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The Benefits of Eating Dinner Early

Zoe Browning life_hacks /
food healthy early dinner
@matildadjerf via instagram

Who doesn't love a late-night dinner catching up with friends? We know... most of us do. But what if we told you that eating too close to bed can be negatively affecting your digestion? Turns out eating an early super has many benefits - who knew?! Here's why you should probably move your reservation up an hour or two.

According to Rachel Swanson, registered dietitian and founder of the nutrition consulting practice Diet Doctors, LLC, we might have been focusing a little too much on what we put into our bodies over when we put it into our bodies. Wellness experts have revealed that eating early on in the night can impact weight loss or maintenance, digestive system, and even energy levels. This is because our body needs a bit of time to digest the yummy food we put into it - and when we are deep in REM sleep, that system is shut down.

health benefits early dinner
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So when exactly should we be eating? "An 'early dinner' is highly subjective," Swanson explained. "This can be considered 5 p.m. for some, whereas others may consider 8 p.m. early. So having some construct around this conversation will be helpful." The main idea is that it's 2-3 hours before an individual is crawling into bed. "This recommendation is part of a bigger and much more sophisticated biological picture. The benefit of an early dinner has to do with the fact that as the day winds down, the body needs less food for energy and should be entering a fasting state," the nutritionist added. "Capping your intake more than two hours before bed allows for an extended overnight fasting window to take place - the essential downtime your body needs to facilitate detoxification and cellular repair." Sound like a simple way to get many wellness benefits! Count us in. 

It all has to do with one crucial working system, "Our circadian system orchestrates metabolism in a 24-hour cycle: we have innate rhythms in our energy expenditure, appetite, insulin sensitivity, and glucose disposal (blood sugar utilization)," Swanson revealed of the many things the circadian rhythm is in charge of, proving how beneficial an early meal can be. "Timing food intake around our innate circadian rhythm (our sleep-wake cycles) in this way influences a tremendous amount of physiological processes downstream—including that of metabolic function and even fat loss."