Early dinner can burn fat, lower blood sugar - study

An early dinner is good for digestion, and anything that is good for digestion aids weight loss, experts say. / Net photo

A recent study shows that having a late dinner can cause weight gain, and high blood sugar levels regardless of the calories. Eating dinner at 10pm may affect a person’s blood glucose and the ability to burn the fat.

New research discovers that the time one eats may play a significant role in gaining weight. The study published in Endocrine Society’s ‘Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism’ shows that eating late dinner is associated with weight gain and high blood sugar levels regardless of the meal. However, not everyone reacts to eating late meals the same way.


“Eating late dinner can lead to numerous health hazards like, heart diseases, and obesity, among others. When someone delays to eat, their bodies will delay to prepare to sleep. This can affect one’s memory or regulation for the following day,” says Emmy Ntamanga, a Kigali-based nutrition consultant.


He also notes that irregular eating patterns can affect the circadian system, thus affecting the brain’s ability of learning, concentration and worse. 


The nutrition consultant says that eating and going to bed shortly after can increase the risk of acidity, and acid reflux. This is because the stomach can find it hard to digest the food when a person is lying in bed, the pressure of food metabolising can result in loosening of lower esophageal sphincter (LES), hence, giving way to undigested food and stomach acids to travel back to the esophagus. The night time, reflux can be prevented through creating at least a two-hour gap between eating and sleeping.

Reflux can also lead to esophageal cancer. The number of people with acid reflux has grown significantly in recent years, he adds.

Ntamanga says that poor timing of meals can affect cholesterol levels which can increase the risk of heart disease or suffering from a heart attack. 

He points out that eating at night, one might tend to eat more, thus consuming extra calories, and with time, the increase of calories leads to weight gain.

The nutrition expert advises feeding on nutrient-dense foods when one feels hungry after dinner, because emotional eating or eating while tired can result in poor food choices. 

“Nutrient-dense foods and drinks are lower-calorie foods with high nutritional value. For example, salmon (it has beneficial fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals), garlic (the bioactive compounds in garlic have confirmed disease fighting properties), potatoes (they provide large among of resistant starch), liver (it contains large amounts of B vitamins, among other healthy substances), sardines (they contain some of almost every nutrient the body needs), egg yolks (this is where almost all of the nutrients are found), among others,” he concludes.


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