Eating Around Your Body Clock

A growing body of evidence is supporting the idea that when we eat matters almost as much as what we eat. If you’ve ever been on a long trip, then you know our bodies run on a clock, and when we disrupt that clock, chaos (and jetlag) ensues. As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” - breakfast, lunch, and dinner included!

Earlier this year the International Journal of Obesity published a study that found that dieters who ate their main meal before 3 p.m. lost much more weight than those who ate heavily later in the day. The early eaters and the later eaters consumed roughly the same amount of calories, and had similar levels of exercise, with the only significant variable being the times of day they ate. Scientists are finding out more and more about the connection between when you eat and your body’s ability to metabolize food. What they’ve discovered is that when we don’t eat at optimal times, our bodies store the extra energy as fat.

It’s All About Timing

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – your mother told you that, and scientists are ready to back her up. Breakfast – eaten about an hour after you wake up – starts the timer on your body clock for the day and gets your metabolism going. Eating breakfast every morning has been linked to helping weight loss, but even more importantly, the Harvard School of Public Health found that men who skipped breakfast had a 27 percent higher risk of heart attack or death from heart disease than those who didn’t. For the best results, try oatmeal topped with fresh berries and walnuts or an omelet with spinach and avocado (light on the cheese).

Lunch is when, ideally, you should have your largest meal of the day. Eat like you’re in Europe. Sit down at noon, relax, take your time eating something healthy and delicious with a salad course and some protein. There’s plenty of time left in the day for you to use these calories as nature intended – for work – so they don’t add on as fat.

Dinner, your last meal of the day, should also be the lightest meal of the day and eaten at least 3 hours before bedtime. Eating too close to bedtime makes it difficult for you to get a good, deep sleep (which can disrupt your body’s rhythm for the next day and lead to eating more for energy). Similarly, exercising at night can also throw you off your sleep schedule.

Our bodies and our rhythms need us to help reinforce healthy habits, so don’t expect your body to know what it needs on autopilot. Every morning, your body clock starts over and you have a chance to decide if you start your day off on the right foot, or with a donut in-hand. There is a time for every matter under heaven – and that timing matters.