, choosing protein foods that are rich in an amino acid called Tryptophan can help to boost the sleep-inducing hormone Melatonin. Meats such as chicken and turkey, milk and dairy, nuts and seeds are all good options containing Tryptophan.
Combining these protein sources with rice, pasta or potatoes can also help the body get the most benefits from the Tryptophan.
Torrens also suggests that you eat your last meal four hours before going to sleep and reduce your Caffeine intake. It’s a good idea to have your last Caffeine-containing drink no later than lunchtime.
So, the foods you choose to eat consistently could affect your sleep. It’s a good idea to select protein sources which are rich in Tryptophan, and combine these with carbohydrate sources such as rice, pasta or potatoes.
Expert Comment from a Nutritional Therapist
We spoke to Nutritional Therapist Yasmin Muswell to get her advice on when to time your meals to help improve your sleep. Here’s what she had to say:
“This is a topic where there is a lot of new research coming out at the moment.
“There are loads of myths, like you shouldn’t eat after 6pm and you shouldn’t eat carbs at night.
“There is actually some newer research showing that our bodies’ ability to break down and digest carbohydrates is a bit lower in the evening. This is all to do with our body clock and circadian rhythm.
“Generally, I’d say that we shouldn’t really be eating within two hours of going to sleep. This just gives our body time to digest and absorb the food before we then go to sleep.
“Going to sleep closer to eating can also sometimes affect our ability to fall asleep.
“Particularly if it was a carb-heavy or sugar-heavy meal for dinner, that could maybe disrupt sleep, because if suddenly your blood sugar levels drop in the night, you may wake up.
“Eating a bit earlier just gives your body time to deal with that food, so when we’re sleeping, our bodies are able to focus on all of the other restorative functions that it needs to perform rather than focus on digesting that food.”
You can read our full interview with Yasmin Muswell here.
Anything Else to Consider?
As always, you should speak to a certified medical professional before making any major changes to your diet and lifestyle.
The first things you should do before even thinking about making any major changes is to ensure that you are sticking to a healthy, balanced diet, are exercising regularly and are getting plenty of rest.
Getting those things right are important for your overall health.
It’s also important that you don’t change your eating patterns before speaking to a certified medical professional if you have any underlying health or medical conditions.
Wrapping Things Up – Final Thoughts
So, that brings us to the end of our look at the best time to eat Dinner, according to the experts.
We’ve taken a look at some studies and advice from Nutritional Therapists which suggests that eating an earlier dinner is probably better for your health.
Generally speaking, it is probably a good idea to have your final meal of the day within two hours of going to sleep.
It is also good practice not to consume Caffeine after lunchtime to help improve the quality of your sleep.