What is the best time of day to eat when it’s hot?

What is the best time of day to eat when it’s hot?

Image shows a group of people eating a meal outside in the sun.

No wonder people in the Mediterranean eat dinner at 10 pm (Picture: Metro.co.uk/Getty)

The UK is notorious for its early meal times (just try mentioning when you have dinner to someone in Spain – they’ll laugh), but having a big meal at 5pm while it’s nearing 30 degrees outside sounds like a bad idea.

While sitting by the freezer eating an ice lolly may sound like a more appealing option, eating proper meals is obviously important to give us the correct energy our bodies need to function.

But why exactly does the hot weather make it harder to eat, and what can we do about it?

Natasha Evans, a registered nutritional therapist, specialising in digestion and fertility, explains that our bodies work to maintain balance, otherwise known as ‘homeostasis’.

‘With regards to temperature, this is referred to as thermoregulation,’ she explains. 

‘Our bodies are much hotter during a heatwave, and they work hard to keep us cool, with sweating and decreased movement.’

Why your appetite decreases in hot weather

‘Eating and digesting food increases our body temperature, so our bodies normally want less food when it’s hot,’ Natasha explains.

‘Think about a time when you’ve eaten a meal in the heat, and you suddenly feel even hotter, start flushing and sweating. This is due to the thermic effect of food and our bodies subsequently trying to cool us down.

‘Essentially, our hunger tends to decrease, as our bodies natural way of keeping our body temperature in check.’

Natasha also notes that research suggests our insulin sensitivity also improves during the warmer months, ‘which means more balanced blood sugar, less snacking and fewer cravings’.

‘Our bodies naturally crave hot food during the colder months and cooler, fresher, lighter food during the summer months,’ she adds.

‘But this isn’t actually true for everyone,’ explains BANT registered nutritional therapist Eva Humphries. ‘A study completed in Tel Aviv noted that men exposed to sunlight experienced increases in food-seeking behaviour, including greater appetite.’

What time of day should we be eating?

While Eva states that ‘the best time to eat is when you are hungry’. Makes sense.

She does acknowledge that eating at cooler times of the day, such as the morning and evening or grazing through the day rather than eating larger meals, may help to ‘mitigate the thermogenic effects of food’.

However, our experts warn against eating late into the evening.

‘Fats and proteins digest at a slower rate than carbohydrates,’ explains Eva. ‘So if you happen to be eating late at night and it’s a protein-heavy meal, it may disrupt your sleep.

‘As such, if you prefer to eat later, meals with more carbs and less protein may help.’

Natasha also explains that eating a very big dinner close to bedtime can increase body temperature.

Water

Natasha also warns that dehydration can also affect our digestion, ‘by slowing down bowel movements, so remember – hydration is key.’

‘Aim for 2L a day (more if you exercise),’ she says. ‘We’ll be losing extra water through sweat, so it’s important to stay as hydrated as possible. 

Keep some water close to your bed in case you get thirsty at night. It might be worth adding some extra electrolytes to your water as well to improve hydration. 

‘We also get 20-20% of our fluid intake from food, particularly fruits & vegetables, which can be particularly hydrating, so make sure you’re still packing those into your meals,’ she adds.

‘Finally, there is such a thing as too much water – drinking too much can flush out nutrients and be bad for the kidneys. So, drink when you’re thirsty but don’t overdo it!’

Sipping water throughout the day, particularly at meal times, will help our hydration and digestion. It will also help keep us cool and allow us to get our water intake safely.



Best products to help you beat the heat

Shopping: This factbox contains affiliate links. We will earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links but this never influences our experts’ opinions. Products are tested and reviewed independently of commercial initiatives.

Please note that prices were correct at the time of writing, but may have since changed.

Dr Sam’s Flawless Daily Sunscreen

dr sam's sunscreen

You need a decent sunscreen, and this one is great (Picture: Dr Sam’s)

Buy it for £29 from Dr Sam’s

Stackable Ice Lolly Moulds

Multi coloured ice lolly moulds

Ice lollies are a summer staple (Picture: Amazon)

Get the set for £24.48 at Amazon.

Portable air conditioner

Portable air conditioner

Full-size air conditioners can be expensive – but this is a cost-effective solution (Picture: Amazon)

Get it for £43.99 at Amazon.

