What’s the best time of day to eat dinner?

Virgin Radio

17 Feb 2022, 08:21

Credit: Getty

Credit: Getty

Have you already polished off your dinner before The Chase has finished? Or are you still preparing your evening meal when the rest of us have gone to bed?

Experts have given their thoughts on when the best time is to eat your last meal of the day.

Dietician Tracy Lockwood Beckerman told Huffington Post: “Any time between 6 and 8pm is an ‘ideal’ dinnertime.”

She added: “That’s because it gives the average person enough time to digest before hitting the hay around 10 or 11pm.”

However, your perfect dinner time depends on what time you go to bed. If you’re all tucked up by 9pm, you’re going to want to eat earlier than if you stay up well beyond midnight. If you eat early and stay up late, the chances are you are going to be raiding the fridge later in the evening when your stomach starts to rumble.

“Night owls should eat dinner later than early birds to reduce the chance of mindless snacking, empty calories and unnecessary munching late at night,” Beckerman told Huffingtonpost.

So, while you want to find a time to eat your evening meal that means you aren’t snacking later in the night, it’s also important that you aren’t too full when you hit the sack. It’s a fine balancing act, but if you go to bed with a full stomach, it could negatively affect your sleep.

Eating too soon before bed can cause problems, such as reflux to indigestion, stomach pain, and insomnia. 

Equally, going to bed hungry can also lead to issues, according to sleeperholic.com, such as lower energy levels the next day.

As a general rule of thumb, nutritionists say that eating about three hours before you go to bed is about right.

The importance of when you eat your dinner means that you need to think about your other meals of the day as well. If you have a late lunch, chances are you will also have a late dinner, so you need to plan ahead. 

And, the good news is that dietician Tracy Lockwood Beckerman has said that, if you eat lunch earlyish, a mid-afternoon snack isn’t the end of the world. “This in-between snack will also prevent you from going into dinner famished, so you are less likely to unexpectedly overeat,” she told Huffington Post, explaining that it means you’ll be making a dinner decision “with a fed and satisfied brain rather than a hangry, impulsive or fatigued brain.”