The best time to eat dinner for weight loss is 2–3 hours before going to bed. Otherwise, you have 5 times increased risk of gaining weight!
In addition, dinner should be low in carbs if you want a lean body year round.
A dinner high in carbs right before bedtime can make you fat
The body has a different insulin sensitivity levels during the day. Insulin sensitivity is higher in the morning than the night. Insulin is key for glucose metabolism.
So, it’s better for weight loss to consume meals high in carbs at breakfast, at brunch, or even at lunch rather than dinner.
On the other hand, consuming carbs at dinner can make you fat and cause belly fat.[1,2]
Melatonin affects glucose metabolism. Increased melatonin concentrations worsen glucose tolerance and inhibit insulin secretion.
But, we have elevated melatonin levels in the body right before bedtime. That’s another key reason why dinner must be low in net carbs if you’re on a diet.
On the contrary, carbs at breakfast don’t make you gain weight. They’re easily stored as muscle glycogen, instead of belly fat. Also, a great time of the day to consume carbs is right after a workout. They enhance muscle recovery.
Melatonin concentrations increase approximately half an hour before bedtime. It is estimated that melatonin concentration is approximately three times higher at dinner as compared to the morning! Therefore, the best time to eat dinner is at least 2 hours before bed.
You should eat foods with melatonin at dinner, though. They help you sleep better at night. A good night’s sleep is important for weight loss and maintaining a lean body. Actually, melatonin supports weight loss!
Human Growth Hormone
Moreover, high insulin levels can directly or indirectly inhibit the natural production of the human growth hormone.
Normal levels of human growth hormone are crucial for a lean body. It protects fat-free body mass during dieting, as it’s involved in protein synthesis and stimulates the production of IGF-1 hormone, which is also a key anabolic hormone.
Increased muscle mass has associated with a higher basal metabolism, which burns belly fat.
Moreover, the human growth hormone helps obese people loss more total and belly fat.
The human body naturally releases significant amounts of human growth hormone at night. We start producing growth hormone around 11 p.m. In most cases, its production is high for only 4 hours. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, we should sleep before 11 p.m. to produce more growth hormone.[5,6]
Furthermore, we should avoid eating foods at dinner that increase insulin secretion. Such foods are refined products high in sugar, like white bread, toast, cereals, sweets, and soft drinks. A dinner containing these foods should be eaten at least 3 hours before bedtime!
Great low-calorie foods for dinner are popcorn, yogurt, and salads.
The best time of the day to eat dinner depends on your circadian rhythm
Actually, there isn’t a single best time to eat dinner. Everyone should eat dinner at least 2–3 hours before going to bed. The bedtime depends on the circadian rhythm, though!
The circadian rhythm is a 24-h cycle. It’s the body’s internal clock. We secrete hormones, such as melatonin, at different times of the day. Everyone has a different circadian rhythm!
That’s why some people sleep at 8 p.m., while others sleep at 11 p.m. Actually, biological night can vary significantly among people!
Eating during the two-hour period before sleep increases the risk of gaining weight about five times!