Oct 10, 2023 - Health

5 o'clock dinner isn't just for seniors

Dinner reservation times in the U.S.
Data: Resy; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

More Americans — some who continue to work remotely — are making earlier dinner reservations: 5 p.m. early.

Why it matters: Eating dinner early could benefit your metabolic health, experts say.

By the numbers: 5 p.m. dinner reservations are more popular now than they've been in the last five years, according to data Resy shared with Axios.

  • More than 15% of Resy reservations were made during the 5 o'clock hour this year. That time slot has seen the biggest jump — more than 2% — compared to 2019.
  • And reservations made for the 8 o'clock and 9 o'clock hours have declined a combined 2% compared to 2019.

What they're saying: "Limit[ing] your calorie intake close to bedtime" — about three to four hours before bed — could help with blood sugar control and weight management, says Frank Scheer, Harvard Medical School professor and Medical Chronobiology Program director.

  • "When we delay the food intake and keep everything else the same, that by itself leads to an increase in cravings, changes in appetite hormones and fewer calories burnt across the waking hours," said Scheer, who's conducted research around mealtime and metabolic health.
  • The reason is likely connected to the circadian clock, which reduces the energy we burn after a meal in the evening, he says.

If you have to eat something right before bed, though, some experts advise going for a small nutritious snack, like fruit or yogurt.

Meanwhile, it's not just dinners that are happening at 5 p.m. — so are workouts.

  • According to Future fitness app data from April to June 2023, 5 p.m. was the most popular time to start a workout among a sample of 20,000 users.
  • That's a major shift from 2019, when the app's most popular workout start time was before 7 a.m. — possibly ahead of a work commute.

Zoom out: The shift to eating and exercising while the sun's still out appears to be part of a larger trend to prioritize work-life balance and sleep over hustle culture.

Go deeper: Pros and cons of intermittent fasting

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