“Meal times have more effect on circadian rhythm than dark and light cycles,” Dr. Panda says. And circadian rhythm in turn affects the function of many genes in the body that are known to involve metabolism.
Also known as intermittent fasting, the idea of restricting eating to a smaller portion of the day has always been part of my healthy weight loss program.
Here are 2 simple strategies that work:
- eat dinner earlier, and do not eat after dinner, leaving at least 3 hours between dinner and bedtime
- leave at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast (8 of which you should be asleep!)
However, I need to also convey some concerns about this approach.
Many of us, and particularly women, easily fall down the rabbit hole of thinking that if not eating for 12 hours is good, not eating for 14, or 16 or 18 is even better…. It is NOT. Particularly if you have a damaged metabolism, it is NOT good to skip or delay breakfast too long in the morning.
If you do, you will experience an increase in cortisol and other stress hormones, and you know what happens then, right? More stored belly fat, the exact opposite of what you want for weight loss, or for health.
Some very knowledgeable health bloggers, including some I respect, like Dave Asprey, recommend intermittent fasting. But it doesn’t work well for someone with a damaged metabolism (often called a “slow metabolism”, a misnomer), and it definitely doesn’t work the same for women as it does for men. Women will often gain fat when they try intermittent fasting, particularly if they push themselves to go longer in the morning without eating, i.e. skipping breakfast altogether (and sometimes lunch too).
This is a slippery slope for many of us, as we can start feeling “virtuous” about not eating, and thinking we are doing well, even as we are breaking our body down and destroying our metabolism even more. The diet mentality has made us all a bit crazy, but it is NOT the way to get healthy or to lose weight.
On the other hand, it is very beneficial to eliminate night-time eating. If you need something after dinner, have a cup of herbal tea, with stevia or xylitol if you crave something sweet.
In the morning, you can delay your breakfast a bit with a healthy-fat-laden cup of Bulletproof coffee, but for most of us, it is still important to have breakfast within the first hour of being up in the morning. This sound approach helps to heal the metabolism and balance our hormones, for the best start to the day.
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