When You Eat Is Also Important, Not Just What You Eat

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You are motivated and disciplined, you’re diligent about tracking your food and you work on hitting your weight goals, but you’ve hit a plateau along the way. If that is the case, you should know that it’s not just about what you eat, but when you eat matters too.

In order to improve weight loss and boost your athletic performance, you should consider meal timing, because it is a factor that could have an effect on circadian rhythms.

Our rhythm is determined by factors such as hormone release, hunger signals, digestion, cell regeneration, sleepiness, waking up, body temperature and you should know that every living being, from humans to bacteria, has a cycle that’s about 24 hours, and this cycle helps determine sleep and eating patterns, among many other functions.

Your digestive system has its own circadian rhythm

Did you know that the digestive system has its own circadian system? You may be subject to effects like weight gain, digestive upset and cravings for high-calorie foods when it gets thrown off.

Eating an early dinner and refraining from eating again until morning — may help keep your circadian rhythm going strong according to some research. Participants who had the majority of their calories before 3 p.m. saw improvements in insulin sensitivity, blood pressure and oxidative stress as was shown by one study.

Women with metabolic syndrome were asked to follow a 1,400-calorie diet, with one group eating most of those calories at breakfast and lunch, and the other group having at least half of that caloric intake at dinner as stated in another study. After three months, the first group’s participants lost an average of 19 pounds, and the second group only about 8 pounds each — despite everyone eating the exact same number of calories.

The routine is important – Establish one

Emily Tills, RDN, of Nourished with Emily suggests considering changing your meal times to see what kind of effect that might have for you. She adds:” establishing consistency in terms of an eating schedule can be important for clicking with your own circadian rhythm.”

“It’s not true that everything you eat after 7 p.m. turns into fat, but the timing of meals, as well as sleep, can have an effect,” says Tills. “Our bodies like routine, so if we can start to make a more rigid eating schedule, and stick to it seven days a week, we may be able to see better results.”

Build your strategy

If you’re skimping on nutritious foods having the majority of calories earlier in the day, or maybe trying intermittent fasting as well — will have limited effect.

Just as you track your food, jotting down when you eat and the effect it has in other ways — like energy levels, sleep and mood — can be useful for seeing how your habits affect each other, advises registered dietitian Kristen Smith, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

It’s easier in time to adapt to an eating routine. Build your strategy and take your digestive circadian system into account.

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