Everyone is busy with their day to day lives and don’t have the time to pay attention to their health. There are many small-small changes you can make to your daily routine to ensure better health. One such habit is having an early dinner. Having irregular timing of having your food can result in many severe health conditions, especially for those people who consume their dinner very late at night. By changing your dinner time, you can make many magical changes to your health. There are many advantages to changing your dinner time to having it early. Here are some of the benefits of having an early dinner.
6 Benefits of Having an Early Dinner
Better Quality Of Sleep
If you have an early dinner, you will notice that your sleep quality will be much better.(1) This is because there is a good gap of almost 2 to 2.5 hours between your last meal and your bedtime.(2) This ensures that the digestive system is not stressed while you sleep as the primary digestion process would have already taken place by then. This also gives your digestive system a much-needed rest. The practice of having your dinner early also reduces the practice of oversleeping.(3) Since all the systems of the body work less while you sleep, you get the required sleep and are appropriately rested. Thus your body needs lesser time to recuperate and is able to work more efficiently.(4)
According to a recent study published in June 2020 in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, eating your dinner late can lead to weight gain and high levels of blood sugar, regardless of what is the actual meal you are having.(5) The research was carried out with a focus on trying to understand whether eating later in the night causes changes in the body’s metabolism that can promote obesity.
The study found that blood sugar levels were higher, and the amount of fat the participants burned was lower when they had a late dinner. The findings showed that people who are late eaters have peak blood sugar levels that are nearly 20 percent higher and 10% lower fat burning capacity as compared to people who ate dinner earlier.
Even though it is not apparent at first, eating an early dinner actually is an automatic practice of intermittent fasting. During the time period between having your dinner and going to bed, the body is able to fulfill its energy demands from the stored body fat. This triggers the body’s metabolism, leading to better weight management and successful weight loss.
Having an early dinner is also considered to be beneficial for people with diabetes because intermittent fasting has a lot of benefits for people with diabetes, including better cellular repair and regeneration, and an enhanced immune system.(6)
Reduces the Risk of Breast and Prostate Cancer
An early dinner can lower the risk of developing breast and prostate cancer. A study found that eating dinner before 9 p.m. or keeping a gap of at least two hours between your bedtime and dinner time can help reduce the risk of developing prostate and breast cancer by nearly 20 percent.(7)
The study carried out by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) looked at prostate and breast cancer because these two cancers are mostly associated with night-shift workers and disruption of the circadian rhythms. The study also found that having a late dinner can lead to weight gain, and being overweight or obese is a known risk factor for many types of cancer, especially breast and prostate cancers.
Relief from Constipation
Eating an early dinner is recommended for people suffering from constipation. Since there is a gap between eating and going to bed, your digestive system gets the chance to rest. An adequately rested digestive system helps you develop a more robust and healthier excretory system. People having excessive flatulence can also find relief by having an early dinner.(8)
When you eat dinner late, the food does not get digested properly before you lie down. Lying down can cause many other stomach-related issues such as acid reflux, bloating, gas, and/or abdominal pain. All these problems are usually a sign of indigestion, caused by a lack of a gap between your dinner and bedtime. The more gap there is between your dinner and sleep, the better your digestive system is able to function.
Good for the Heart
Research carried out by the European Society of Cardiology found that people who ate late dinner have an increased risk of heart problems, and also have a worse outcome following a heart attack. The study was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. It is one of the first of its type to evaluate how unhealthy eating behaviors can increase the risk of death, angina, or another heart attack within 30 days of experiencing the first heart attack.(9)
In January 2020, the American Heart Association also released new findings that showed how eating late is bad for the heart. The association recommended that it is better to have a higher calorie intake earlier in the day to reduce the risk of heart disease.(10)
Lowers the Risk of Diabetes
A study published in Experimental Physiology has pointed out that having your dinner late increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease.(11)
This is due to the body’s 24-hour cycle. When you persistently have your dinner late, you start to develop insulin resistance as the cells of the body do stop responding to insulin in the usual manner. This increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Having an early dinner can significantly lower this risk as when you eat 2 to 3 hours before sleep, the body is able to utilize the insulin properly. It is able to convert the food to glucose. This helps maintain the proper levels of insulin in the body, thus decreasing the risk of diabetes.
While there are many health benefits of having an early dinner, but it might not be a practical solution for many people due to work-related issues. However, it is still best to try and avoid having too much of carbohydrates after sunset. This can also offer you many health benefits.
Excessive consumption of carbs in the night can cause many problems such as early aging, wrinkles, weight gain, and others. If you have your dinner late, then try to include better alternatives to carbs, such as seasonal vegetables and fruits, lentils, soups, buttermilk, and whole grains. Having an early dinner might take some getting used to, but the practice is well worth the many health benefits it offers.
- Zerón-Rugerio, M.F., Longo-Silva, G., Hernáez, Á., Ortega-Regules, A.E., Cambras, T. and Izquierdo-Pulido, M., 2020. The Elapsed Time between Dinner and the Midpoint of Sleep Is Associated with Adiposity in Young Women. Nutrients, 12(2), p.410.
- Yoncheva, Y.N., Castellanos, F.X., Pizinger, T., Kovtun, K. and St-Onge, M.P., 2016. Sleep and meal-time misalignment alters functional connectivity: a pilot resting-state study. International Journal of Obesity, 40(11), pp.1813-1816.
- St-Onge, M.P., Mikic, A. and Pietrolungo, C.E., 2016. Effects of diet on sleep quality. Advances in Nutrition, 7(5), pp.938-949.
- Falkenberg, E., Aisbett, B., Lastella, M., Roberts, S. and Condo, D., 2020. Nutrient intake, meal timing and sleep in elite male Australian football players. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.
- Gu, C., Brereton, N., Schweitzer, A., Cotter, M., Duan, D., Børsheim, E., Wolfe, R.R., Pham, L.V., Polotsky, V.Y. and Jun, J.C., 2020.
- Metabolic Effects of Late Dinner in Healthy Volunteers–A Randomized Crossover Clinical Trial. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Sandhu, S.K. and Tang, T.S., 2017. When’s dinner? Does timing of dinner affect the cardiometabolic risk profiles of South‐Asian Canadians at risk for diabetes. Diabetic Medicine, 34(4), pp.539-542.
- Kogevinas, M., Espinosa, A., Castelló, A., Gómez‐Acebo, I., Guevara, M., Martin, V., Amiano, P., Alguacil, J., Peiro, R., Moreno, V. and Costas, L., 2018. Effect of mistimed eating patterns on breast and prostate cancer risk (MCC‐Spain Study). International journal of cancer, 143(10), pp.2380-2389.
- The Telegraph. 2020. Why You Shouldn’t Eat Late At Night, According To Science. [online] Available at: <https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/shouldnt-eat-late-night-according-science/> [Accessed 23 September 2020].
- Thehealthsite.com. 2020. How Top Sports Leagues Promote Unhealthy Eating Behaviour | Thehealthsite.Com. [online] Available at: <https://www.thehealthsite.com/news/how-top-sports-leagues-promote-unhealthy-eating-behaviour-ag0318-560571/> [Accessed 23 September 2020].
- American Heart Association. 2020. Meal Planning, Timing, May Impact Heart Health. [online] Available at: <https://newsroom.heart.org/news/meal-planning-timing-may-impact-heart-health> [Accessed 23 September 2020].
- Lopez-Minguez, J., Saxena, R., Bandín, C., Scheer, F.A. and Garaulet, M., 2018. Late dinner impairs glucose tolerance in MTNR1B risk allele carriers: A randomized, cross-over study. Clinical Nutrition, 37(4), pp.1133-1140.