Christmas and the New Year are holidays with overeating that many of us cannot control. This often leads to the “festive bulge”. As the holidays approach, is there a recipe for containing that weight gain and paving the way to sustainable nutrition-based health?
We focus a lot on what we eat and how much we eat – but what about when we eat?
Chrononutrition is the science of how timing affects our responses to nutrients. Scientific knowledge in the moment we eat suggest that it may be worth exploring for better health.
While the idea of launching chrononutrition at Christmas may seem difficult, the guilty conscience that tends to follow the feasts during the holidays can provide the necessary motivation for the year ahead.
So, for better health in the new year, why not try time-restricted eating (TRE)? TRE is a type of intermittent fasting: a person eats all of their meals and snacks within a set amount of time, ranging from six to 12 hours a day. This involves 12 to 18 hours of fasting.
A growing body of research suggests that this type of timing can have a significant influence on our health via interactions between our body clocks and nutrition.
As researchers specializing in circadian biology, we have identified the holiday season as a suitable starting point for a lifestyle change towards time-restricted eating.
What is chrononutrition?
The basic idea of chrononutrition is that the body’s response to mealtimes can promote well-being and health via the circadian synchronization system. This timing system refers to the internal 24-hour mechanism that prepares our body for the challenges and stimuli of the 24-hour day. This includes when nutrients are likely to be consumed, how they are used in the body at any given time, and how the body responds to them at any given time.
A rodent experiment in 1930s led to a focus on calorie counting and calorie restricted eating. This dietary restriction extended the lifespan of the rats in this case. It was later shown in a wide range of species. The promise is great: if you eat less, weight loss, better health and a longer life can follow.
The rodent experiment was followed by research into diets that promote health and prevent disease. interest in “meal times, circadian rhythms and lifespan” was sparked by Franz Halberg (known as the father of American chronobiology), among others, in the 1980s.
These studies on food and behavior take evolutionary considerations into account. For example, rodents gain health when fed in a time-limited manner. In contrast, human behavior tends to involve more erratic eating habits during the hours when people are awake.
So what practical advice can we give on the occasion of Christmas and New Year’s 2017 Nobel Prize-winning field of chronobiology? The field has been recognized for discoveries about how internal clocks organize our physiology and allow us to live in harmony with the external rhythms of day and night.
The results in this domain point to a simple lifestyle change: limiting the time you eat to eight to 10 o’clock a day could protect you from developing obesity, or even lessen the negative health effects of existing obesity. And time-restricted feeding can work even if it’s only practiced for five days a week.
It’s important to note that if you can reduce a typical long feeding window (say, 15 hours) to a time-restricted feeding window of eight hours, you’ll likely benefit more than someone reducing a window. usual feeding from 10 a.m. to 8 a.m. Reductions in meal time windows have already been found to help some overweight people lose weight, sleep better and feel more energetic.
Admittedly, most of the evidence comes from animal studies – and humans are certainly not big mice. However, there have been no reports of harm to this practice in humans. However, there has been a report possible harms to offspring in a pregnant animal model of time-restricted feeding.
Late breakfast and early dinner
Why not try what some studies suggest and start eating time limited at Christmasor put it on your list of New Year’s resolutions?
For starters, consider having a late breakfast and an early dinner. Of course, if in doubt about the impact of time-restricted eating – or if you have any medical or dietary restrictions, or are pregnant – speak to your doctor first for advice.
Beyond paying attention to calorie intake and food composition, “when you eat” is a relatively simple and potentially sustainable approach.