To Lose Weight, Eat an Earlier Dinner

A new study finds that people who eat dinner earlier are thinner than late-night diners. And while you're at it, get to bed earlier.

May 9, 2011

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—How late you go to sleep and when you eat dinner could be adding unwanted inches to your waistline, suggests a new study published online in the journal Obesity.

The researchers studied the sleeping and eating patterns of 52 adults over the course of seven days. They found that those with a high body mass index went to bed later—defined by having a midpoint of sleep later than 5:30 a.m.—got up later, and ate dinner later than people who were considered "normal sleepers" (whose sleep midpoint was earlier than 5:30 a.m.). While they were eating dinner (which was usually after 8 p.m.), the night owls had a higher caloric intake, and they ate fewer fruits and vegetables than the "normal sleepers." In addition, the researchers noted that people who go to bed late at night tend to get less sleep, which is another bad habit that can add to weight gain.


Cheryl Forberg, author of Flavor First: Cut Calories and Boost Flavor with 75 Delicious, All-Natural Recipes (Rodale, 2011) and nutritionist to competitors on The Biggest Loser, suggests eating dinner two to three hours before bedtime. In order to keep yourself from snacking later in the evening, that means aiming for a dinnertime of around 7 p.m. That way you'll wake up feeling hungry, which Forberg advises is a good thing—it means you're more likely to eat breakfast, a surefire way to shed pounds.

For more tips on beating late-night hunger pangs, see An After-Dark Appetite Could Make You Fat, and watch our video, above!