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Should you eat less for dinner

Updated: May 10, 2023

There has been a long debate about whether it is important to eat light at dinner or if it does not matter.

While some people argue that a heavy dinner can lead to weight gain and other health issues, others believe that a substantial meal at night can help you sleep better and keep hunger way.

In this post we will talk about the 2 points of view and try to help you make your own opinion about it.

First we will talk about the disadvantages of having an heavy meal at night and second we will dive into the positive sides.


Arguments against a heavy dinner

Weight gain


One of the most common reasons people try to eat less at dinner is the fear of weight gain.

They would say that when you consume a large meal at night, your body doesn't have enough time to burn off the calories before you go to bed.

Also, research has shown that people who eat large meals at night have higher levels of insulin, which can increase the risk of diabetes and other health problems.

In reality, how do calories really work? Is the time you are eating important? Do you have to count your calories every day?

I've talked about that in a previous post that can be very interesting to you to read (click here).


Disrupted sleep


Another reason to eat less at dinner is that heavy meals can disrupt your sleep.

If you are having a heavy dinner, your body has to work harder to digest the food, which can lead to discomfort and indigestion during the night.

This can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

Additionally, eating heavy meals at night has been linked to sleep apnea, a condition that causes breathing to stop and start repeatedly during sleep.

This argument is difficult to argue as everyone has a different diggestive system. The way it works and responds to the amount of food consumed will then vary from person to person. Some people may have no issue at all if they have a big dinner when other might find it very uncomfortable.

In that case the best option is probably to try it and find out what is the best for you.


Increased hunger


Eating light at dinner can help you control your hunger levels.

When you consume a large meal, your body produces more ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger. This can lead to overeating and snacking throughout the night, which can contribute to weight gain and other health problems related to health or sleep.

One more time, even if the creation of more ghrelin is a fact, everyone will react differently to it.

If you don't have any specific food disorder it is very unlikely that you will wake up at night to snack.

However early in the morning you might feel slightly more hungry and might eat a larger breakfast.

As for sleep disruption, this is very personal and having a long term routine that works for you is the best way to find your own balance.


Advantages of having a heavy dinner


Improved sleep


Eating a substantial meal at night can help you sleep better.

The consumption of carbohydrates release serotonin, a hormone that promotes relaxation and sleep. Add to that the satisfaction of consuming healthy fat and high quality protein and you get a perfect combo to fall asleep with a satisfied mind and belly.



Developing your metabolism


No matter the size of your meal, your diggestive track have to diggest it.

If you are having a bigger meal than usually, your body will still have to process it and get into work to diggest everything.

A bigger meal for a bigger work. Having a slightly heavier dinner will make your body work harder and so burn more calories so don't worry too much about getting weight.


Social benefits


Many cultures around the world view dinner as a time for family and socializing. Sharing a meal with loved ones can help reduce stress and promote a sense of community and belonging, which is definetely a pro.

During the day you may not have time to relax and have a proper lunch in good conditions.

Why not keeping some calories for later in the day?

Now that you know how calories work you can organise your meal based on that. Organisation is an essential key to succees.



Conclusion

So, is it important to eat light at dinner? The answer is, it depends.

While eating light at dinner can help prevent later hunger and improve sleep, a substantial meal at night can also have health and social benefits.

One more time it will depends on your needs and personality.

If you are wondering what would be the best for you, my answer will probably be 'try it out'.

Listen to your feeling and to your body and keep in mind that consistency is the key.

Take the diet that works the best for you and stick to it long enough to have results.



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