Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.

Chrononutrition, the importance of circadian rhythms for weight control

It is common among health professionals to recommend that food intake be limited at the end of the day , and especially at night. We know that the most important thing is what food we eat, however, when we eat is becoming more and more important.

It has been scientifically proven in recent years that concentrating intakes in the morning is a generally positive recommendation for our physiology.

Is chronobiology so important for human health?

Circadian rhythms are periodic changes in biological processes (physical, mental, and behavioral). These changes coordinate hormonal signaling, nutrient absorption, body temperature swings, genetic exposure, etc. Circadian rhythms optimize the response to external stimuli that are expected at certain times of the day.

What does "chrononutrition" mean?

The term chrononutrition was born in 1986 thanks to Dr. Alain Delabos.

Currently, chrononutrition is used to study the effect of food on our circadian system. The effects that intakes have in our body on the secretion of hormones related to hunger, satiety, sleep, wakefulness, etc. There is also extensive study on its disruptions, that is, what happens if we do not follow these internal clocks.

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Studies in humans show us that the effect of a higher caloric intake at breakfast for weight loss, compared to dinner, has advantages when comparing two diets with the same calories.

Those subject to a caloric deficit diet who eat before 3:00 p.m. they can lose more weight and in less time than those who eat after 3:00 p.m. This is so, even though the total daily caloric intake is the same. Also taking into account that greater satiety is reported in those who eat earlier, and it is less difficult for them to adhere to the nutritional plan.

Eating at more daylight hours allows you to lose more weight, feel more satiety and improve glucose tolerance. This translates into a lower risk of suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. In other words, eating late can promote excess weight and may increase the risk of suffering from Diabetes.

What happens if we change the hours that are normal for our body?

Our cells are regulated by an autonomous feedback loop of approximately 24 hours. This makes it possible to rhythmically coordinate the metabolic processes of the human body, known as biological clocks.

We have many biological clocks in our body that anticipate external stimuli and prepare to respond optimally in order to maintain a good state of health.

When exposure to these external stimuli is received at the wrong time, our biological clocks become desynchronized and do not respond in a coordinated and efficient manner, thus damaging our health.

If these external stimuli are received inappropriately for several months or even years, they can cause chronic disruption of the circadian system and increase the risk of metabolic diseases.

It's not that you can't lose weight doing intermittent fasting by focusing your intakes at the end of the day. However, we now know that it is not optimal, nor the most efficient for the body. An active lifestyle should also be kept in mind, in the overall optimization of health. A correct choice of foods based on whole vegetables, sufficient rest and a stable state of mind.

I hope you liked it and it helps you in daily practice to reach the best version of yourself!

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  • Jakubowicz D., Barnea M., Wainstein J., Froy O. High caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women. Obesity. 2013; 21(12): 2504-12.
  • Ruiz-Lozano T., Vidal J., de Hollanda A., Scheer FAJL, Garaulet M., Izquierdo-Pulido M. Timing of food intake is associated with weight loss evolution in severe obese patients after bariatric surgery. Clin Nutr. 2016
  • Garaulet M., Gómez-Abellán P., Alburquerque-Béjar J., Lee Y., Ordovás JM Timing of food intake predicts weight effectiveness. Int J Obes. 2013; 37(4): 604-611.
  • Bandín C., Scheer FAJL, Luque AJ, Ávila-Gandía V., Zamora S., Madrid JA, Gómez-Abellán P., Garaulet M. Meal timing affects glucose tolerance, substrate oxidation and circadian-related variables: A randomized, crossover trial. Int J Obes. 2015; 39:828-833

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