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Does It Matter What Time Of The Day That You Eat?

<p>Does It Matter What Time Of The Day That You Eat?</p>
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 5 min read

If you're concerned about the time of the day that you eat, it might make sense because it can definitely make a difference. Eating an unhealthy snack right before bed as you probably already know is a really bad idea, because your metabolism is starting to wind down and you won't be able to burn off any excess calories. Although it's a bad idea to eat unhealthy snacks at any time, it's particularly bad right before bed, and the same goes for some other foods that might be okay to eat earlier in the day, particularly any snack that is high in carbohydrates.

Eating in the morning makes a difference

If you aren't a breakfast eater you should definitely consider getting into the habit, because eating breakfast is definitely a good idea for weight loss. The simple act of eating breakfast can help you lose weight as several studies have found, because eating breakfast helps you control your hunger during the day and helps you eat a lower amount of food in total. Your body needs energy in the morning and as soon as you feel hungry you should eat a healthy and balanced meal with healthy fat, carbs from fruits and vegetables and protein. It isn't always easy to eat breakfast but it's always a good idea if you're trying to lose weight and it can make a significant difference in how quickly you lose weight.

Eat unhealthy snacks earlier in the day if you do eat them

If you're going to eat anything unhealthy it's much better to eat it earlier in the day, although you should avoid eating it at all of course if possible. But eating a high carb snack during your breakfast is a lot better than eating a bagel before bed; at least you'll have a chance to burn off some of the calories with your daily physical activity. If you're in the habit of eating high carb snacks before bed, do your best to stop this bad habit and it will definitely help you with your weight loss efforts. If you get into the habit of eating more in the morning your cravings for food before bed might start to slow down as well.

Try to eat protein  during breakfast and lunch

When you start the day with a protein rich breakfast as well as a lunch your blood sugar will be more stable and you'll be less likely to want to snack. You also won't be as hungry when dinner rolls around. You should also try to schedule your breakfast and lunch to both be earlier in the day rather than later if possible. Do your best to include protein in your meals because a high carb breakfast will just leave you feeling hungrier during lunch and isn't ideal, even though you're eating it earlier and have a chance to burn off some of the calories. Good options for breakfast include eggs, turkey sausage, or chicken or low fat meats, as well as whey protein and Greek yogurt.

Avoid eating within 3 hours of bedtime

In general, you don't want to eat within 3 hours of bedtime because that's the minimum amount of time that your body needs to digest your last meal. Time your bedtime right around 3 hours after your last meal and you hopefully won't be feeling the urge to eat something right before bed. If you've been eating within 3 hours before bed you might need to reschedule some of your other meals to be earlier in the day. If you do eat anything right before bed, make sure there aren't any carbohydrates in it, a piece of chicken breast or Greek yogurt with stevia, can hold you over but won't spike your insulin levels.

Eating too late can affect your sleep

The other thing to remember that eating too late can definitely affect your sleep schedule. If you're eating within 3 hours of your bedtime you're more likely to suffer from insomnia and other sleep disturbances. Eating a snack gives you a boost of energy that can make it a lot more difficult to sleep. Then by staying up you might be further tempted to eat more, and it can quickly become a vicious cycle. So try to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep at minimum each night and it can further help you lose weight, and if your meal times are affecting your sleep it's a good idea to make some changes.

Be sure to eat something after a workout

It's crucial that you also time your workouts so that they aren't too late in the evening, because you definitely need to eat something after a strenuous workout. Your body starts the process of recovering as soon as your workout has ended and most nutritionists recommend that you eat something with 30-45 minutes after exercising. If you skip this meal it can have consequences on your workout recovery and metabolism. Also be sure that you are including some protein in this meal, as well as carbohydrates from healthy sources, such as a whey protein smoothie with fruit. Try to exercise earlier in the morning if at all possible, or right after work so that you have time to have a snack and eat dinner with a bit of time before bed.

Be careful with your dinner timing

It's easy to make a mistake with your dinner timing by eating too late which can cause sleep disturbances as mentioned above, but it mainly doesn't give you a chance to burn off the calories. Try to move your dinner to be earlier in the evening and don't wait too long. If you miss the right timing it's better to just have a smaller low carb dinner before bed then a larger breakfast instead of trying to cram a big dinner in right before you go to bed. It might not seem like it will make a difference but changing the timing of your meals like this can have a weight loss effect that will add up over time, and in general it can prevent a lot of weight gain that is associated with eating right before bed.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.