Since Thanksgiving there have been two strains of comments among the commentariat that read the GlibFit articles. First, those of you who in some way, shape, or form, write something related to the article to help your fellow Glibertarian. Second, the few who think trying to exercise and/or eat right between Thanksgiving and New Years Day is a fool’s errand.
As part of the discussion, one of you offered up chrononutrition. I’ve looked back through the comments and tried doing some searches on the site to find who to credit but my web skills are poor. Whoever posted this article, thank you.
I’m no scientician but I found the ideas in the article intriguing. The author was obviously aware of the Glibertarian audience for his work. He kindly gave us a TL; DR version:
- Circadian biology plays a fundamental role in human health.
- Research has shown that nutrient ingestion can impact our “body clocks” in peripheral tissues around the body, suggesting that when we eat our meals can have implications for health via influencing circadian rhythms.
- In addition, it has been hypothesized that having a restricted feeding window (time-restricted feeding) can have beneficial impacts on body composition and health, likely via circadian effects at least in some part.
- A related hypothesis suggests that the distribution of calories over the day (majority eaten early vs. late) can also have health impacts.
- My personal interpretation of the current literature available leads me to tentatively conclude that, in general, the following heuristics would be beneficial for many people to follow: 1) avoid eating during biological night, 2) avoid meals, particularly those high in fat and/or carbohydrates, close to DLMO (or say, at least ~2-3 hours pre-sleep), 3) bias more calories to earlier in the day (i.e. don’t eat a high proportion of your daily calories in the late evening), 4) have consistent meal times and meal frequency from day-to-day, 5) have some restricted feeding window (start with <12 hours per day, but no ideal is yet known), 6) get daylight exposure early in the day and avoid artificial light (blue and green wavelengths of light specifically) as much as is pragmatically reasonable at night.
- There are several caveats and exceptions to the above heuristics. Implications may be different for athletes, for those trying to gain weight, for those who such heuristics undermine adherence to nutrition fundamentals, and in situations where social interactions and fun should be prioritized.
I’m going to give this a try. I’ll probably need to eat a bigger breakfast and lunch. Adding a more substantial afternoon snack should make it easier to eat a smaller dinner. Eating more than two hours, much less three, before going to sleep is going to be a challenge. I tend to have long workdays. I’ll need to work this one out. Though I will say all the late-night banter makes it easier even if it does deprive me of the sleep I need (I’m looking at you Sir Digby, CPRM, Festus, and Straffinrun.)
Let us know in the comments if you have used these ideas and how they worked (or didn’t) for you. I’m curious to know if anyone with experience finds this sustainable (or not). I don’t mean perfectly abiding by this program at all times. I do mean making this a regular routine subject to life’s occasional disruptions.
Another angle I’m curious about is anyone who has done this and exercised at night. This is a possible exception as noted by the author. I’m reading David Goggins’ book in part to motivate me to up my fitness game. I strongly suspect this is going to mean, for me, continuing with lifting in the morning and adding HIIT and ab work in the evening after work. I can’t tell if that’s compatible with the author’s suggestions.