Why dinner should be the lightest meal of the day


It is a proven fact that heavy dinners contribute to weight gain. As the adage goes, ‘Breakfast like a prince, lunch like king and dine like a pauper’. And that’s as true today as when that advice was coined.

Through the day, even with a sedentary lifestyle, the body is awake and active, and that means ir can digest its food effectively, and begin to use the energy created.

A heavy dinner, however, means that in the sluggish hours of sleep, the body is simultaneously trying to do what it’s meant to do — rest and repair — and what it now needs to do, which is digest the large meal you downed.

“It doesn’t help that, when you’re asleep, your basal metabolic rate drops, further hampering digestion of food and absorption of nutrients,” says Dr Komal Malik, a dietician at Max Smart Hospital.

So what time should you have dinner? Dr Komal recommends you eat your last meal / snack / indulgence of the day a minimum of two hours before bedtime. “In terms of how your body works, the ideal dinner time is 8 or 8.30 pm. That way there are still enough hours to digest and process the food before the body begins to get sluggish before sleep.”

An ideal dinner should be low on fats, sugars and carbohydrates. You’re best off eating soups, khichdi, dalia, roti-sabzi and dal, or something fresh and healthy like a quinoa salad. The meal should be a combination of protein and fiber. Opt for complex carbohydrates like rotis instead of simple carbs like rice and white bread.

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