What’s your dinner time? New study says a 7 pm dinner could change your life!

This study shows that eating dinner at 7 pm can help you achieve greater longevity and Indian doctors agree that it's the perfect dinner time.

ByChetana Belagere

Published Nov 23, 2023 | 9:00 AMUpdatedNov 23, 2023 | 12:31 PM

Eating dinner at 7 pm has many benefits for the body. (Creative Commons)

What time do you eat dinner? I mean, does it matter as long as you eat something? Yes! And quite a lot, say recent studies and health experts, who are advocating the importance of this seemingly insignificant habit.

“It was our tradition to finish food before 7.30 pm in the old days. Now, with fast lifestyles, and opening of numerous restaurants, pubs, cinema halls, etc, eating habits have changed,” Dr Abhay Gundgurthi, an endocrinologist at Sagar Hospitals in Bengaluru, tells South First.

He adds, “Dinner is often the meal that gets delayed the most, leading to an increase in diabetes, heart-related ailments, and other metabolic disorders.”

Recent studies have linked early dinners to not just better digestion, improved sleep, and lower risk of chronic diseases, but also obesity and even longevity of a person.

Also read: Lifestyle prescriptions’ and why they are important in treating diabetes

Late dinners and lifestyle diseases

In India’s urban areas, where work and social commitments often stretch late into the night, finding time for an early dinner can be challenging.

Late-night eating can disrupt our body’s natural rhythms, leading to weight gain and metabolic problems.

Renowned neurologist from Apollo Hospitals in Hyderabad, Dr Sudhir Kumar, had recently posted on X, “Early dinner reduces the risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Restricting the time window for eating (by having an early dinner) reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes, and many other diseases.”

He further wrote, “If you go further back in history, our grandparents and previous generations used to have dinner soon after sunset (and it got dark).”.

Dr Sudhir added that late-night dinners and late-night pubs/parties are a more recent phenomenon.

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What is the ideal time to eat dinner?

While the ideal time to eat dinner depends on one’s daily schedule, lifestyle, culture, etc, several researchers and doctors have suggested that the ideal time for dinner is between 7 and 8 pm.

“Dinner time before sunset is the ideal time. However, now, only those who tend to follow intermittent fasting normally eat by 6 pm. If not as early as 6 pm, it is ideal to eat around 7 pm at least,” Dr Shashikant Iyengar, Metabolic Coach and Low Carb Practitioner, tells South First.

Eating dinner around this time aligns with the body’s natural circadian rhythm, which helps in optimal digestion and metabolism, Dr Satyanarayana Mysore, Head of the Department of Sleep Medicine and Pulmonology from Manipal Hospital in Bengaluru, tells South First.

“Finishing dinner by 7 pm allows your body enough time to digest the food before bedtime, enhancing sleep quality and overall health. It also aligns with the natural decline in metabolism that occurs in the evening,” he explains.

But all said and done, the best dinner time also depends on individual schedules. For example, if someone gets home late from work, eating immediately might not be feasible. In such cases, it’s still advisable to allow at least a couple of hours between dinner and bedtime to aid digestion and sleep quality, Dr Mysore adds.

Ultimately, consistency in meal timing is also crucial. Eating at roughly the same time every day can help regulate your body’s internal clock and improve your metabolic processes.

Also read: The shocking truth behind addiction to ultra-processed foods

Eating dinner at 7 pm can increase longevity

7 pm dinner: Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

A study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition explores the intriguing link between eating an early dinner and potential longevity.

Conducted in L’Aquila, Italy, a region known for its high population of nonagenarians (people aged 90 to 99) and centenarians (those reaching 100 years), the study focused on the timing of dinner and the types of food consumed.

The researchers found that dinner was typically served around 7:13 pm. Further research revealed that all participants followed a dietary pattern characterised by a strict calorie regimen.

They maintained a low-calorie intake over a significant period, spanning 17.5 hours from dinner to lunch the following day.

Why eating before sunset helps

Dr Pramod V Satya, Consultant Internal Medicine at Manipal hospital in Millers Road, tells South First that finishing all meals before the sun sets and not eating until the next morning not only has health benefits but is also good for weight loss.

This gives a good fasting period of almost 14 hours, which is also called intermittent fasting.

“The reason this results in weight loss is towards the evening, the body tends to produce more steroid hormones, growth hormones, and more insulin. These are all lipogenic, they reduce sugars and store it as fat. So always you tend to produce more fat from whatever food you eat in the evening,” explains Dr Satya.

He adds, “That is why intermittent fasting deprives the body of the calories when it is in the position to make a large amount of fat. Intermittent fasting with a plant-based diet has proven to reduce weight and also act as good protector against cardiac conditions, it is less atherogenic. Eating before sunset will help to reduce unhealthy fats that tend to block small blood vessels.”

Also read: Are you over-seasoning your child’s future? 

Consistency is key

Ultimately, consistency in meal timing is crucial, says Dr Gundgurthi. Eating at roughly the same time every day can help regulate your body’s internal clock and improve your metabolic processes.

Eating at the same times each day also enhances digestion and nutrient absorption, and stabilises metabolic functions.

This regularity can prevent digestive discomforts like indigestion and acid reflux, aid in effective weight management by regulating hunger cues, and maintain stable energy and mood levels through balanced blood sugar.

Dr Gundgurthi adds, “Consistent meal timings, especially for dinner, contribute to improved sleep quality by allowing the body to digest food well before bedtime.”