More than 50% of us are eating for 15 hours or more everyday. From our first coffee of the day to our last sip of wine or bite of dessert at 9pm or later. Our modern obesogenic environment gives us unlimited access to food (think 24 hour fast-food restaurants and 7/11 convenience stores). Food, coffee and alcohol are at the centre of how we socialise and the way we cope with stress. The problem is that this is impacting our circadian rhythm (sleep and wake cycle), confusing our brain and feelings of hunger and satiety, and contributing to those ‘love handles’.
Research is showing that WHEN we eat is impacting our waistline just as much as what we eat. I have listened to a few interviews with Professor Satchin Panda, and he is a big advocate for time restricted feeding. In a nutshell, this means eating within an 8-12 hour window. He also promotes front loading your meals, which means eating more earlier in the day (bigger breakfast) and less at night (smaller and earlier dinner).
Studies have shown that after 16 weeks (4 months) of eating within a 10 (8-12 hour) window, people lost on average 4-5% of their body weight. Participants reported they were able to stick to their new eating schedule quite easily. Eating the same number of calories in this shorter window of time also resulted in more energy, improved sleep, and less acid reflux and heartburn symptoms.
These findings make a lot of sense from an evolutionary perspective as we were unlikely to go out looking for food in the dark for fear of be becoming prey to a predator. We are not primed for digestion in the evenings, with our saliva and stomach acid production slowing down at night. We also cannot repair our guts if we are eating right before bed and this may be contributing to more food sensitivities and gut inflammation. Our body needs time at night to rest, digest and heal itself.
So when it comes to supporting your health, make sure you think about not only what you are eating but WHEN you are eating too.