The Importance of When You Eat

The Importance of When You Eat

‘You are what you eat’ has some truth, but a more appropriate adage may be ‘You are when you eat’.

“Eating in tune with your circadian rhythms—a.k.a. your body’s inner clock that guides you to wake and sleep—automatically helps your health. You are getting fuel when you can actually use it and allowing your body to rest when it needs to,” says Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic.

According to a 2015 study, brushing off these symptoms and eating and poor times, like very late at night, can raise blood sugar which is a risk for type 2 diabetes. There are three key points you should follow that experts recommend:

Eat during daylight hours.


“Our bodies evolved to be primed for food during the day so that we’d have plenty of energy for survival,” says Dr. Roizen.

Your body is more sensitive to insulin during the day, so you should take advantage; conversely, insulin resistance is highest at night, when you’re less active and your body thinks you should be asleep. As a result, you wind up storing most of the calories you consume in the evening as fat, Dr. Roizen says, compared to the day when insulin moves glucose from your body to your cells, using it as fuel.

“Try to eat during a 12-hour window each day—for example, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and then go on kitchen lockdown after that,” says Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and author of The Hunger Fix.

Have a hearty lunch.

If you just can’t intake a large breakfast – which is extremely good for you – focus on lunch being your key meal of the day.

“Treat it how you’d normally treat dinner,” advises Tamara Duker Freuman, RD, author of The Bloated Belly Whisperer. Ideally you’ll want to fill half of your plate with non-starchy veggies, and then divide the second half into lean protein and high-fiber carbs like sweet potatoes or quinoa.

And even if you did have a weighty morning meal, don’t skimp on lunch. “Ideally, you’ll consume about 75 percent of your calories by 4 p.m.,” says Freuman.

Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Really Fast?

Eat a light dinner, and then close the kitchen.

Since you’re resistant to insulin at night, you’ll want to avoid carb-full foods like pasta or potatoes. Opt for lean proteins paired with fiber-rich fruits and veggies.

The earlier you eat the better, but if you end up eating at 8:30 or 9pm on occasion, that’s okay. Try to have a snack a few hours before, so you don’t become too hungry and have a large meal before bed.

After that, try to avoid eating anything after that.

Late-night noshing has been linked to a bunch of bad health effects, including increased risk of both type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Healthy adults who were allowed to eat right up until bedtime had higher fasting blood sugar and cholesterol levels than those who had a hard stop at 7 p.m., according to a small 2017 University of Pennsylvania study.

So, always be mindful of when you’re eating, not just what you’re eating. It’s certainly time well-spent.

Photo Credit: iMoved Studio/; PAKULA PIOTR/

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