Eating Dinner Early for Weight Loss

Eating Dinner Early for Weight Loss

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Eating in front of the TV can distract you and cause overeating.

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Eating dinner early and getting to bed at a decent hour can help prevent overeating at night. Night-eating syndrome is linked with obesity, according to a review published in 2012 in “Obesity Reviews.” Early dinners can help you lose weight if you reduce your total calorie intake. However, going to bed hungry is unnecessary -- and even counterproductive -- for successful weight loss.

Weight-Loss Basics

Regardless of the time you eat dinner, your total calorie intake determines how much weight you'll lose. Aim to reduce your daily intake by 500 to 1,000 calories daily to lose 1 to 2 pounds weekly, suggests the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For most women, eating 1,000 to 1,600 calories a day is often appropriate for weight loss, while 1,200- to 1,600-calorie meal plans are usually effective for weight loss in men, reports the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Timing and Size

The timing of your dinner -- and other meals and snacks -- is important during your weight-loss venture. Consume small, frequent meals throughout the day, suggests Eating small portions every few hours is a good rule of thumb, which can help increase your metabolism and reduce your risk for overeating. Eat dinner, or a snack, a few hours before bedtime to avoid late-night hunger.

Composition of Meals

In addition to the size and timing of your dinner, the composition of the meal affects weight loss. Boosting your protein intake not only keeps you feeling full from fewer calories, but it helps your body burn more calories. This can enhance weight loss, according to a review published in 2009 in the “Journal of Nutrition.” Eating protein at dinner will help prevent you from feeling hungry right before bed or in the middle of the night. Protein-rich foods include chicken, seafood, egg whites, cottage cheese, low-fat milk and yogurt, reduced-fat cheese, soy products, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Importance of Sleep

Late-night eating is linked with insomnia, according to the 2012 review published in “Obesity Reviews,” and can prevent you from getting a full night's rest. Get to bed at a reasonable hour - and avoid binge eating before bed - to increase your chance of effective weight loss. Getting too little sleep can alter appetite-regulating hormones and lead to an increased overall calorie intake, according to a review published in 2010 in “Environmental Health Perspectives.” The authors of this review suggested that getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night helps control appetite, and is associated with less weight gain compared with getting just five hours of sleep nightly.