A healthy diet goes beyond eating the right foods—it’s knowing when to eat them, too. The fact is, eating certain foods at certain times can affect weight, sleep, physical and mental energy, and other components of health and wellness.
AARP.org recently published a list of five tips (“What to Eat and When”) to help you reap the most benefits from what you eat each day. We thought we’d pass along a few of their key pointers:
- If you’re trying to lose weight, make lunch your biggest meal. A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that overweight and obese adults who ate their largest meal earlier in the day lost more weight than those who ate their biggest meal later, even with similar activity levels and calories.
- For an afternoon pick-me-up, eat a handful of nuts. Nuts are great for heart health, and a 2015 Spanish study found that older adults who ate a handful of nuts each day improved their memory over the course of four years. Packed with protein and fiber, they also fill you up, and help to boost and stabilize energy, so they may aid weight loss too. Almonds, pistachios, cashews and walnuts are just a few of many healthy options.
- If you need to sleep better, eat a high-fiber dinner. In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, researchers found that eating a meal high in fiber and low in saturated fat and sugar helped subjects fall asleep in less than 20 minutes, as opposed to 30 minutes for those who consumed more fat and sugar than fiber. According to study author Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an assistant professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, a high-fiber dinner was also associated with more time in slow-wave deep sleep, which is essential to proper immune function.
Read the full list of tips here.