Praise of dinner, often skipped to lose weight quickly: why it is important

Praise of dinner, often skipped to lose weight quickly: why it is important

OfSilvia Turin

How to manage the peculiarities of this meal, especially regarding conviviality and the time in which it takes place

There dinner for many it is the main meal, it is the only one in the family (or in any case the only convivial one) and often takes place late.

In recent times it has been “demonized” because it is “responsible” forweight accumulation and for the same reason it represented and represents the “right” meal to skip in the new fashion regime of intermittent fasting.

Leaving to the in-depth analysis on intermittent fasting (see HERE, ed.) the task of explaining what happens to the body when you skip a meal and to whom it is not recommended, let’s focus onimportance of dinner for our body.
It certainly has peculiarities that must be respected and “managed” and these are those that concern the conviviality and thehours in which it takes place.


According to a report published in February 2021 by the American College of Pediatricians, it was demonstrated that to have dinner together improves school performance, improves nutrition and decreases obesity in children. According to one study published in 2020 in the journal Innovation in Agingolder adults who skipped meals were more likely to experience symptoms of depression anxiety and insomnia compared to those who did not. «It is certainly significant thateffect of interpersonal relationships: children and adolescents – confirmation Stefano Erzegovesi, Nutritionist and Psychiatrist – have a sure improvement in lifestyle and health when they compare themselves with the “grown-ups” at home. And loneliness for the elderly is a risk factor for all diseases: both mental (anxiety, depression, insomnia) and physical (for example cardiovascular diseases). In this case, skipping meals can be an indirect indicator of loneliness.”

Dinner time

The time you eat dinner can actually be a problem because in a country where people often dine late, don’t follow i circadian rhythms (modulated according to the hours of light/dark) can greatly affect your health: «Eating too late puts more strain on us metabolism and increases the risk of obesity (going towards the night we become more resistant toinsulin), but not only that: it also prevents the brain from carrying out its precious tasks of daily self-cleaning”, says Erzegovesi.
On a digestive level, you should eat at least two hours before going to bed, also because getting too heavy doesn’t help you sleep at night.

Skip dinner

In order not to dine late, more and more people decide to skip it completely dinner. When making such a choice you must be careful: the evening meal precedes the longest period without food, and therefore also the last opportunity of the day to give the body the calories and nourishment it needs before going to sleep. According to one study published in March 2023 on Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, skipping lunch or dinner increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Furthermore, children, pregnant women and the elderly or sick have specific nutritional needs and must consult a specialist, but is it right for everyone else to decide to skip dinner? «When possible it would be best not to skip dinner but bring it forward by a couple of hoursso as to finish it at 8pm. Or choose to simply do one cheaper dinnerfor example with a vegetable soup, a few cereals and a few legumes”, advises the expert.

For those who need to lose weight

Apparently the evening meal clashes with the need to lose weight or at least not to gain weight. Eliminate meals then it may seem like a shortcut to lose a few pounds. Skipping a meal will reduce an average of 252 to 350 calories from a person’s daily energy intake, according to USDA data.
The problem is that shortcuts are such because they avoid having to deal, in this case, with a longer path (but with safer results) which is that of learn to eat less is better.

A better approach might be to eat more calories at breakfast and lunch, then eat fewer at dinner, making it the lightest meal of the day. According to a systematic review of the studies published on Sciencedirect, people who anticipated their calories in this way lost more weight. «It is the concept of eating according to circadian rhythms, with a more economical dinner», specifies the specialist.

Practical advice

How to proceed then, given that according to many surveys, dinner, for work and social reasons, is often the richest and most complete meal of the day? «The advice, in these cases, is to maintain a complete evening meal, but to make it “poorer”: therefore with fewer refined cereals, less animal proteins and more vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Always better avoid the “all or nothing”: better to lighten and impoverish than skip dinner», explains Erzegovesi and concludes: «I remember, however, that certainly those who suffer or have suffered from food disorders should never skip meals: skipping meals activates the “fasting alert” mechanisms which, in turn, can worsen eating symptoms, both anorexic and bulimic. For the same reason, I advise against skipping meals for all people at risk of eating disorders, for example children and adolescents.”

March 2, 2024


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