Circadian Rhythm Fasting: What Is It and How Does It Work?
Intermittent fasting is a popular trend in the health and wellness world, but there’s another type of fasting that has been gaining attention lately: circadian rhythm fasting. This approach to eating seeks to align our meal times with our natural biological clock or circadian rhythm.
What is circadian rhythm?
Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle in response to light and darkness. These rhythms influence many functions of the body, including sleep-wake cycles, hormone production, metabolism, immune function, and more.
According to research published in the Journal of Biological Rhythms, these rhythms can also affect how we process food. For example, insulin sensitivity varies throughout the day; it’s highest in the morning and lowest at night. Eating within certain windows may enhance insulin sensitivity while reducing inflammation.
How does circadian rhythm fasting work?
Circadian rhythm fasting typically involves eating during an eight- to ten-hour window each day (usually between 10 am – 6 pm), followed by a period of overnight fast for about fourteen hours (between 6 pm – 10 am). During this time frame where you’re allowed to eat your meals several factors come into play:
1) Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. When you eat carbohydrates or sugars your blood glucose levels rise which causes insulin secretion from the pancreas. Insulin helps move glucose out of your bloodstream into your cells so they can use it for energy or storage as glycogen.
When you have low insulin sensitivity it means that your cells are not responding well enough to insulin which leads to high blood sugar levels over time if left untreated. Eating within an eight- to ten-hour window may help improve insulin sensitivity since most people tend to be more sensitive earlier in the day when their cortisol levels are highest.
2) Increased Metabolism
Studies have shown that the body’s metabolism and digestive system function better during daylight hours compared to nighttime. Eating within an eight- to ten-hour window may help improve your metabolism since you’re eating while the sun is up and avoiding food when it’s dark outside.
3) Better Sleep Quality
Eating later in the evening can disrupt sleep quality by causing indigestion, reflux, or other symptoms of acid reflux. By following a circadian rhythm fasting protocol, you can avoid these issues and promote better sleep quality.
4) Weight Loss
Circadian rhythm fasting has been shown to promote weight loss for several reasons. Some studies suggest that intermittent fasting increases fat burning, which may lead to greater weight loss than traditional calorie-restricted diets. Additionally, by limiting your eating window you’re more likely to consume fewer calories overall.
5) Reduced Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural immune response but when it becomes chronic, it can lead to health problems like heart disease and diabetes. Circadian rhythm fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation in some individuals by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing oxidative stress.
What are some tips for getting started with circadian rhythm fasting?
If you’re interested in trying this approach out for yourself here are some helpful tips:
1) Gradually adjust your meal times: Instead of jumping straight into an eight- or ten-hour eating window try gradually adjusting your meal times over a few weeks until you reach your desired schedule
2) Prioritize whole foods: Stick with nutrient-dense whole foods like fruits vegetables nuts seeds lean proteins healthy fats etc
3) Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day especially during your fasted period
4) Listen to your body: If you feel hungry outside of your designated eating window don’t hesitate to eat something nutritious like fruit or veggies
Overall circadian rhythm fasting offers an interesting approach to intermittent fasting that may have additional health benefits. By following a consistent eating schedule and prioritizing whole foods you can support your body’s natural rhythms while promoting better sleep, weight loss, and reduced inflammation. As with any diet or lifestyle change, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting.