Rule 3. Eating chronotype


Rule 3. Eating chronotype

Food chronotype is the time of day when people prefer to eat most of their calories. Scientists have found that the work of the digestive system is closely connected with the system of our circadian rhythm. Not only does the brain work as our central clock (a particular part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus) but also the liver, muscles, gastrointestinal tract, and white adipose tissue work as a peripheral clock, controlling the work of the digestive system.

The production of hormones, insulin sensitivity and the metabolic activity of the liver change at different times of the day. In the process of evolution, the organism and its work have adapted to the day-night cycle. The activity of many genes changes in the circadian rhythm.

Ideally, the eating window should coincide with daylight hours and the time of the most significant activity of the person. The greater the divergence between the time of the eating window and the daylight hours, the greater the problems. Consume at least 80 percent of daily calories in the morning and afternoon. The distribution of calories between breakfast, dinner, and supper in the ratio of 50 percent, 30 percent, and 20 percent contributes to better health. Scientific studies have shown that the same food eaten at different times of the day acts differently. Late, large suppers can increase the level of systemic inflammation, diabetes, and tumors and impair the quality of sleep.

How did the problem arise?

Delayed way of living. With the presence of artificial light, work in the morning, and rest in the evening, our schedule of activity is gradually shifting to later hours, the so-called delayed way of living. In the morning we rush to work and skip breakfast, and in the evening, we eat a lot. Artificial lighting, especially LED light, blocks the production of melatonin, slows the work of the internal clock and disrupts appetite. The later you eat dinner, the less hungry you are at breakfast time, and a vicious circle is formed.

Nightly pleasures. Food during the hours of darkness brings us more joy. This aspect is associated with the brain’s receptors of melatonin and dopamine. At night, the dopamine receptors are more sensitive, leading to an eclair being tastier. Films and TV are more attractive depending on how late they are. Therefore, people unconsciously get addicted to late shows. The less joy and pleasure they have during the day, the more they want to prolong their evening pleasures. We should live in the evening. Often a shift in the eating window leads to the night eating syndrome: people eat well in the late evening and into the night when they can hardly resist the rising impulse of hunger and temptation.

How does it affect health?

They impaired carbohydrate metabolism. The important hormone insulin and the night hormone melatonin interact closely. Normally, melatonin and insulin levels are in a reciprocal relationship and if you have an evening attack with food and light, your metabolism will definitely have problems. Indeed, high insulin can cut the level of melatonin and prevent its secretion. A decrease in melatonin and the decreased duration of sleep over time will reduce insulin sensitivity.

Insulin sensitivity. Good insulin sensitivity is associated with better health. In humans, the circadian rhythm regulates insulin sensitivity and decreases it in the evening and at night. This process is connected not only with our central clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus, but also with the peripheral clock of the liver, muscles, pancreas, and adipose tissue.

In the morning and the afternoon, the insulin sensitivity is at its height, but by the evening, it decreases both in adipose and muscle tissues and in the liver. Those who consume a third or more of their daily calories after 1800 have higher blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin (a glycemic control marker), higher insulin, and a higher risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.

Combining a substantial breakfast and a light supper helps to control the level of glucose in the blood better compared to the combination of a light breakfast and a hearty supper. The insulin and glucose levels in the experimental groups differed by 20 percent.

Systemic inflammation and tumors. The higher the insulin level and systemic inflammation, the higher the cancer risk. Scientists have found that eating late in the evening increases the risk of breast cancer. Every other three hours that we do not eat until midnight, we cut glycated hemoglobin by 20 percent. On the contrary, every 10 percent of calories eaten after 17.00 increases inflammation (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein) by 3 percent.

Other problems and diseases. Eating late increases the risks of obesity, sarcopenia (the loss of skeletal muscles), eating disorders, depression, and anxiety disorders. However, the early eating window reduces the level of oxidative stress and an evening appetite! Consuming before sleep impairs the work of growth hormone (STH), which is associated with nocturnal autophagy (cellular self-cleaning). The more eating at night, the worse the sleep and recovery.

Basic principles

Move the eating window to the daytime. It’s good for your health to shift the eating window to an earlier hour by synchronizing the eating schedule and daily biorhythms. Eating is ideal when you have a high blood level of cortisol, the hormone of activity and stress, and the lowest level of melatonin, the sleep hormone. By shifting the eating window, we synchronize our circadian rhythms and control appetite and hunger better. During the daylight hours, the body has a better insulin sensitivity, so the food we eat is better absorbed and it reduces the risk of obesity and other health problems.

