The Ideal Time To Eat Dinner For Blood Sugar Benefits Is Earlier Than You Think

If there was a simple hack you could implement into your daily schedule to manage blood sugar, lose weight, and sleep better, would you believe it? Well, the good news is that eating dinner earlier in the evening can help you achieve all of these benefits and more, according to Healthline. On the flip side, eating delayed meals, including late-night snacking, can have adverse effects, including higher blood sugar levels.

Also called glucose, blood sugar is your body's primary source of energy, according to MedlinePlus. Generally consumed through the food you eat, your body sends glucose through your blood to all of your cells, thus giving them the energy to keep you moving and healthy. While glucose is needed for your body to function, too much sugar can lead to serious health outcomes like diabetes, so it's important to eat nutritious foods and prioritize an active lifestyle. One way to positively contribute to not just your blood sugar levels, but your overall health, may be eating your last meal of the day earlier in the evening. But exactly when is the best time to eat dinner for optimal health benefits?

The optimal time for dinner

One way to keep your blood sugar levels lower is to eat dinner earlier in the evenings, says MBGHealth. Eating your last meal of the day earlier has been found to provide greater glycemic control and lower blood sugar levels through the night. A 2021 study published in Nutrients found that people who ate dinner at 6 p.m. were more likely to have better blood sugar levels than people who ate their last meal of the day at 9 p.m. The group that ate earlier recorded lower blood sugar levels throughout the night, while the group that ate dinner later experienced higher blood sugar levels.

The study termed the act of eating the last meal of the day at an earlier time as "early time-restricted eating (ETRE)" and found that the effects on blood sugar were partially based on a longer period of time between the final meal of the day and the first meal of the day the following morning. Healthline also reports that eating dinner at 6 p.m. is an optimal mealtime for experiencing lower blood sugar levels compared to eating at 10 p.m. For those looking to dip their toes into intermittent fasting, moving your dinnertime up just a few hours and giving the ETRE practice a go may result in better health outcomes, including lower blood sugar levels in both the short term and long term.

Other benefits of eating earlier

An earlier dinnertime not only lowers blood sugar levels, but can also lead to better sleep quality, weight management, and prevention of health conditions like diabetes and heart disease, says Healthline. The habit of eating earlier has been found to improve weight loss while eating later at night has been linked to a reduction in the ability to burn fat. Part of the reasoning is that eating earlier gives your body more time to digest the food you've eaten before you go to sleep. If your body cannot fully digest before you tuck in for the night, you may experience increased indigestion and acid reflux that can disrupt your sleep quality (via Self).

Not only should you be mindful of how close to bedtime you eat your last meal, but it's also important to be aware of the liquids you consume. Caffeine can significantly disrupt your sleep and it's advised that it shouldn't be consumed within four to six hours of going to bed, reports VeryWellHealth. Caffeine is a stimulant that can make it difficult to fall asleep, and can cause insomnia or wakefulness during the night. When managing blood sugar levels, inconsistent and low-quality sleep have been linked to increased blood sugar levels (per Sleep Foundation). This means that having a late-night cup of coffee or caffeinated tea can undo the benefits of eating dinner earlier.