You’re probably familiar with biological clocks—the circadian rhythm that sends out chemical signals at certain times of the day to help you wake, sleep and do other activities. Well, you also have a food clock.
Studies in animals and humans have found that eating out of sync with your internal clock is associated with weight gain and chronic disease. Because of this, it’s important to eat in a way that aligns your food patterns with your internal clock. This is called chrono-nutrition, and it entails following these three guidelines:
1. Limit your eating to when the sun shines: About a 12-hour window, or even shorter.
2. Eat more in the morning and midday and less later on.
3. Eat consistently and automatically from day to day.
The world is full of contradictions, and our bodies have them too—like how our stomachs are hungriest at night, but our bodies adapt better when we eat early. Our brains also crave novelty. What’s different makes us excited, and what makes us excited floods our brain with feel-good hormones.
But here’s the catch: Our bodies don’t want that randomized style of eating. Our bodies want consistency. That provides quite a tug-of-war in your brain and body. But you will be better off if you can get into a steady rhythm with your eating habits.
The purpose of circadian rhythm is to optimize your energy balance. It works by priming the body to be ready for certain activities to occur at the right time. Keeping the size of meals consistent from day to day will help align your eating with your circadian rhythm.
One interesting study showed that people who vary their calorie intake from day to day are more likely to have metabolic syndrome (a condition that results in higher blood pressure and blood sugar), as well as an increased waist circumference. Another study found that irregular eating led to increased insulin resistance and higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Try to keep all of your meals and snacks the same size, and eat them at the same time each day. This will save you from making bad decisions. Plan ahead, keep it simple and choose what you love and what loves you back. You’ll be on the path to more healthful eating in no time!
gorillaimages / Shutterstock.com