The time of the day that we eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner plays a key role in weight loss. Eating most calories in breakfast and lunch, while having a small dinner 3-4 hours before night sleep is beneficial for losing weight!
Calories from dinner are stored as body fat
The human body acts differently during the day. It seems that insulin secretion is elevated in the morning compared to that in the evening. Furthermore, glucose metabolism and insulin resistance is better in the morning!
So, consuming food high in calories in dinner has greater insulin resistance than consuming the same food at breakfast. Therefore, reduced caloric intake at dinner seems to be good for losing body weight.[1,2]
Practically, eating food containing carbs at breakfast won’t make you gain weight. The body stores most carbs as glycogen in the muscle tissue. On the other hand, we store more carbs as body fat by eating late at night.
Eating during the two hours period before sleep increases the risk of weight gaining about five times!
Avoid eating dinner high in carbs, due to melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that’s key for the circadian rhythm. It’s our biological clock.
We have increased melatonin levels at night. Melatonin concentrations increase approximately half an hour before bedtime. It is estimated that melatonin concentration is approximately three times higher at dinner time compared to daytime!
Although melatonin helps us lose body weight, it seems to greatly affect the glucose metabolism and insulin secretion. So, eating a dinner high in carbs may be a bad idea. Increased melatonin concentration worsen glucose tolerance, and inhibits insulin secretion. Hence, dinner high in carbs may lead to increased insulin resistance and weight gain.
On the other hand, you should eat foods containing melatonin. They’ll help you sleep, and lose weight. Pistachios, bananas, and cherries are excellent options. Moreover, they contain reasonable amounts of carbs. Eating them at dinner won’t make you fat. For instance, having a banana for dinner can actually help you lose weight.
Above all, avoid having dinner within two hours before bedtime. It significantly decreases glucose tolerance.
Ideal dinner timing depends on circadian rhythm
But, there isn’t a standard ideal dinner time. Everyone is different, as we have different circadian rhythm! Circadian rhythm is a 24h cycle. It’s the body’s internal clock. We secrete hormones, such as melatonin, in different times of the day.
Therefore, eating dinner late at night doesn’t affect everyone in the same manner. In fact, genetics may play an important role in weight loss. The best time to have dinner, breakfast, and even lunch isn’t the same for everyone.
Biological night can vary significantly among people! For instance, there are people who have a high concentration of melatonin around 7 p.m. These are the morning people! They would probably have a pretty hard time to lose weight having dinner. Their last meal of the day should be around 6 p.m.
On the contrary, there are people whose melatonin levels raise around 1 a.m. These are the night-owl persons. These people can eat dinner at 10 p.m. without gaining weight.
Above all, we should have dinner at least 3 hours before the body starts secreting high amounts of melatonin. High melatonin levels may impair glucose and inhibit insulin secretion.
As a rule of thumb, we should consume most calories of the day during daytime.
Skipping dinner isn’t necessary. You still can lose weight eating late at night. But, you should avoid eating many calories, or foods rich in carbs at dinner. Popcorn and salads are excellent options for dinner. They’re low in calories, but high in dietary fiber. So, they can keep you full until going to bed.
Skip dinner to increase levels of Human Growth Hormone!
The human body naturally releases significant amounts of Human Growth Hormone. Especially at night.
We start producing growth hormone around 11 p.m. Its production is high for about 4 hours. Therefore, you should sleep before 11 p.m., if you want to build muscle mass, or lose more weight. Exercising can help you sleep early at night.
Human growth hormone is a key anabolic hormone. When we lose weight, we want to lose as much fat as possible. Unfortunately, we lose muscle mass as well. Luckily, human growth hormone protects lean mass while dieting for weight loss, as it’s crucial for protein synthesis.
Moreover, human growth hormone helps obese people loss more total and abdominal fat mass.
But, high insulin levels can directly or indirectly inhibit the natural production of the growth hormone. Therefore, we better avoid eating foods at dinner that increase insulin secretion. Especially, foods high in carbs and protein can spike insulin, affecting the secretion of the growth hormone! Therefore, we should have dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime!
Furthermore, growth hormone stimulates the production of IGF-1 hormone which is also a key anabolic hormone. It’s necessary for the protection of lean mass while being in a caloric deficit.
Having breakfast is crucial for weight loss!
Moreover, having breakfast, and lunch before 3 p.m. helps you lose more body weight.
Skipping breakfast has been associated with poor diets, lower physical activity, higher body mass index (BMI), larger waist circumference, higher fasting insulin, increased LDL cholesterol levels, and higher risk of obesity!
Furthermore, skipping breakfast may make you seek high-fat and energy-dense foods during the day. These are the worst type of foods for weight loss. They don’t regulate appetite and lead to the overconsumption of calories and eventually obesity!