Although not widely known, nutrition and dietetic experts have been researching chrononutrition for years. It is a discipline that consists of respecting the natural rhythm of the body and eating food when the body is more prepared to assimilate it.
And, according to this discipline, the ideal time to eat food is highly influenced by the so-called circadian rhythms, which are nothing other than the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle, mainly based on light and sunlight. darkness.
These circadian changes condition the effect that food produces according to the time of day we consume it.
Why? Because in our body there are a series of hormones whose concentration changes depending on the time of day. In addition, each organ and tissue has its own clock that determines its hours of operation.
Among these hormones are leptin, responsible for regulating appetite, melatonin, which is involved in the natural sleep cycle, or cortisol, which has multiple functions such as responding to stress, regulating blood sugar level, maintaining blood pressure, or organize metabolism.
The hormones that are most activated during the night are, for example, melatonin and leptin. The latter tells our body that it is satiated and that it does not need to eat during the night. On the contrary, hormones such as cortisol are more present during solar hours.
What happens when we break these circadian rhythms, eating at night, for example, is that the clocks that regulate all these substances go out of whack, and that can cause weight gain and other health problems.
A study carried out by Marta Garaulet, Doctor in Pharmacy and Professor of Physiology and Physiological Bases of Nutrition at the University of Murcia, shows how people who eat after three in the afternoon have a harder time losing weight compared to those they eat before that time. And this regardless of the number of calories they consume.
The study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, points out that during rest there is an improvement in the metabolization and oxidation of carbohydrates. In addition, the level of glucose in the blood is lower and the cortisol levels are better compared to those who eat after 3 in the afternoon.
But it is not only the timing of meals that influences weight loss. We must also add another series of factors such as exposure to sunlight, physical activity, hours of sleep, or stress level. All this influences the worsening of our quality of life and, therefore, can cause a circadian interruption or chronodisruption (alteration of the circadian rhythm).
But how do we match eating with our circadian rhythms? The Spanish Nutrition Foundation points out a series of recommendations to achieve this:
1. Eat the main meal of the day before 15:00 h.
2. Eat dinner at least 2.5 hours before going to sleep. No later than 9:00 p.m.
3. Avoid eating during sleeping hours.
4. Dedicate 15-20 minutes for breakfast, 30-45 minutes for lunch/dinner, and one hour for dinner.
5. Avoid exposure to light at night, and sleep in the dark when possible.
6. Do not do physical activity during the 2 or 3 hours before the usual time of sleep.
7.Sleep at night and be active during the day.
8. Get enough sleep a day (7-8 hours).
9. Take a short nap at noon (20 minutes).
10. And of course, follow a Mediterranean diet.
In Spain, people tend to have lunch and dinner late, hours that do not facilitate weight loss and, in addition, do not benefit from a correct hormonal secretion, which also poses a health risk. And if we want to lose weight significantly in the short and long term, it is best to follow the recommendations of nutrition experts.