​How long before bed should you stop eating?

Summer has finally arrived and that means it is time to build that beach body.

With the extended daylight hours and the perfect weather for outings, many people find themselves still eating and drinking late at night.

But how long before bed should you stop eating?

To ensure your body effectively digest the food, you should not go to bed within three hours after having a large meal.

This is not saying you should not eat or drink after a certain time. If you are staying up late and you had your last meal more than four hours ago, you can opt for a healthy and light snack, such as a piece of fruit, to stop your stomach from rumbling.

Drinking water is always encouraged. However, drinking excessive water at night could result in puffiness on the face and body and a full bladder will wake you up during the night.

We often hear things like “you should not eat after 6pm” and “eating before bed will keep you up all night”. But are these sayings true?

The reality is, if you tend to go to bed early, eating after 6pm might interfere with your digestion.

Think about the three-hour rule, if you had a large meal at 6pm and is going to hit the sack at 8:30pm, much of the meal has not yet been digested. Lying down is certainly not the ideal position for a healthy digestion. (READ: 'The Best Sleeping Position to Aid Digestion')

It is recommended that you go for a walk after a heavy dinner, which can assist with speeding up your metabolism.

Will eating before bed keep you up all night?

Nutrition and health expert Joy Bauer says consuming certain food and drinks at night can indeed decrease your sleep quality.

Caffeinated and sugary drinks and food, including coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate, should be avoided several hours before bed.

According to Joy Bauer, caffeine can activate the central nervous system and give you brain a restless night.

Some people might choose to consume alcohol to help them fall asleep faster, but the relaxing effect often wear off very soon so they may wake up in the middle of the night.

Joy Bauer also says alcohol-induced sleep will become less restful over time and the person will feel sleepy during the day. So do not use alcohol as a sleeping pill.

So what can you consume in the few hours leading to bed?

Ms Bauer recommends serotonin-producing snacks. Serotonin helps you feel calm and sleepy.

Serotonin-producing food includes low-fat dairy and fruits such as apples and grapes.

A bedtime snack should not be worth more than 200 calories, otherwise it would still take a while to digest.

Should you skip dinner to lose weight?

For people who want to lose a few kilograms for the perfect summer body, skipping dinner might seem a quick way to do it.

But all three meals are important for human’s daily activities and nutrition. Skipping dinner might help you get rid of some weight in the short run, but it is not healthy in the long term.

Not eating dinner means it will be more than 12 hours before your next meal and when you eat after long hours of an empty stomach, your body is more likely to turn the food into fat because it needs to make up for what was lost during the time you were not eating.

Your sleep quality will also be affected when your stomach keeps rumbling throughout the night.

So the healthiest way to lose weight is to eat food with less sugar and fat and exercise regularly.