Having an Early Dinner Could Help You Lose Weight and Prevent Diabetes

Having dinner early and in accordance with your biological clock can have a positive influence on the prevention of metabolic diseases such as diabetes. We'll tell you more in this article.
Having an Early Dinner Could Help You Lose Weight and Prevent Diabetes

Last update: 02 October, 2020

Have you ever heard that having an early dinner early could help prevent diabetes and lose weight? Although some people think that dinner is the main enemy to losing those extra pounds, the truth is that quite often the problem isn’t what you eat, but the amount you eat and the time you eat it.

Within the framework of a healthy diet, nutritionists recommend having four main meals each day. They also suggest that it’s a good idea to have an early dinner, or, at least, not to go to bed immediately after eating.

Eating according to your biological clock

A clock on a plate.

Eating habits and the level of physical activity are directly related to weight and the development or prevention of metabolic diseases. However, in addition to dietary patterns, what do our mealtimes have to do with them, and what does science say about them?

For a long time, scientists have known that the human body works according to a biological clock that regulates sleep-wake cycles based on the hours of the day. In fact, experts have determined that there isn’t just one, but rather many of them in different organs.

Based on this discovery, experts recognized that our metabolism follows a rhythm. This means that the enzymatic and digestive systems are ready to receive food at certain times of the day. So, ideally, eating and sleeping patterns should be based on this rhythm.

This is why experts believe that having an early dinner could help prevent diabetes and maintain an optimal weight, as well as prevent obesity.

Having an early dinner may help prevent diabetes and obesity

A woman preparing dinner.
Eating dinner early could help prevent the development of health problems, such as diabetes and obesity, as well as prevent weight gain.

Some studies suggest that people who eat dinner immediately before going to bed are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, such as the illnesses mentioned in the previous section.

In some research published in the Nutrients Magazine, the effects produced by a diet of three main meals and a snack were compared in two groups of young adults. These dishes were administered during the day in the first group, and at night in the second one. It was found that, despite having eaten identically, those who ate exclusively at night developed indicators of insulin resistance, i.e. an increased risk of developing diabetes.

Studies carried out with a group of students also yielded similar results. On the one hand, half of the participants were exposed to a daytime lifestyle, which included eating at daytime hours and eating dinner as early as possible. On the other hand, there was a similar group, but who ate their meals into the night.

Those in the first group showed glucose levels within normal parameters. In addition to that, their leptin and insulin hormones were also normal; these are responsible for lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. These young adults were able to burn fat better and were at less risk of suffering from diabetes.

So, this is what nutrition professionals refer to when they advise us to have an early dinner. Whenever possible, we should eat dinner at least two hours before going to bed.

In addition to an early dinner, you should always eat breakfast

It’s not that our body isn’t capable of digesting nutrients at night, but is during the day. It’s simply a fact of life that our biological clock works in a certain way. Included in this way of life is eating at regular times and not skipping meals.

On the same topic, in the article “Food at night as obesity inducing factor“, researchers discovered that after the first meal rats had restarted their daily rhythms. It then kept them in tune with the information their biological clock was sending them throughout the day.

On the contrary, those that didn’t eat breakfast had a delay in their metabolic cycles concerning the other group. In addition to this, they lost internal synchrony, and so their body’s signs at the beginning of the night were also altered. There were alterations in the absorption of lipids and a greater predisposition to the accumulation of fatty tissue.

Yes, an early dinner could help prevent diabetes

A family having an early dinner.
Experts recommend that we have dinner at least two hours before going to bed. It’s not a good idea at all to have a late dinner.

To maintain optimal weight as much as possible, you need to respect how your body works and to maintain regular schedules in all your mealtimes. In the case of dinner, if you have it at least two hours before you go to bed, then that’s time enough for your body to digest it.

Likewise, you should give priority to healthier food and consider your individual needs. To make sure you’re doing things right, you should consult a nutritionist.

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  • Buijsb, R. M., Bautista, E. N. E., Ángeles-Castellanos, M., & Escobar, C. (2020). La comida por la noche como factor inductor de obesidad. Revista mexicana de trastornos alimentarios7(1), 78-83.
  • Lopez-Minguez, J., Gómez-Abellán, P., & Garaulet, M. (2019). Timing of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Effects on obesity and metabolic risk. Nutrients11(11), 2624.
  • Jain Gupta, N., & Khare, A. (2020). Disruption in daily eating-fasting and activity-rest cycles in Indian adolescents attending school. Plos one15(1), e0227002.