Pro Breeze Oscillating 40-inch Tower Fan

Pro Breeze Oscillating 40-inch Tower Fan

This powerful fan has loads of cool features, including a remote control and eco settings to reduce energy consumption overnight (Picture: Amazon)

Reduced from £99.99 to £79.99 at Amazon now.

Elegear Cooling Blanket for Night Sweats

Elegear Cooling Blanket for Night Sweats

It’s far too hot for a duvet, and this hypoallergenic blanket is made with special fibres to wick sweat and regulate your temperature as you snooze (Picture: Amazon)

Get it for £32.99 at Amazon now.

Ergoflex 5G mattress

Ergoflex mattress

A mattress that works to keep you cool at night? We’re sold (Picture: Ergoflex)

Buy it for £445, down from £809 from Ergoflex

Kookaburra Waterproof Garden Sun Shade Canopy

Kookaburra Waterproof Garden Sun Shade Sail Canopy in Ivory 98% UV Block

If your garden is a sun trap, this cools the area and protects from 98% of UV rays (Picture: Amazon)

Reduced from £89.95 to £74.98 at Amazon now.

Black and Decker Portable 3-in-1 Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier, and Cooling Fan

Portable 3-in-1 Air Conditioner, Cooling Fan,

It’s an investment buy, but with 9000 BTU cooling capacity and an Air Filtration system, you’ll be glad you bit the bullet if you run warm (Picture: Amazon)

Reduced from £399.99 to £372 at Amazon now.

SIMIYA 3 Pack Seamless Anti Chafing Boy Shorts

SIMIYA 3 Pack Women Long Briefs Anti Chafing Boy Shorts

If your thighs rub together and chafe in the heat, these will be a summer saviour (Picture: Amazon)

Reduced from £25.99 to £19.99 at Amazon now.

KLIM Wind Laptop Cooling Pad

KLIM Wind - Laptop Cooling Pad - The Most Powerful Rapid Action Cooling Fan - Laptop Stand with 4 Cooling Fans

Four cooling fans mean your laptop won’t overheat when the mercury rises (Picture: Amazon)

Get it for £24.97 Amazon now.

4 in 1 Quiet Portable Air Cooler

4 in 1 Portable Air Cooler

Use this as a small desk fan, evaporative air cooler, air humidifier, and night light (Picture: Amazon)

Get it for £42.99 at Amazon now.

Luxear Cooling Pillowcases 2 Pack

Luxear Cooling Pillowcases 2 Pack

Arc-Chill TOUCH Technology absorbs and dissipates heat, which helps improve quality of sleep (Picture: Amazon)

Reduced from £16.99 to £12.99 at Amazon now.

RATEL USB Table Fan

RATEL USB Table Fan

Use in the car or at your desk for a fresh breeze (Picture: Amazon)

Reduced from £19.99 to £15.99 at Amazon now.

Self-cooling mat for pets

Picture of two dogs on the self-cooling mat

Pets need to be cooled down too (Picture: Amazon)

Get it for £10.95 at Amazon.

Jumbo inflatable pool

Jumbo inflatable school

Inflatable fun to make the most of your garden (Picture: Amazon)

Get it for £34.99 at Amazon.

Cooling towels

Cooling towels

Stay chilled for up to 3 hours (Picture: Amazon)

Get a set of six towels for £20.99 at Amazon.

However, when the rising mercury becomes more irritating than enjoyable, reach for these items for some sweet relief.

Pro Breeze Turbo Desk Fan

portable fan

Cool down quickly without noise with this whisper-quite desk fan (Picture: Amazon)

Get it for £59.99 at Amazon.

Misting sports bottle

Blue misting sports bottle

Mist in the heat while you stay hydrated (Picture: Amazon)

Get it for £16.37 at Amazon.

Retro Pineapple Ice Bucket

Pineapple ice cooler

Cool your drinks in style (Picture: Amazon)

Get it for £29.93 at Amazon.

Chillmax Pillow cooling gel insert

Blue cooling mat

Say goodbye to night sweats by placing this over your pillow before you sleep (Picture: Amazon)

Get it for £9.95 at Amazon.

Duronic ice cream maker

Ice cream maker

Nothing better than an ice cream on a hot day – especially when it’s homemade (Picture: Amazon)

Get it for £33.99 at Amazon.

onaEz Cooling Sleep Mask

Blue Cooling eye mask

Cool for 20 minutes for cold therapy – it’s also great for relieving the pain of tension headaches (Picture: Amazon)

Get it for £15.99 at Amazon.

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