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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is an ideal dinner time if I go to bed at 10pm and am trying to lose weight?

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  • 1


    Hanan Saleh specialises in infant & child nutrition. With additional qualifications from the Royal Hospital for Children in Melbourne Victoria. Hanan can help you with … View Profile

    It’s important to mention that our metabolism doesn't just switch off at 7:00, or at 6:00, or at 5:00, where people think, “I can't eat after this time.” It keeps working 24 hours a day. I do agree that it doesn't work perhaps as fast, efficiently or effectively as it does during the day when you're walking and exercising. While it doesn't matter if you have a late dinner, you should still make sure you're eating the right sorts of foods so your body can burn them off. In the evening, you could choose a lean piece of steak, chicken or fish with a large serving of salad or veggies, and then a small serving of low GI carbs, such as some basmati rice, sweet potato, or whole grain pasta. Don't stress out about snacks at night, but keep them low kilojoule, such as a piece of fruit or a low fat yogurt and a few rice crackers.

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    Sarah George graduated from Deakin University with a Master of Dietetics. In the following years she has completed further training in paediatric nutrition at the … View Profile

    Generally the timing of meals is not the most relevant factor when trying to lose weight as your metabolism works all throughout the day and night (even if it does slow down at night).  What is more important is that you are eating the right kinds of foods and in appropriate serving sizes in the evening.  Making sure your meal includes a lean portion of protein, a large serve of salad or vegetables and a small portion of carbohydrates is a good place to start.  Serving sizes depend on your age, activity levels and your habits throughout the day.  If you would like more specific information on the best serving sizes for you, consider consulting an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
    It is OK to have a snack after dinner if you are still hungry, but try to keep it to a low kilojoule/low GI snack such as a piece of fruit, a small tub of low-fat yoghurt or a small handful of nuts.
    Whilst it is not a specific recommendation for weight management, allowing half an hour between eating and going to bed is recommended as lying down can cause reflux of the undigested contents of your stomach into your food pipe.  As stomach acid is irritating, this can cause heart burn and reflux symptoms in some people.  Liquids are digested more quickly on the other hand so a glass of milk before bed, for example, is less likely to cause reflux symptoms.
    If you would like to discuss these issues (or another food related question) in more detail, the dietitians at Discover Health would be more than happy to assist you.  We have centres in Eltham, Fairfield, Kew, Burwood, Endeavour Hills and Doncaster.  Contact us on 9431 4337.

  • 1


    Denise Burbidge

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Denise is an Accredited Practising Dietitian working in private practice in Melbourne, and consulting to aged care facilities throughout Victoria. Denise has a particular interest … View Profile

    That is a bit of a tricky one because there is no real one set time of what is the best time to eat dinner when you’re trying to lose weight. It depends on your total daily energy and food consumption.

    In general, I tend to tell my clients to finish eating their last meal at least 2 hours prior to going to sleep. This tends to assist in digestion and minimise the risk of reflux and heart burn-type symptoms. Dietitian rules around not eating after a certain time are just one of many methods of dietary restriction, are often not maintainable and they are not really based around scientific evidence.

    If you are not achieving your weight loss goals, the best advice is to go and see a professional, such as an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD). An APD can look at your overall daily intake, not just what is happening with your evening meal.

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