Time Restricted Eating
Time restricted eating, or intermittent fasting, is the practice of limiting the number of hours that you eat in a day. Why would you do that? Because these primordial rhythms are ingrained in our genome, in our circadian clock, and in our evolution. We talk a lot about what to eat, but we seldom discuss when to eat. Dr. Cate Shanahan, MD (she’s the team doctor for the LA Lakers and author of Deep Nutrition) refers to meal timing as the 4th macronutrient.
The practice of fasting is ingrained in our evolution – we are diurnal animals, that sleep at night and traditionally hunt and gather (or shop at Costco) during waking, or daylight hours. Western, modern life with all of its artificial blue light has allowed us to fool ourselves into thinking we can outsmart our physiology. Unfortunately, this has led to obesity, poor attention spans, and chronic illness from inflammation resulting in all modern diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity, and Alzheimers just to name a few.
A recent study done at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health showed a 40% decrease in the recurrence of breast cancer in women that controlled for only one variable – no food or beverages other than water, after 7pm. That’s it. No calorie restriction, no change in what, or how much they ate, just when. That is incredible evidence that allowing your body to repair itself through autophagy (the orderly degradation and recycling of cellular components) and apoptosis (programmed cell death) is worth the minimal effort it takes to stop shoving food in your face after sundown, don’t ya think?
Also, when the sun starts to go down there is a signaling pathway in the body that begins the production of melatonin. Melatonin in turn has receptors in the pancreatic eyelet (beta) cells which inhibits insulin secretion, meaning you are a lot less insulin sensitive near sunset than you are at sunrise and a lot more apt to gain weight. That evening glass of wine, or after dinner bowl of ice cream, is actually more detrimental based on the time you eat it; it’s the when, not the what that matters most.
There’s an app called ZERO available for your phone that allows you to set the number of hours you would like to fast, what time you want to begin fasting, and an alert when you have reached your goal. A 13 hour overnight fast is incredibly healthful, and surprisingly easy to accomplish. Give it a try.