This is what happens to the body when you shift your dinner time from 9 pm to 6 pm | Food-wine News

    In many Indian households, late dinners are the norm, with families gathering to eat as late as 9:00 or 9:30 PM. However, a growing body of research suggests that shifting your evening meal to an earlier time, such as 6:00 PM, could have significant impacts on your health and well-being.

    According to a 2021 study published in the journal Nutrients, “Eating dinner late promotes metabolic dysfunctions including glucose metabolism in both rodents and humans. In contrast, early time-restricted eating (ETRE), which requires eating the last meal of the day earlier, thereby lengthening the period of time that elapses before the next meal, appears to have a positive effect on blood glucose, insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and triglycerides, especially in overweight or obese people.”

    Dr Pranav Honnavara Srinivasan, consultant gastroenterologist at Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru,  discusses what happens when you make the switch to an earlier mealtime and why it might be worth considering for your daily routine. 

    Immediate physiological changes when shifting dinner time to 6 pm?

    Dr Srinivasan says, “Shifting your dinner from 9/9:30 pm to 6 pm sets off a cascade of changes within your body. You’ll likely notice an immediate energy boost in the evening, as your body isn’t preoccupied with digesting a heavy meal before bed. This shift can also alleviate common digestive discomforts like nighttime heartburn and indigestion, as your stomach has more time to empty before you lie down.”

    Furthermore, he cites research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism which indicates that early dinners lead to more stable blood sugar levels throughout the night, potentially improving sleep quality and morning alertness.

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    dinner Consistently eating dinner at 6 pm may offer numerous long-term health benefits. (Source: Freepik)

    Impact on metabolism and digestion

    Eating earlier aligns with your body’s natural circadian rhythm – the internal clock governing various physiological processes, including metabolism, according to Dr Srinivasan.  “A late dinner disrupts this rhythm, potentially impairing digestion and contributing to weight gain.”

    He adds, “Research in Current Biology demonstrates that early time-restricted feeding (eTRF), with dinner finished by 6 pm, improves metabolic markers like fasting blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.”

    Impact on sleep patterns and overall sleep quality

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    Eating dinner at 6 pm provides a longer gap before bedtime, Dr Srinivasan says, allowing for optimal digestion and minimising sleep disruptions caused by increased body temperature and blood sugar fluctuations. This extended interval can lead to deeper, more restful sleep.

    He states, “A study in the International Journal of Obesity found that participants who shifted to earlier dinners experienced improvements in sleep duration and quality, as well as increased energy levels the following day. These findings highlight the potential of early dinner as a simple yet effective sleep-promoting strategy.”

    Potential long-term health benefits and drawbacks

    Consistently eating dinner at 6 pm may offer numerous long-term health benefits. It aligns with your circadian rhythm, potentially aiding in weight management. Dr Srinivasan confirms, “Early time-restricted feeding may decrease the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers, likely due to improved metabolic health, reduced inflammation, and better hormone regulation.”

    However, he mentions that individual responses vary. Some might initially experience increased hunger or cravings in the evening. It’s essential to listen to your body and gradually transition to an earlier dinner time.

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    First uploaded on: 11-07-2024 at 18:31 IST

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