Does When You Eat Matter?

We have been hearing conflicting evidence for years about whether or not the timing of your meals matters when it comes to weight loss and general good health. First, we were told that eating late at night was bad for these goals. Then, experts said when you eat isn’t nearly as important as what you eat.

Recently, a Salk Institute professor and expert on circadian rhythms research has shed new light on this debate. See what the latest word on this common question is, and get some healthy eating tips that could help you stick to a balanced diet.

New Evidence Sheds Light on Timing Meals with Circadian Rhythm

According to Dr. Satchin Panda, the human body is highly sensitive to and in tune with natural circadian rhythms. Because of this, there is evidence that it’s best to eat the majority of your daily food intake earlier in the day, rather than in the evening or late at night once your brain has begun to secrete melatonin to help you fall asleep. Try to limit your daily eating to an eight- or ten-hour window, rather than grazing virtually nonstop from the moment you wake up to the time you fall asleep.

Some studies also suggest that interrupting your body’s natural cycles could increase your risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Healthy Eating Tips

  • Eat a bigger breakfast and a light dinner
  • Avoid eating high-fat foods late at night
  • Eliminate snacking right before bed
  • Be mindful of portion control and healthy food choices

Bottom Line

The latest evidence points to potential health benefits of consuming most of your calories during the early half of the day and keeping evening eating light. However, timing your meals right is still not a substitute for making healthy eating choices. Pay attention to what, how much, and when you’re eating.