Best meal time for metabolic health- Your chronotype

Best meal time for metabolic health- Your chronotype

Many but not all may not aware that meal timing. Meal timings have very important roles in overall metabolic health even with the same calorie consumption in a day. If you are seeking health you also need to know about meal timing apart from food choice. Moreover, your chronotype for your internal biological clock has also some roles. Meal timing can affect your cutting of extra weight differently even you are taking a similar calorie. Moreover, biological internal clock timing can differ from person to person. That is what we called as circadian typology or chronotype. Here we will find Best meal time for metabolic health- Your chronotype as per circadian rhythm.  

Best meal time for metabolic health- Your chronotype

Main Meal timing–Lunch

Results from a study showed that late lunch eaters (after 3 p.m.) lost less weight than early lunch eaters (before 3 p.m.), in spite of having similar age, appetite hormones, calorie intake, and burn, sleep duration or similar food pattern in calorie. To find the reason another study found late eating (lunch at 4:30 p.m) decreased glucose tolerance, resting energy expenditure, and carbohydrate use as compared to early eating (lunch at 1 p.m.).Besides these researchers found a higher level of stress with late eater. Eating late also had affected the daily rhythms of the body i.e. body’s response to light and darkness. That also can cause detrimental to health.

Moreover, one study found late eating inverted the daily rhythm of salivary microbiota diversity in healthy normal-weight women as compared to early eating which may negatively affect the metabolic system.(1)

Timing for Dinner

Several studies have demonstrated that having dinner late at night associates with increased risks of obesity, abnormal cholesterol level, high blood sugar, and metabolic disorders. (1)

Late night dinner and sleep hormone Melatonin

In 2017, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young “for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm” in fruit flies.


The sleep hormone melatonin has its central role in the circadian system as a signal of the biological night. In the night your body starts to secrete melatonin which tells you to go for sleep. Researchers reported that melatonin impairs glucose tolerance. That means if you have late-night dinner with more carbohydrates, your glucose tolerance goes downside and this situation increases the probability of glucose-related metabolic disorders. (1)

Circadian” Timing of Food Intake versus “Clock” Timing

It is known that the beginning of the biological night in relation to melatonin onset may differ from person to person depending on their circadian timing or chronotype. Your chronotype shows you when to sleep based on the biological night of your internal clock. For example, people with early chronotypes present early melatonin onsets (around 7 p.m.) while late chronotypes have late melatonin onsets (around 1 a.m.). But neither-types have their melatonin onset around 10 p.m. In this sense, dinner at 9 p.m. may be a late circadian dinner for early chronotypes, but it may be an early circadian dinner for those whose biological night starts at 1 a.m. (1)

Depending on your circadian typology or chronotype, your alertness may vary in the morning and evening. Knowing your chronotype helps to plan your activities efficiently based on your internal clock.

How to know your chronotype?

Center for Environmental Therapeutics offered Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire to check the chronotype of an individual. You can check about your chronotype by answering to Questionnaire with the following two links:

Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire- Automated

Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire Self-Assessment pdf Version

While a morning chronotype type prefers to go for early bed and early rise, evening types desire a later bedtime and rise time. Whatever is the chronotype listening to the response of the own body, it is wiser to go for sleep when feeling tired and sleepy and wake up when rested enough.  

It is also known that late chronotypes, those who tend to eat late at night, have a higher risk of metabolic disturbances, related to unhealthy lifestyle factors in food selection, physical activity, and sleep. Indeed evening chronotypes show stress mostly when they get home late and difficulties controlling the amount of food eaten. They present a higher tendency to consume unhealthy foods and alcoholic beverages. One extreme example of unhealthy eating behavior is shift workers with an increased risk of obesity.

In a study, students who had 50% of daily calories, approximately eight hours before the melatonin onset or biological night, were lean, while those who took 50% of daily calories, approximately four hours before their biological night. (1) A small 2020 published clinical study on 20 healthy men and women with an average age 26 years, found late-night dinner induces metabolic disorder. This effect may lead to weight gain if it continues. (2)

However whatever be the chronotype higher calorie consumption at night i.e., during the two hours before bedtime even as per biological timing increases the probability of metabolic dysfunction and being obese.

Also, remember all calories are not the same.

Read about how simple carbohydrates from processed foods can kill your health along with weight gain.

And how fruit sugar fructose can lead to fatty liver, high uric acid, high blood sugar, fatty liver, and many more. And also know about the hidden name of sugar.

Also read about Glycemic index, glycemic load & insulin index for the type of calorie.