This method has different names such as early Time-Restricted Feeding (eTRF), which is early feeding with a limited time. Traditionally, some practices use a similar shift in the eating window to keep up clarity of mind. Buddhist monks are allowed to eat only until 12.00 am.

Avoid meals before sleep. Some people habitually drink Horlicks or milk for a good rest. Avoid this; no more meals before bedtime.

Rearrangement of calories. Keeping the previous regimen, do without supper and increase the calorie content and the volume of breakfast and dinner. For many people, dinner is the most important meal, so make sure it is substantial to keep up satiety but cut the calorie intake. To do this, add more low-calorie foods: greens, raw vegetables, and boiled vegetables. Add fats to stimulate the release of the cholecystokinin hormone, which maintains a feeling of satiety. For some people, proteins may also be nourishing but if you sleep poorly, avoid them for supper. Studies have shown that shifting calories from supper to breakfast while maintaining the meal times is an effective strategy.

Directly move the eating window. Shift breakfast and supper time simultaneously by half an hour to an hour earlier. Do not go to extremes. A shift of even an hour is beneficial and will improve sleep. For us, the common purpose will be a smooth shift and change in your regimen using the following sequence:

· do not eat before bedtime

· do not eat two hours before bedtime

· do not eat three hours before bedtime

· do not eat four hours before bedtime (you can reach five, but four hours is enough for the normal functioning of all hormones).

Example. You have breakfast at 1100, supper at 2100, and go to bed at 2300. You can gradually shift your eating window in such a way: 1000–2000, 900–1900, 0800–1800. This way, you will have to move your time of waking up and going to sleep.

The goal can be reached as follows: to finish the last meal before 16.00, but it’s also realistic and reasonable to finish it before 17.00 and even the classic does not eat after 18.00. The schedule may vary depending on the season for countries situated farther from the Equator. So, the last possible evening time for supper is 19.00; formid-latitudes, it is 20.00 in spring and summer because of longer daylight hours. At the same time, go to sleep no later than 22.00 in the summer, with a long daylight hour, the time of 23.00 is possible.

Evening chronotype of nutrition. In some cases, exceptions to the rule are possible. The hot weather in some countries makes people unwilling to eat during the day and the cultural traditions support this. In many cultures, late dinner plays a social role gathering many relatives and friends at one table to talk and relax after work. People who work in the evening may also prefer the evening chronotype of nutrition.

How to follow the rule? Ideas and tips

Act cautiously. Changing your habits quickly is difficult and fraught with failure. Therefore, change your biorhythms smoothly and little by little. If you eat a little less for supper, you will have more appetite for breakfast. The more you eat at breakfast, the less hungry you will be before supper. Remember that evening overeating is established in the morning. People who skip breakfast usually eat a lot, late in the evening. Therefore, it makes no sense to deprive yourself of eating in the evening if you have had a poor breakfast and dinner and you try to resist your hunger when you are tired and don’t have the willpower. You are sure to fail in this way. So, start your change with breakfast.

No appetite for breakfast? If you have no appetite for breakfast, make a lighter or skip supper. This way you will have a great appetite for your breakfast the following day, and you can eat enough calories. The need could be unstable, so you may have to force yourself to eat well. Even if you had a hearty dinner, don’t skip breakfast.

Wake up a little earlier. If your schedule allows, wake up a little earlier. You should finish your breakfast before 0800. This is only sometimes possible for everyone. If you have the greatest work activity in the evening, such an early breakfast may not suit you.

Have less cooked food at home. If you have problems with self-control in the evening, keep less cooked food at home. Think, can you have dinner in a place with quality food on the way back home?

Have a breakfast plan. In the evening, start thinking about what you will eat for breakfast. If there is no plan, you will likely make the wrong breakfast. Ideally, cooking should not take more than 20 minutes in the morning.

Have more fun during the day. Often, wanting to have some fun after a joyless day pushes us to overeat in the evening. Therefore, plan at least one fun activity every evening to distract you from eating.

Suppose you are eating your late supper. Eat and chew something raw with plenty of fiber, such as carrots. The process of thoroughly chewing can reduce stress and hunger. Raw plant foods (except fruits) with a bit of fat will have a minimal negative impact, even consumed late in the evening.

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