Chrono-nutrition: How to lose weight by scheduling your meals
There are three pillars of weight-loss and healthy eating - what you eat (quality), how much you eat (quantity) and when you eat (timing). While the first two have always received a lot of attention, we often drop the ball on the third.
Whether we are busy at work or going out for a party, the delay in eating takes a toll on the body.
What is chrono-nutrition?
Chrono-nutrition involves synchronising your eating patterns with your biological clock. Apart from the reproductive clock, the body follows many rhythms and cycles - like the sleep-wake cycle, hormonal rhythms, neurotransmitter rhythms, and ingestion patterns (notice how you feel like eating a snack around the same time every day?).
Developed by a French nutritionist, Dr Alain Delabos along with Professor Jean-Robert Rapin in 1986, chrono-nutrition has its roots in Ayurveda and ancient Chinese medicine.
Ayurveda considers meal timings to be an important tool for health. The idea is that our body functions in sync with rhythmic cycles throughout the day - this is the reason why our body prompts us to eat, sleep, and exercise at roughly the same time every day.
Chinese medicine says that every organ in our body has its own rhythm (that's why practitioners of Chinese medicine recommend that certain therapies be done at specific times of the day).
Both healing systems say the same thing: if we follow the rhythm of our body and eat accordingly, our health will improve.
How does it work?
Studies show that our brain has a master clock called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) - it controls our body clock while constantly taking stock of any changes in the body, in our behaviour, and external environment. The master clock also takes control of the peripheral clock found in the liver, fat tissues, heart, muscle, stomach and lungs.
According to "The Big Breakfast Study", chrono‐nutrition influences energy expenditure and body weight. It claims that eating the right food at the right time ensures you get the maximum nutrition out of it. The study also mentions that your breakfast should be heavy and full of energy-rich foods whereas the evening meal should have the least calories.
Another study says that heavy evening meals lead to weight gain and obesity. Similarly, skipping breakfast can cause alteration in the genes regulating the biological clock of the body, eventually leading to increased blood sugar after the next meal.
If you decide to follow the chrono-diet, the golden rule is to ensure only three meals a day - breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The gap between breakfast-lunch and lunch-dinner should be 4 to 5 hours. But between dinner and the next day’s breakfast, the gap should be of at least 12 hours to break down the stored fats.
Shift workers are at a higher risk of weight gain and metabolic diseases due to their disturbed biological cycles (sleep/wake and feed/fast cycle).
What are the benefits of chrono-nutrition?
Following the chrono-diet religiously for a substantial period of time can have several positive effects on the body, such as:
- Better digestion and absorption of nutrients
- Maximum benefits from the nutrients absorbed
- Weight management
- Fat loss
- Regulated cholesterol
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Strengthened immune system
- Balanced hormones
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, read our article on Diet Plan for Weight Loss.
The information provided here is intended to provide free education about certain medical conditions and certain possible treatment. It is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis, treatment, and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. If you believe you, your child or someone you know suffers from the conditions described herein, please see your health care provider immediately. Do not attempt to treat yourself, your child, or anyone else without proper medical supervision. You acknowledge and agree that neither myUpchar nor firstpost is liable for any loss or damage which may be incurred by you as a result of the information provided here, or as a result of any reliance placed by you on the completeness, accuracy or existence of any information provided herein.
Updated Date: Oct 21, 2019 16:47:27 IST
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