The Best Times to Eat Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

For a lot of people including myself, the time of the day we eat is determined by various factors, like our hunger levels, work, the medications we need to take and the time our loved ones are available to share a meal. Sometimes we may have to change our schedule for the day, such as when we’re supposed to dine at MGM buffet with friends. It’s a huge and sumptuous buffet so you’re probably going to eat only once for that particular day.

Sticking to the same exact mealtimes every single day can be challenging — and there are really days when it’s just not possible.

But is there a “best time” to eat? Research suggests that the time of the day we eat as well as how much time that passes between meals may have a significant impact on our health.

While many of us focus on what we eat, apparently, when we eat is also important. Our bodies digest food differently depending on what time of day (or night) it is. These constant fluctuations have something to do with circadian rhythm which regulates our sleep-wake patterns.

We often think of circadian rhythms as something that affects how awake or sleepy we are, but there’s more to it than that. It also influences our physical, behavioral and mental processes including digestion and eating.

Mealtimes have an effect on our circadian rhythm. Researchers have found relations between circadian rhythm, weight status, and insulin resistance. Repeated disruptions to an individual’s circadian rhythms, such as traveling between different time zones, puts a person at risk of developing a metabolic condition.

Here are some guidelines to remember to help you maintain consistent mealtimes:


The jury’s still out on how important the timing of breakfast can be to a person’s overall health. Some insist breakfast should be eaten a few hours from waking up, while others believe it’s best to wait until much later in the day to “break the fast.”

There are studies that found that skipping this meal causes people to eat more during lunch.

Moreover, studies also found that consuming more calories during breakfast instead of eating in the evening could help with weight loss efforts.

On the other hand, in other research it was also found that limiting the time window of when you should eat (12 hours or less) also help improve metabolic health and weight loss.


An earlier lunch may aid in weight loss. Recent research even suggests that an early lunch helps create a healthier microbiome, the collection of good bacteria in the gut that contributes to overall health.

Keeping the majority of your calorie intake during the earlier times of the day has been found to boost weight loss efforts.


Eating dinner early results to better health outcomes. A study which involved 8,000 participants (adults) found that eating late at night results in higher levels of fat in the blood. Late night dinners also result in weight gain, increased body fat and increased risk of chronic diseases.

This may be attributed to melatonin, a hormone that is released at night to regulate circadian rhythm. When melatonin is released, the body also releases insulin which prevents the digestion of sugar.

Choosing Your Meal Times

Here are some tips to help you when you’re in the process of choosing your mealtimes:

1. Eat early. Earlier mealtimes lead to better health outcomes.

2. If possible, keep your entire caloric consumption within a 12-hour time frame.

3. Take into consideration your circadian rhythm. Your body will not be able to properly process your meals late at night or when you eat close to your bedtime.

You should also consider certain factors:

1. Daily routine. Maintaining consistency can help prevent disruptions to your own circadian rhythm.

2. Medications. If you’re taking medications, you may need to time it with your meals and this will have to be taken into consideration when deciding when to eat.

3. Food. If you have to eat late in the evening, it’s best to avoid heavy sugary foods or carb-rich foods. Instead, eat small portions of nutrient-dense food.

There is no one size fits all mealtime. What may work for one person may not be as effective for someone else. The right eating schedule depends on several factors, like your schedule and meds. But by taking into account the fundamentals of mealtimes, you should be able to decide what’s truly the optimal times for you.

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