Why you should eat dinner before sunset

Science and Health

It’s no secret that our dietary choices influence our physical and mental well-being. However, you may need to realize that your meals’ timing can be just as crucial. 

While we often attribute weight gain solely to calorie consumption, recent research has uncovered the significance of meal timing in this equation.

In June 2020, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism published a compelling study revealing a connection between late dinners and an elevated risk of weight gain and high blood sugar levels. Remarkably, the same meal, consumed at different times, has distinct effects on an individual’s body.

By this rationale, health experts advocate for early dinners, as they can bring about many health benefits. Here are some of the most notable advantages that might persuade you to adopt this tradition, whether you reside on a military base, kibbutz, or in a nursing home:

Enhanced Digestion

Our bodies operate on a natural cycle that has remained unchanged for thousands of years. In the past, humans would retire early and consume their last meal near sunset. While this may seem unconventional in the modern era, studies suggest that it can positively influence our “biological clock,” particularly concerning digestion.

Eating an early dinner can optimize digestion and metabolism, affording the stomach ample rest during the night and relieving stress on the liver. Consequently, liver detoxification may improve, benefiting the balance of beneficial gut bacteria.

Balanced Blood Sugar

The study demonstrated that an early dinner enhances insulin sensitivity, meaning the body’s cells respond more effectively to this hormone, which regulates blood sugar levels. This not only reduces the risk of diabetes but also mitigates weight gain, even when consuming the same foods that might be more detrimental later in the day.

Adopting an early dinner routine lets you enjoy an evening of restful sleep with peace of mind, knowing that any dietary indulgences are less likely to harm you. 

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that early dining does not eliminate these consequences.

Heart Health Benefits

Large, late-night meals, particularly those high in carbohydrates and fats, can negatively impact heart activity and cardiovascular health. Conversely, research indicates that early dinners can positively impact heart health, partly due to their beneficial effect on liver function. Early dining allows the liver to “rest” more during the night, facilitating efficient toxin removal and reducing the risk of “fatty liver” and cholesterol-related heart and vascular issues.

Improved Sleep

Eating a heavy meal just before bedtime can disrupt your ability to fall asleep and the quality of your sleep. Have you ever wondered why this occurs? Following a substantial meal that emphasizes the digestive system, the body goes into overdrive to process the food. 

Consequently, the body remains highly active, making it challenging to attain a relaxation conducive to falling asleep. Experts recommend that older adults, individuals with chronic illnesses, and those experiencing sleep disorders aim to dine as early as possible. This promotes a more natural slowing down of bodily functions, a practice that can benefit everyone.

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Emotional Balance and Peace of Mind

The “biological clock” mentioned earlier is also influenced by the secretion of various hormones, including insulin and cortisol. Early dining aligns more harmoniously with these physiological processes, positively impacting the regulation of these hormones and others.

Consuming your meal at least two hours before bedtime helps achieve better hormonal balance. This not only aids digestion and sleep but also fosters a sense of relaxation, reducing feelings of anxiety, mental stress, and intrusive thoughts. To enhance this tranquility, consider taking a leisurely 20-minute walk after your meal. This practice promotes better digestion and encourages the release of hormones that soothe and alleviate the day’s worries.