How-to Guide

Chrono-nutrition

(What is the best time to eat?)

Eating Timing

When you think about diet, it’s easy to focus exclusively on what you are eating. But when you eat also has a major impact on your health. Here are some guidelines that show you how to optimize your food timing, in alignment with the latest scientific research.

When you are exposed to darkness, your brain produces a hormone called melatonin. This hormone tells cells throughout your body to do their nighttime jobs. These jobs are not suited to processing the contents of incoming food. Your biological night is when your melatonin level is raised, which occurs from about two hours before bedtime until about when you’d naturally wake up.

Eat only during your biological day

No food within 30 minutes of your natural wake time: If you naturally wake at 7 AM, don’t eat until at least 7:30 AM or later. If you have to wake up at 6:15 AM to an alarm (so earlier than normal), still don’t eat until 7:30 AM or later.

No food within two hours of going to bed: If your bedtime is 10 PM, you’ll want to finish your dinner by 8 PM at the latest. You don’t want to go to bed hungry though, so a good rule of thumb is to finish dinner in the two to four hours before bedtime.

Fluids: Water and non-caloric, non-caffeinated herbal teas are fine to consume in the first 30 minutes after waking and in the two-hour pre-bed window. Manage your pre-bed fluid intake to prevent overnight urination or excessive thirst. Avoiding fluids after dinner works well for many people.

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