Can Eating Dinner Make You Gain Weight?

A lot of people think that eating dinner may make them gain weight, so they skip this meal. Discover if eating dinner really can make you gain weight here!
Can Eating Dinner Make You Gain Weight?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Eating dinner is a key part of your diet. Eating a lot or eating poorly at night may be directly related to fat production. It’s that time of day that you won’t be using energy and are barely burning calories.

This is why it’s recommended to eat the majority of your calories in the first half of the day.
You should know what foods to include and not to include in your dinners in order to have a balanced diet that will help you maintain your weight or, in the second case, even lose weight. Just like the saying goes: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper“.
Thus, controlling your caloric intake may be the secret to losing weight naturally and helping improve your quality of life and even your sleep. Let’s delve deeper into all of this:

Is it true that eating dinner can make you gain weight?

Absolutely not. What can make you gain weight is eating poorly at night. Unfortunately, it’s something that we do wrong almost every day because of the following reasons:

  • In the morning, you may have a balanced diet and even “eat light”. However, when you get home, you may relax by snacking on whatever you have in the refrigerator. Snacking or eating whatever you find first makes you sometimes choose high-calorie foods rich in fat.
  • Sometimes, due to your job or your responsibilities, you may eat a quick breakfast or none at all, eat something quick for lunch, and finally get home so hungry and want to “attack the fridge”. This is another bad habit that may catch up with you.
  • Eating very late. Sometimes you may get home late, start doing other things, and end up eating dinner at almost the same time as you go to sleep. The best option is to eat dinner two hours before going to sleep so that your body has completely finished digesting.

Foods that you shouldn’t eat at night

There are certain foods that you should try to avoid eating at this time. These foods not only may make you gain weight, but also make you sleep poorly. You should also avoid heavy, fried, and fatty foods, carbonated or caffeinated beverages, as well as the ones in the following list:


You’ve surely done this more than once because you think it’s something “light”. Although it all depends on what you put in it, you should keep in mind that eating a lot of bread for dinner isn’t recommended, especially if you’re sensitive to carbohydrates.

This is because they may end up accumulating in adipose tissue in the form of cholesterol.

Discover: 7 Secrets to a Light, Low-Calorie Dinner

Salads with lettuce

It may be surprising, but lettuce is a very indigestible food due to its high insoluble fiber contents. It may cause us to have gas and abdominal bloating at night. It’s very common for people to rely on salads at night, but it’s better to make tomato salads with some type of protein.

Garlic and onion

Never eat them raw at night. They tend to be indigestible at this time and your stomach will feel it.

Pasta, rice, and pizza

Don’t go overboard with them and try to eat them in small quantities. Carbohydrates from vegetables will always be better options than those from pasta and rice.

What foods should I eat for dinner?

Dinner is the last meal of the day and thus it can help you balance your daily nutritional requirements. Therefore, it’s always good to include a good serving of vegetables:

  • Grilled or sautéed vegetables, soup, and a gazpacho accompanied with a serving of salmon or turkey. Also, you can eat a low-fat yogurt and you should substitute bread with toast.

Read more here: 7 Satisfying Dinners That Help You Lose Weight

Examples of good dinner options

  • Sautéed mushrooms with a low-fat cheese omelet. A slice of melon or watermelon.
  • Tomato salad with mozzarella cheese and shrimp, a little bit of salmon, and toast.
  • Zucchini soup with hake, an apple, and a yogurt with honey.

What may happen if I stop eating dinner?

Skipping meals isn’t effective. Sometimes it may cause more anxiety and make you eat more the next meal. Not eating dinner means you may lower your blood sugar levels and improve your risk of suffering from hypoglycemia.

What’s the best type of dessert to have after dinner?

Fresh or preserved fruit (the latter being more digestible) and low-fat yogurt are good dessert options.

About what time should I eat dinner?

The recommended time is 2 hours before bed.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Medline Plus. Trastornos del metabolismo de los carbohidratos.
  • Clínica Mayo. Nutrition and healthy eating.                                                                
  • Universidad de Georgia. Facultad de Ciencias de la Familia y del Consumidor. Reduciendo la grasa y el colesterol.
  • Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Oct;19(10):2006-14. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.48. Epub 2011 Apr 7.
    Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner.
  • Fundación Española de la Nutrición. Lechuga.
  • The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 105, Issue 6, June 2017, Pages 1351–1361,

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.