BROOK PIFER/Getty Images
- Scientists think the timing of meals can affect our biological rhythms.
- Making breakfast the largest meal of the day is best for losing weight, studies have found.
- It’s best to stop eating three hours before bedtime, according to scientists.
You had dinner hours ago but you’re still awake, and your stomach starts telling you it wants a late-night snack.
Now you know you’re not supposed to eat that late, because you’ve heard it’s bad for you, but how late is too late?
Besides snacking, how late can dinner be?
Just like the circadian rhythm that controls our sleep, scientists think our bodies have a circadian clock for eating, too. And messing with this clock by eating too late or at weird times could affect our sleep and our ability to maintain a healthy weight.
Many other cultures around the world eat larger meals for lunch instead of dinner.
Researchers have had groups of people eat more calories at breakfast than dinner, while the other group eats more at dinner than breakfast. Inevitably, the first group ends up losing more weight while the second group ends up gaining it.
In studies, people who eat most of their calories at dinner also tend to skip breakfast, get worse sleep, eat more calories overall, and be obese.
One small study published in September 2022 found that people who ate bigger breakfasts didn’t feel as hungry as people who ate more calories at dinner.
So when exactly should you stop eating at night?
Banishing late night snacks after that time could help alleviate the symptoms of acid reflux disease, too.
If you still feel those uncontrollable hunger pains late at night, try shifting when you eat.
Try eating more of your calories earlier in the day, at least 30 grams of protein per meal, or six smaller meals instead of three huge ones. All of these things have been linked to weight loss. Be sure to consult with a doctor before trying anything drastic.
Hopefully when you’re winding down for the night, your stomach doesn’t expect a treat, too.