Is There a Certain Time of Day I Should be Eating?

Is There a Certain Time of Day I Should be Eating?

Often we talk about what to eat, how much to eat, or how to prepare what we eat, but what about when to eat? A few studies have come out recently that suggest timing of meals may also be important to our overall health. How is your meal timing?

Breakfast

We have all heard it said before: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” There are a few reasons this has been stated. The first being, jump-starting your metabolism when you wake up is a great way to start the day. You give your body fuel to take on the morning. The second is if you skip breakfast, you are more likely to become overly hungry and then binge at lunch or dinner, making unhealthy meal choices. This can lead to blood glucose levels in unwanted ranges. Even schools have noticed the importance of breakfast and many offer free breakfast to children to try to increase their success and attention in the classroom. When monitoring your diabetes, have you noticed a difference in blood glucose levels when you eat a late breakfast or skip it altogether?

Lunch

A recent study found that our bodies may naturally burn more calories in the afternoon and evening than in the morning. Participants were placed in darkened rooms with no evidence of time of day. They were then given controlled calorie intakes and encouraged not to exercise. “In the end, the researchers determined that calorie burning at rest was at its lowest in the morning and at its highest in the afternoon and evening.”1“[But] the practical implications of our findings are that any irregularity in our schedules of eating and sleeping may make us more likely to gain weight.”1 Since weight gain and loss is such an important part of the diabetic journey, this may be an important piece of the puzzle. Keeping a regular schedule of eat, wake and sleep may be most beneficial in the control and maintenance of diabetes.

Dinner

Another study was recently done on a large group of American Hispanics and Latinos that found eating a large amount of the day’s energy intake (30%) after 6 pm lead to an increased risk of hypertension and prediabetes than for those who did not eat large amounts of calories after 6 pm.3 The study found that the late eaters had higher levels of fasting glucose, insulin levels, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Although this study does not directly correlate to people with diabetes or people of other ethnicities, we can see how eating a larger amount of calories at the end of the day may lead to negative health effects.

Eating all three meals at roughly the same time each day throughout the week may also help with the routine of checking blood glucose levels. You physician will tell you when are the best times to check your levels, but commonly it is recommended to check a fasting level, before meals, and 1-2 hours after the beginning of each meal.2 Keeping a food journal may also be beneficial in knowing how your body responds to foods throughout the day.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Type2Diabetes.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
  1. Kirsi-MarjaZitting, NinaVujovic Robin K.Yuan, Cheryl M.Isherwood, Jacob E.Medina, WeiWang, Orfeu M.Buxton, Jonathan S.Williams, Charles A.Czeisler, Jeanne F.Duffy. Human Resting Energy Expenditure Varies with Circadian Phase. Current Biology Nov 8, 2018, Vol. 28, Issue 22, 19 November 2018, Pages 3685-3690.e3
  2. American Diabetes Association. Checking Blood Glucose. Retrieved December 12, 2018, from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/recently-diagnosed/where-do-i-begin/checking-blood-glucose.html
  3. Healio. High caloric intake late in day may increase CV risk in Hispanic, Latino adults (November 20, 2018). Retrieved December 12, 2018, from https://www.healio.com/cardiology/chd-prevention/news/online/%7B6202a1b5-dbbf-4b5c-bd95-4d329208b21f%7D/high-caloric-intake-late-in-day-may-increase-cv-risk-in-hispanic-latino-adults

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