When is the right time to eat?

Is timing of meals an important factor? Should you eat directly after exercise? What happens if we eat straight before bed – will eating too late cause weight gain? Choosing the right time to eat has been a topic of discussion for quite a while, with much debate on whether eating meals at a certain time can affect the body in a positive or negative way. For example, some people say that after a workout, to reap the full rewards and to gain maximum muscle growth, you should eat within a window of 30mins/1hr of the workout session in order for the protein to help the muscles repair. Others argue that eating too late in the day is bad for the body. Read on to learn more about the science of when to eat.

Eating after exercise

For those who are working hard to improve their physical shape, Thia is a vitally important topic as timing your food can have an influence on muscle growth post workout. There is an advised window of 45 minutes post workout during which the body is able to rebuild glycogen stores, which can then help with muscle growth.

Of course, It’s not just when you eat – what you eat definitely has a big part to play as well. Carbohydrates, for example, are necessary to replenish the muscles and help with recovery, while protein is needed for muscle repair and growth. Fats can also provide muscle growth.

So, to put it into perspective for this particular scenario: imagine a long push workout, you come out of the gym with a real pump and a lot of sweat (lol) and now you head home to eat one of the most important meals of the day. This meal will allow you to replenish all the energy you lost while working out, and also enable the muscles to grow by feeding them the right nutrients. This will allow muscles to repair and strengthen as well, therefore reducing the risk of injury. 

Eating before bed

There is a lot of myth around the topic of eating in the evening. Some advocate a good supper, while others maintain that eating after six or seven pm should be avoided at all costs. Of course, lifestyle, general health and your personal goals all factor into this, but let’s take a look at a broad picture of the advantages and disadvantages of eating before bed.


  • Promotes good, satisfying sleep – depending on what you consume. Avocado toast and peanut butter are good examples of foods that will allow you to have a good sleep on a full stomach.
  • Supports weight loss – this is (again) situational depending on what you consume and for many seems counter-intuitive. However, if you sleep on an empty stomach, your body lacks the calories it needs to recharge. This results in your body holding onto carbs and fats instead of using them for fuel.
  • Helps to maintain blood sugar levels.


  • While eating straight before bed can provide a good sleep (if you eat the right foods), it can contribute to poor sleep if you eat the wrong foods, especially those high in sugar or caffeine.
  • Slower metabolism – your body slows down its functions at night to prepare for sleeping, so eating foods that high in carbs can make it harder to digest in time and could result in weight gain.
  • Heart disease – it goes without say, but if you are eating junk food late at night, then it can cause cholesterol levels to increase as well as blood pressure levels which can eventually resolve in heart diseases.

The final word

While there is far more to this debate than can be covered in one article, It is safe to conclude that in most situations, the optimum time to eat is three hours before you sleep. This will give the body enough time to properly digest the food you have consumed and will help to lessen the effect on weight gain/loss as well as avoid any impact on your sleep quality.

A lot of people are victims to not eating within the window of 30/45mins of a workout, however this isn’t a major issue. While it’s recommended that the prime window is between that time, provided you are still consuming the right nutrients and achieving the right level of macros and overall calories throughout the day, it will not affect your body goals.

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