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The Case for the Early Bird Special

The Case for the Early Bird Special

The Case for the Early Bird Special

Eating a late dinner worsens glucose tolerance, leading to weight gain


Dinner is ready! Wait, what time is it?

Recently, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism conducted a study to learn of the metabolic effects of a late night dinner. Because, let’s face it, one or more of these scenarios may be applicable in your life:

  1. You had a late lunch and aren’t hungry until 9pm
  2. You are a college student thriving on the late night studying routine and lost track of time
  3. You work until 5pm, have an hour commute due to traffic to pick up the kids and you don’t even start cooking dinner until 7pm, let alone eat your full meal until after the kids go to bed

...but how bad is that exactly?

This study compared a 6pm dinner to a 10pm dinner, both with a fixed sleep period from 11pm-7am. Surely to no surprise, the 10pm dinner group had a bit more negative outcomes than the 6pm dinner group. Overall, the late dinner group had higher glucose measures inducing overnight glucose intolerance, reduced fat mobilization and oxidation, and, not to mention, increased evening cortisol. Basically, poor blood sugar control, less fat burned and more stress on the body.

Habitual late night meals can predispose us to obesity and metabolic syndrome, both conditions that most would try to avoid experiencing in their lifetime. Not to mention the additional challenges this causes the circadian rhythm, or our sleep patterns.

Ultimately, here is the bottom line: the earlier you can eat dinner and the more balanced your meals can be, the better.

A few ideas to help get dinner on the table earlier:

-          Split up family roles to help with preparation (great way for kids to get involved!)

-          Chop up vegetables the night before or opt for frozen vegetables for a quick steam and serve side option

-          Prepare a few freezer meals that you can toss into the crockpot before starting the day

-          Plan for leftovers by cooking more the night before to be repurposed into another dinner

Published September 2020

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