Your diet relies on a healthy circadian rhythm

16 Oct 2019

We all know that snacking in the middle of the night is most likely not the healthiest or best way to keep a diet in the right direction. But how many of us are actually aware that this is very much to do with your circadian rhythm?

Say hello to the latest research and insight into how circadian rhythms control our weight gain and loss and how in fact we should be adjusting our intake and what we eat according to the times of the day. It only makes sense that if light intake sends signals to our circadian rhythm mechanism to either make us energised or prepare us for sleep, that our metabolic system would too be affected by this dial.

A recent study done by the Univesity of Manchester found that when food is taken at a different time the insulin release is also seen at a “wrong” time. This can throw the body clock out of rhythm and affect weight loss and gain. Which means that according to the study, what you eat is certainly not the only factor on weight fluctuation at all.

To get our bodies functioning at their best, and particularly in relation to our metabolism, professor Satchin Panda, a leading expert in circadian rhythms research and the author of The Circadian Code, believes we should all be keeping up with at least a 10-hour eating window throughout the day, which in turn allows for a minimum 14-hour fast during the dark hours (or whenever it is during your 24-hour cycle that you sleep).

“If you look around at anything that moves in our daily life, they all revolve around timing,” says Panda, who often cites the rise and fall of the sun as a good, foolproof example. “And yet, we schedule every [meal] in our life around school, work, appointments, phone calls.” This pattern of eating, which for the average person lasts well over 15 hours and can go past dark, when the brain should release melatonin in preparation for sleep, is directly at odds with our biological clocks – leading to weight gain and loss that has truly nothing to do with the actual food we are eating.

During the deep sleep period that is associated with a 14-hour cleansing window, the brain produces a growth hormone that is meant to repair both the gut lining and the skin lining. In fact, according to Panda, “every 10 to 15 days, we should have a completely new layer of skin.” And in order for this process to function at its optimal state, you need to allow the body to fully repair itself. According to Panda, “Just like you can’t repair a highway when the traffic is flowing, you can’t eat two to three hours before bedtime.”

So next time you plan your diet out and what you plan to eat to maintain a healthy wellbeing, think about the times you will eat and not just what food it is.