Does Meal Time Matter?


With the days getter longer, it seems we have more time for outdoor activities and later dinnertime hours. But haven’t we always been told that it is better for the body’s metabolism to eat dinner earlier in the evening rather than later? Well, I did some research and found there is no real scientific data to support this notion but rather there are studies showing benefits for both early and late eating. One study found that those who eat later have a tendency to order more than usual because they haven’t eaten for a prolonged period of time. And there are studies to state the opposite, too. People who eat earlier in the evening have a tendency to snack more at night before bed consuming more calories than if they ate dinner later. And their snacking is typically not on healthy food but more often high-sugar desserts. I don’t know very many people who want to snack on carrots or salads after dinner, do you? People in Europe don’t seem to be overweight because they eat late at night. Maybe it’s something else.

From my professional experience, I believe it is more important to eat quality food for the body’s metabolism than to worry about what time you eat. If you eat a dinner that has an appropriate amount of protein for your body, some nutrient-rich and filling low-sugar vegetables and healthy fats, you can eat dinner at any time. This meal should be consumed at a time that works for you and your family’s schedule. If everyone is running around after school and work, have a healthy snack in between (maybe an apple and cheese or a protein bar) and prepare a nice dinner at home later. Don’t hit the fast food drive-thru – schedule time for eating properly. Eating right should be as important as work, school, sports, and other activities are to you – in fact, you need good fuel to excel in life.

Eating habits are very different for each person, family and culture. If you live in California and have children, chances are you eat dinner around 6 pm. but if you live in Europe, you may not sit down to eat until 9 pm. Or if you are retired, you take advantage of the early-bird specials at restaurants and eat at 4 pm.

My husband and I are empty-nesters and we eat dinner around 9 pm each night. We get off work around 5:30 pm, have a protein snack, and then hit the home gym. Afterwards, we prepare a meal together. It’s our time to catch up from the days’ activities and wind down, usually with some light music playing in the background. Bedtime is around midnight, which allows enough time to digest our meal. It works for us. Find out what works for you.

For more information on this topic, feel free to email Paula Hendricks at