Do you eat at the best time to eat dinner? If your answer is that you eat dinner very late at night, then that might be a factor if you deal with weight issues. The best time might be closer to 2pm than 7pm!
According to the World Health Organization, obesity rates all around the world have almost tripled since 1975. As of 2016, 39% of adults were considered overweight, with 13% being obese. That’s 1.9 billion overweight individuals above the age of 18! The worst part? Obesity is more deadly than being underweight.
So why have our obesity rates skyrocketed? The answer might be in the number of meals we eat, and what time we eat them. Back in the 1970’s, people only ate three meals a day. Snacking was unheard of; you ate an early dinner and were fine for the rest of the night. In today’s world, some people eat as many as six meals daily.
The truth is that the human body doesn’t need to consume nearly as much as we think. It doesn’t need to eat as late at night as we feed it, either. Here is how a dietitian explains why 2pm is the best time to eat dinner.
10 Reasons Why 2pm Is The Best Time To Eat Dinner, According To A Dietitian
“Early to bed has changed, but early dinner is always preferred.” – Sanjukta Dash
1. It balances appetite levels
Research conducted by Courtney Peterson, Ph.D., at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center shows that restricting eating times helps keep the appetite at a good balance. In short:
- Eating between the times of 8am and 2pm are best, meaning that 2pm is the best time to eat dinner.
- The average American eats between the times of 8am and 8pm, meaning they do not eat for 12 hours daily. Instead, fasting for 18 hours and only eating within a 6-hour window can help balance one’s appetite.
- Eating from 8am to 2pm, once you get used to it, will actually stop you from feeling randomly peckish. It will also allow you to focus more on your day, have more positive thinking, and be more productive.
2. It’s good for the body’s internal clock
Everyone’s body has a specific internal clock that runs on specific times. Although some people are more likely to feel more energetic later in the day than earlier, there are some standard rules.
Having your last meal of the day at the best time to eat dinner can help keep your body’s internal clock in order, and this mission is more important than you might think. The entire body and a huge chunk of its systems run on this same internal clock. Our health depends on how well we follow it.
Ensuring that you’re running in line with that internal clock can improve your energy levels, mood, hunger, and even heart health. If all it takes is having an early dinner to help run on the right times, it’s definitely worth a shot, right?
3. The best time to eat dinner is when metabolism is its best
The body’s metabolism is at its most active in the morning. As the day progresses, it gets slower and slower before reaching a crawl at night. But even more compelling is the fact that eating times have such a large impact on metabolism.
The same aforementioned study by Dr. Courtney Peterson, funded by an Early Career Research Grant from The Obesity Society, proves this fact. Although only conducted on a limited group of people, it shows that early, time-restricted feeding can have positive effects on metabolism.
4. It’s better for sleep
Having meals later at night can result in digestion issues, so dining at the best time to eat dinner is important. While they might not feel major, these digestion problems can cause the sleep cycle to be negatively impacted. This can be so bad that it prevents you from getting REM sleep.
Eating too late might also cause the body to stay awake and on high alert due to the energy it has consumed. The body must also continue to work in order to digest and process the food. All of this will prevent you from getting that REM sleep that you need to function effectively.
When you don’t enter your deep sleep cycle, you’re not getting the rejuvenating rest that your body requires. This can affect your work by decreasing focus and efficiency. It can also affect your mood (by decreasing positive thinking), and your energy (simply because you’ll be very tired).
5. It aids weight loss and fat burn
Eating early and restricting yourself to eating only during certain times can drastically decrease your overall calorie intake.
- According to Dr. Rupali Dutta, a clinical nutritionist, eating early meals can boost digestion, which in turn boosts weight loss.
- When you stop eating after 2pm, your body undergoes an intermittent fasting state, whereby it enters a state known as ketosis.
- Ketosis works by burning the body’s fat stores for energy, thus helping you bust fat more quickly.
As a matter of fact, this is just the tip of the iceberg on the ways that eating early and early time-restricted feeding can help your weight loss efforts. Essentially, if you start moving your dinner times earlier, you’ll notice the pounds dropping off much more easily.
6. Early dinner sets you up for the next day
This sort of goes without saying, but it is worth mentioning that if you’re eating earlier and therefore getting better sleep, the next day is going to be much better for you. You’ll have more energy, feel more fresh, and, all-in-all, just feel better.
- If you’re not having your meal at the best time to eat dinner, you might actually be more likely to miss your breakfast the next morning.
- Since breakfast is responsible for giving you energy and kick-starting your metabolism, that isn’t a meal you want to miss out on.
- Eating dinner earlier will also help you wake up earlier in the morning.
- This will give you more time to make a nutritious breakfast, exercise, and do other tasks before your day really begins. Sounds like a win-win to us!
7. Reduced diabetes type 2 risk
There have been more cases than ever of type 2 diabetes in recent years. Between 1990 and 2010, cases of diabetes tripled, and each new year brings on even more cases than the previous one.
Eating dinner early and restricting food intake to before 2pm can have great positive effects on insulin resistance. It can also bring blood sugar levels down by up to 6%, and insulin levels down by up to 31%. So having dinner early can be great at lowering your chances of contracting this disease. If you feel you’re at risk, giving it a try might be a good idea.
8. Early dinner is good for the heart
According to Meher Rajput, a certified nutritionist, eating light and early can have huge benefits on overall heart health. Because of the bloating and water retention caused by eating later at night, there’s a higher chance of developing high blood pressure.
This is why those who suffer from cardiovascular and thyroid conditions are often told by doctors to eat their last meal earlier in the day. The increase in blood pressure caused by late dinners can have extremely detrimental effects on these individuals.
This also means that if you tend to eat late, you’re raising your blood pressure inadvertently. This puts you more at risk for eventually developing heart conditions.
9. Lowering cancer risk
As surprising as it is, eating an early dinner has actually been proven to lower one’s risk for prostate and breast cancers. This is likely because the sleep-wake cycle has been linked to cancer many times in the past. In fact, night-shift workers have been found to be at higher risk for cancer due to this fact.
As mentioned previously, eating late disrupts the body’s natural internal clock, thus negatively affecting the Circadian rhythm. If sticking to the best time to eat dinner can lower your chances of contracting these potentially fatal diseases, it seems like a good choice to make.
10. A longer lifespan
Early time-restricted feeding, otherwise known as intermittent fasting, is a bit of a hot topic. Although studies in humans are not entirely conclusive, preliminary and animal-based research suggests that this can expand one’s lifespan. In some tested animals, this increase could be up to 83%!
This shouldn’t be such a surprise. Restricting your dinner to early times also provides countless other benefits. It brings down inflammation, reduces oxidative stress, helps with cell repair, and improves brain function. So if you’re interested in living a longer life, eating dinner at 2pm might be the way to go.
Final Thoughts On Why 2pm Is The Best Time To Eat Dinner
There are plenty of reasons eating at 2pm might just be the best time to eat dinner. Let’s just say that the amount of food we’ve gotten used to eating today and the times we choose to eat them may not be the best options for our bodies.
Do these findings mean you should never eat dinner later than 2pm ever again? Not necessarily. But doesn’t it help to know that meal timing can have a huge effect on weight and overall health?
So the next time you’re planning your dinner, plan to have that final meal early. Then keep yourself away from snacks for the rest of the night. You might be surprised by the positive impact on your health!