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5 Tips for Eating in Sync with your Circadian Rhythm

We’ve always known that what and how much to eat are crucial aspects to losing weight and getting healthy – but what about when to eat?

Some recent research suggests that weight loss is more than just calories in-calories out. One study found that individuals who ate large breakfasts and small dinners lost more weight than people who skimped on breakfast and ate big dinners. Another study found similar results – people who ate their biggest meal before 3:00pm each day lost more weight than those who ate more after 3:00pm.

In both studies, the participants ate the same number of calories each day, but the ones who ate the bulk of their food in the morning or mid day lost more weight than the groups that ate more at night. But why?

Enter… circadian rhythms.

Circadian rhythms are our bodies’ master clocks, affecting everything from sleep/wake cycles, to metabolism and blood sugar control. Because of circadian rhythms, the way our body metabolizes and processes food changes throughout the day. By eating in accordance with these natural metabolism shifts, we can maximize our weight loss efforts. Here are five tips to get you started:

  • Eat a hearty breakfast within 1-2 hours of waking. Aim for around 300 calories and look for sources of protein and fiber.
    • Oatmeal with low-fat milk and 1 oz nuts
    • 2 egg omelette with vegetables and piece of fruit
    • Whole grain toast with mashed avocado and 1 egg
    • Greek yogurt with fruit
  • Have a lunch that is bigger than dinner. Try eating dinner off a salad plate to keep portions small.
    • Be consistent. Try to eat at similar times each day to train your body clock.
    • Eat every 3-5 hours. This will help you from getting overly hungry between meals which tends to lead to overeating later.
    • Avoid nighttime eating. Try to cut-off eating around 7:00 or 8:00pm each night. A good rule? If it’s dark out, don’t eat!

Now don’t get me wrong, the what and how much to eat, are still the backbone of a healthy diet, but when to eat certainly seems to be another piece of the puzzle. So, when should we eat? This research tells us that earlier is better. Instead of meeting friends out for a big dinner, try one of these healthy brunch spots, and keep your meals light later in the day.