eating late

Is Eating Dinner Late Bad?

Author: Anne Jonson

Diet & Nutrition Expert

You do not eat anything after 6pm because you fear a late dinner will land right on your hips? We clarify whether this is really true and what time is best for your dinner.

It has not been scientifically proven whether weight gain or loss is influenced by late dinner. The reason for thinking that eating late could make you gain weight has to do with your insulin secretion. Whenever you eat something, the blood sugar levels in your body rise and insulin is released. This means that if you eat your supper just before bed, your blood sugar level will rise again. As a result, insulin is also released in your body, which can promote fat build-up during sleep. So far, however, this assumption could not be clearly proven by studies.

But maybe you know that you sleep worse on a full stomach. Because if you eat something just before going to bed, your stomach will start working again. Then, while you are trying to sleep, your stomach will digest your late dinner, making it harder to rest. If so, you should simply find out for yourself when is the best time to have dinner. To be on the safe side, eat something for the last time about two hours before bed. This gives your stomach enough time to digest your dinner and you can relax more easily.

Why you can gain weight from a late dinner

The number of calories in carbohydrates, fats and proteins always stay the same. This means that just because you eat an ice cream in the evening, for example, does not double the number of calories you consume with it. Weight gain is always related to an excess of calories. In other words, if you eat more calories a day than you use, you gain body weight. The same also applies the other way around: If you eat fewer calories than you consume per day, your body weight is reduced.

A late dinner can subconsciously cause you to consume more calories a day and thus create a calorie surplus. To find out, you can spend a whole day watching yourself. Do you come home after work, a little hungry, but it’s still too early for dinner? Then you may start to snack around subconsciously. In this case, you should just pull your dinner forward a few hours.

We also like to have a little something or two on the couch in the evening. Especially the snacks in front of the TV quickly lead to a calorie surplus. Because how often has it happened to you that you actually only wanted to eat a small piece of chocolate and in the end you finished off the whole bar?

Skip dinner

Are you considering leaving out dinner completely? That’s okay as long as you don’t go to bed hungry. For example, if you had a late lunch and are still full in the evening, then you can go to bed without dinner. Then treat yourself to an extra large breakfast the next morning. Under no circumstances should you skip dinner and then starve. If you want to lose weight, make sure that you consume between 300 and a maximum of 500 fewer calories per day.

Summary: Eating Late

  • Late dinner doesn’t necessarily lead to weight gain.
  • Pay attention to your calorie intake: If you have a calorie surplus, i.e. if you consume more calories than you consume, you gain weight. If you eat fewer calories, you lose weight.
  • Late dinner may make you sleep worse. Because if the stomach still has to digest a lot of food at night, you may find it harder to rest.
  • If you need to have dinner late, prepare yourself a light, high-protein meal like this. This will fill you up, but your food won’t be heavy on your stomach.
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