We’ve all looked in the mirror at one time or another and wanted to magic away the little bit extra that seems to have accumulated around our middle without our consent. What’s the first thing that comes to mind if I ask you what would you need to do in order to lose a few kg’s around your belly? Cut back on desserts, alcohol and chocolates and substitute those tasty chicken focaccia’s with unadulterated salads? While I’m not going to argue with that pretty reliable recipe for weight loss, however there is some fascinating research coming out now on the benefit of time restricted eating as a supplementary measure which may help you control your waist line.
Rather than restricting what you are eating or taking on another diet, restricting the time period that you allow yourself to eat each day might just have a bigger impact on your health than you think.
Dr Satchin Panda, a scientist and researcher who is leading research in the fascinating field of circadian rhythms, has demonstrated with mice that restricting eating times during the day to a 10 – 12 hour window provides a significant benefit to health and assists in regulating weight, blood sugar levels, quality of sleep and energy levels.
One such research study which has been replicated many times with mice has produced staggering evidence. In the experiment, the mice in one group are fed a high calorie, high fat diet and are able to eat their food over a long period of time and as you might expect they quickly became overweight and even obese. Another group of mice who eat the same diet and consume the same number of calories in a restricted time window are better able to maintain their weight and remain healthier as shown by a number of markers. Step back and let that sink in for a moment! Two different groups of mice ate the same food, consisting of the same number of calories with the only difference being the period of time in which they ate their food and one group got fat and the other didn’t! As I said, this study has been replicated many times with mice from the same litter.
Human volunteers are now trialling time restricted eating whilst contributing to further research in the area through a new app called myCircadianClock. Participants have indicated that within a few weeks they are experiencing better quality sleep, the feeling of having more energy and are better able to manage their weight. Anybody can sign up to participate in the trial and contribute to the research through the website myCircadiunClock.org. Participants are required to input data into the app such as what they eat and when they sleep and exercise. This app provides a great accountability tool if you have thought about tracking your sleep, exercise and nutrition habits. Of coarse you could always do this yourself or with the help of a coach.
If you would like to go deeper on the subject of circadian rhythms, follow Dr Panda’s work at the SALK Institute. He also has a TEDx talk on the subject which provides a great overview.
Bodily Functions Tied to Circadian Rhythms
Many of your body’s functions are tied into it’s natural circadian rhythm, which is akin to an inbuilt clock that regulates our bodily systems. The production of melatonin for example, known as the hormone of darkness, is a naturally produced hormone in the body that prepares your body for sleep. It is produced in increasing quantity during the evening and into the night. Then during the early hours of the morning as its levels decrease, your body’s metabolism begins to increase and prepares you for the activity of the day.
You might be surprised to know that you have melatonin receptors in many organs of your body which seems to indicate that melatonin is somewhat of a conductor keeping many hormones and body systems in synchronisation and helping to regulate the daily cycle of activity, rest and regeneration. Low levels of melatonin may impact on your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels and not only cause you to have lower quality sleep but increase fat storage.
There are many facets which impact on your state of wellbeing with sleep being a major one. When addressing a wellbeing issue or challenge, I’m an advocate for examining lifestyle factors which may be contributing to the issue. If you are having trouble with your weight, what variation could you implement to see whether it has an impact? Time restricted eating could be one such strategy well worth a go, not only to assist with weight control but also with your quality of sleep.
Implementing time restricted eating is as simple as committing to only eating during a designated 10 to 12 hour window. There is no need to race down to the supermarket to stock up for a drastic change to your diet. You could start tomorrow with an eating window of 7am to 7pm and not eating outside of those times which should be achievable for most people.
In doing so you will be assisting your body to regulate over a 24 hour cycle. Reducing late night eating will also assist you to increase your melatonin production in the evening and improve your quality of sleep.
There are many other tips and tools available to increase your sleep quality such as sleep tracking apps and reducing exposure to light in the evening. There are even specially designed blue light blocking glasses you can wear at night to counter the effects of certain spectrums of light known to reduce your melatonin production. A perfect solution if you often find your way to the front of a computer screen at night, or even a phone! Yes, I’m guilty too…
The takeaway here is that subtle changes in your routines and lifestyle can have a massive impact on your health over time. When you look back, it’s amazing how a number of seemingly small changes add up to produce a massive shift in your wellbeing and overall outlook on life. That’s the purpose of I GRASP Wellness, to help individuals and teams make incremental and sustainable adjustments to improve health and make you feel great.