Absolutely. But it depends too since you can eat at different times for different purposes.
By far the most common reason to think about changing when you eat is to lose weight, and time of day does matter to an extent.
Remember that to lose weight you have to focus on your body’s insulin sensitivity and that means NOT eating or grazing throughout the day, but eating all of your food within a shorter period of time. They say that a 6 hour compressed window is adequate.
That means eating all of your calories in 2 meals a day, say during lunch and dinner, instead of 3.
The science is now saying that the best time to do this is actually in the morning, between 6 and noon. So you’d eat all your day’s food during breakfast and lunch with the reason being that we are more insulin sensitive in the morning and can process our food better, especially our carbs.
So that’s the answer … BUT … it’s also highly impractical for most people so the likelihood of anyone sticking to that for any length of time is low.
And besides, eating your calories later on in the day (12-6pm) instead of earlier on doesn’t make that much of a difference when you’re trying to lose weight. The benefits are small or even negligible. It’s kind of like when your aunt May insists on driving 45 minutes out of the way (and back) to save 5 bucks. She may have saved money but won’t be buying a mansion anytime soon.
So when it comes to losing weight, time of day doesn’t matter as much as how much time of the day does eating take place.
ENERGY & HEALTH
It used to be said that breakfast was the most important meal of the day until the lie was exposed.
Now it may not be the most important, but when it comes to your health it seems that it is “optimal” to eat all of your food during the earlier part of the day. In part for the insulin sensitivity reason above and also because it’s better for us to sleep on an empty stomach. With less food to digest we sleep deeply and with less interruptions.
However … some people have a difficult time sleeping on an empty stomach feeling wide awake and full of energy. And speaking of, the time of day we eat affects how energetic we feel too.
Most people prefer to eat lighter during the day so that they have the energy to carry out all of the tasks they have ahead of them and then eat a larger dinner, when they are ready to slow down and unwind. Drifting off to sleep is much easier this way and so it wouldn’t be worth it to re-arrange their whole routine, losing yards to gain a foot.
THE SOCIAL ASPECT
On top of health and weight loss, there is another side to this and that is spending time with people.
Again we are more likely to sit down together at the table and eat after the day is done. And though we can’t measure the impact on our health of that tradition scientifically, we do know that it does us a lot of good.
Eating together and talking helps to regulate anxiety, allows us to connect more, reinforces the idea of our importance (we get a place at the table and we get to be heard), helps us eat better and digest better too. In other words, eating socially is a BIG DEAL and bestows many benefits that are not worth discarding just to gain an advantage in some other area.
So when asking if the time of day matters when eating, the answer is that it depends on what’s good for you.