Timing for Breakfast

A good breakfast gives fullness and a controlled flow of energy. That has an impact on food intake in the latter part of the day. Studies reported an association of skipping breakfast to unhealthy eating behaviors and lower physical activity as well as higher metabolic risk with abnormal blood sugar and cholesterol. However, studies also reported that the addition of breakfast might not be a good strategy for weight loss, regardless of established breakfast habits. (1)

Periodic Fasting

Periodic fasting like intermittent fasting, window eating had shown many benefits along with glucose control, improving insulin sensitivity and weight loss, and help to use body fat as fuel. For example, if you are eating on a 10 hr window, you may take dinner at 8 pm and break the fast at 10 am on the next day. Moreover, a fasting-mimicking diet could spur cellular repair and improve health, says Longevity Scientist Professor Valter Longo. That is also important for longer life. Autophagy triggers only during fasting. But you need a wise approach for implementing intermittent fasting, body fat analysis, and also there are some, who should not go for it. (3, 4, 5, 6)

For extended fasting, your body needs to be prepared. Your body needs to develop the ability to use stored fats as energy instead of carbohydrates. Moreover, the choice of foods, meal planning, electrolytes for extended fasting, etc is important things to consider. Electrolytes rapidly deplete from the body through urinary during fasting. (7) Moreover, you need mental clarity.

From thousands of years, people have practicing fasting. Many different ways exist to perform intermittent fasting like extended period, short period, alternate day, 3 days a week, meal skipping, etc. One type that fits for one may not fit for you. Therefore it is important to find the way that is best suited. Also, it is not necessary to perform intermittent fasting every day. But it is more important who is going to fast rather than the type of fasting. For example, people who have a problem with nutrient absorption, also have to risk low blood sugar.  Therefore it is very much necessary to evaluate health status with a healthcare professional with proper knowledge on the subject before starting periodic fasting.   

Final Thoughts

Whatever be the strategy, having breakfast too early may be deleterious due to melatonin levels. As melatonin level may still remain high in the early morning. In opposite lunch and dinner are mostly recommended early in the day. (1) Apart from that, you can take your meal at the same time of the day.

Disclaimer: Information provided here are generalized information 
for informational and entertainment purpose only, not intended to 
provide one to one health consultation or replace practice of a 
qualified practitioner.Different people may have different health 
condition and may have different reaction to the same food. Hence 
it has been advised to consult with health care provider before 
application of any of above information 
Source and references:
1.Lopez-Minguez, J.; Gómez-Abellán, P.; Garaulet, M. Timing of 
Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Effects on Obesity and Metabolic 
Risk. Nutrients 201911, 2624.
2.Chenjuan Gu, Nga Brereton, Amy Schweitzer, Matthew Cotter, 
Daisy Duan, Elisabet Børsheim, Robert R Wolfe, Luu V Pham, 
Vsevolod Y Polotsky, Jonathan C Jun, Metabolic Effects of Late 
Dinner in Healthy Volunteers – A Randomized Crossover Clinical 
Trial, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, , 
3.Grajower MM, Horne BD. Clinical Management of Intermittent 
Fasting in Patients with Diabetes Mellitus. Nutrients. 
2019;11(4):873. Published 2019 Apr 18. doi:10.3390/nu11040873
4.Furmli S, Elmasry R, Ramos M, et al, Therapeutic use of 
intermittent fasting for people with type 2 diabetes as an 
alternative to insulin,Case Reports 2018;2018:bcr-2017-221854.
6.Deutsches Zentrum fuer Diabetesforschung DZD. "Promising 
approach: Prevent diabetes with intermittent fasting." 
ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2019. 
7.Roland L.Weinsie, Fasting—A review with emphasis on the 
electrolytes, The American Journal of Medicine, Volume 50, Issue 
2, February 1971, Pages 233-240,
Bikramjit Konwar

Author: Bikramjit Konwar


5 Responses

  1. In conclusion, our study demonstrates that higher dietary consumption after waking up and lower consumption close to bedtime are associated with lower BMI, but the relationship differs by chronotype. Furthermore, the results show a clear relationship between the timing of carbohydrate and protein intake and obesity. Although our findings may have important public health implications, experimental studies are needed to establish a causal relationship. We encourage future research to examine the effects of meal timing on weight change and risk of obesity by using an experimental design, particularly randomized trials, because findings from such studies could inform dietary guidelines. Based on our findings, future trials should consider designing personalized dietary interventions according to individual characteristics such as chronotypes. Our findings also highlight the importance of considering timing of intake relative to sleep timing (as opposed to merely local clock time) as well as the nutrient composition of meals when studying the effects of meal timing on obesity and metabolic health.

  2. Besides dietary intake, studies suggest that individuals with a morning chronotype exhibit more regular eating behavior than individuals with an evening chronotype ( 83, 85 ). Adolescents with an evening chronotype experience greater shifts in timing of breakfast consumption between weekdays and weekends, with later awakening times during weekends corresponding to later breakfast consumption ( 20 ). This irregularity in timing of eating based on an individual’s chronotype has also been reported in relation to timing of lunch ( 76, 81 ). Considering that dietary habits persist from adolescence into adulthood ( 101 ), and that cardiometabolic disease risk factors are often formed in childhood and adolescence ( 102 ), understanding how chronotype influences diet quality and eating patterns in childhood and adolescence is essential in guiding the development of dietary strategies to prevent chronic disease development. This is particularly true considering that irregularity of meal patterns has been identified as a novel risk factor for cardiometabolic disorders ( 103 ).

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