Eat whatever you want, just not whenever you want.
You’ve heard of the Circadian Rhythm, right? It’s that thing that makes us tired at night and alert during the day. That’s what I thought until I learned so much more from Satchin Panda, PhD. and his latest book the Circadian Code. Not only is it about going to sleep and waking up, but it’s about aligning with your internal clocks to improve your overall health.
It turns out that limiting your food and caloric intake for 8-10 hours of each 24 hour period, you can improve your metabolic health, digestive health, avoid diabetes, lose weight, lower blood pressure and fight off heart disease.
The research for these claims is only growing. At the Salk Institute, Panda’s lab is currently conducting a study with a new app called My Circadian Clock. You download the app, take photos of what you eat throughout the day and after 2 weeks, they send you a report. They found that most people eat within a 15 hour period even though they believed they were 10-12 hours. Participants didn’t account for their morning coffee or their last glass of wine or snack in the evening.
In 2012, Panda and his lab did a study with 2 groups of mice being fed high-fat and high-sugar foods. One of the groups had access to the food 24 hours each day while the other group was limited to eating within an 8 hour period. Both groups were given the same amount of food, but the group on the TRE, time restricted eating, were protected from metabolic disease, obesity, fatty liver, and more.
Other studies have been done, one particular study of note was actually on men with pre-diabetes. They were prescribed a TRE of 12 hours or less. They all showed lower insulin levels, reduced oxidative stress, less nighttime hunger and lower blood pressure.
What can you do to align better with your circadian rhythm? All it takes is a few simple steps. Simple, but not necessarily easy.
TRE – Time Restricted Eating
Keep all your caloric intake, including morning coffee, evening wine, and late night snacks, to a minimum of 12 hours each day. If you can get it all in within an 8 hour period your benefits will be much higher. Keeping your intake within a short amount of time will only improve your benefits. I’ve found that 12 hours is fairly easy, 10 sometimes takes a bit more work and 8 is very difficult.
Stop the Blue Light at Night
Sleep is by far, one of the best ways to reset your internal clocks. Science shows that we all should be sleeping at least 7 hours each night, but as we know that isn’t always possible. A few tips to help are to either turn off all electronics a few hours before bedtime or begin using amber light on your screens and in your home. Melatonin production begins in the early evening to prepare you for a good night sleep. Avoid anything that will stimulate your nervous system after that time.
Get Daylight Exposure During the Day
Another way to align your internal clocks is to get more light exposure during the day. Many of us only get daylight to and from work, but being outside will help keep you in a rhythm and allow a healthy production of cortisol and insulin levels throughout the day. Your body will know when to be alert and when to get ready for bed.
We are all an experiment of one, so I believe it’s important to find what works for you. As an endurance athlete, I’m always aware of what I’m putting in my body and how it’s affecting me. A lot of the suggestions above work for me, but don’t take my word for it, try them on your own and see how they work. Good luck and of course, please let me know if you need some help along the way!
Originally published on the author’s website.