Have you ever found yourself working late and missing dinner, only to chow down on a pizza at 10pm?
Or maybe you only had time to grab a couple of snacks through the day, which led to a bit of a binge around dinner time?
Me too...and usually the next day I wake up feeling like I have an actual hangover.
Most of us know that late night snacks aren’t the best choice for our bodies. And there’s new evidence that when we eat may be even more important than we previously thought.
You may have already heard about shift workers being more prone to obesity, diabetes, and hypertension because of irregular sleeping patterns which also lead to irregular eating patterns.
New research is emerging showing why poorly-timed eating can seriously affect our metabolism -- and it has to do with a close connection between our digestive systems and our circadian rhythms.
Dr. Satchin Panda brings this to light in his new book, The Circadian Code: Lose Weight, Supercharge Your Energy, and Transform Your Health from Morning to Midnight.
It turns out that our organs have a certain time of day which they automatically “switch off” to rest.
If we eat outside of these peak time zones, which are basically correlated with natural light and sleeping patterns, our bodies’ systems get confused.
Research done by Dr. Panda and others all point to the very high probability that “time-restricted feeding” is the healthiest for us all.
Based on his own research (as well as plenty of other studies), he recommends that we stick to 3 meals a day (no "grazing) through an 8-hour time window, with more calorie consumption in the morning and afternoon.
How does he know?
An experiment conducted by Dr. Panda involved two groups of mice who had the same genes and at the same number of calories.
One group was able to access high fat/sugar foods around the clock, the other ate during restricted time windows only.
Not surprisingly, the mice eating around the clock showed signs of fatty liver and metabolic disease, whereas the other group were healthy.
Building on prior research that shows eating earlier is certainly better for metabolism, weight loss and health, Dr. Panda's studies show that our organs essentially have their own built-in “clocks.”
The clocks are tied to our natural circadian rhythms and governed by genes which “switch off” automatically at a certain time of day.
Research shows that eating a lot early in the day is the best option for managing blood sugar levels and weight. This makes sense, since we move around more and burn more calories through the day.
Everything associated with our digestive systems -- enzymes, nutrient absorption, hormones, waste, blood sugar, and beneficial bacteria -- also affects our brains.
If we aren't letting our organs -- including our brains and digestive systems -- rest when they need to, we end up with a sort of “digestive jet lag.”
Remembering that natural circadian rhythms are not only about sleeping patterns, and honouring the rest requirements of every part of our body, could just work wonders for our health.
So how do we get in more calories first thing if we're not particularly hungry in the morning?
Some experts recommend getting 30 grams of protein in the morning -- that’s a lot!
If you’re like me and you don’t like eating a lot of food for breakfast, consider an all-natural whey protein powder to add to your morning smoothies.
Questions or comments? Join the discussion below!