“Eat like a king in the morning, a prince at noon, and a peasant at dinner.”
Maimonides (1135–1204), a medieval Jewish philosopher/doctor
The seventh and final behaviour in our Eat Better Strategy is straightforward: Go 12 hours without eating.
Eliminating the extra calories from nighttime snacking may be the most significant impact for many, but embracing 12 hour daily fasts aligns with two principles derived from human evolution - circadian rhythms and fasting physiology.
The earth’s predictable, 24 hour, light/dark (diurnal) cycle has led evolution to develop circadian rhythms.
The light part of the cycle activates many genes while turning off others, preparing our body for what the day holds:
At night, the process reverses with the active daytime genes shutting down and others activating, setting our system up for the expected nighttime activities:
Up to 40% of our genes are affected by the diurnal rhythm. Light is the dominant trigger, but the presence or absence of food also plays a key role.
Bottom Line: our bodies expect food in the daytime and fasting in the evening - evolution has designed us this way.
Above and beyond the timing of eating, going without eating can trigger biological processes of repair and restoration collectively known as fasting physiology.
From an evolutionary perspective, the ability to survive periods of starvation makes sense. Cells reprogram themselves during periods of fasting; recycling damaged intracellular proteins and organelles such as mitochondria. This process, called autophagy, provides energy and building blocks for cellular maintenance. Suppression of autophagy is associated with oxidative stress, inflammation, ageing and cancer.
Research has demonstrated that intermittent fasting (IF) provides many benefits:
Consistently going 12 hours without food will likely provide many of these benefits and provide you with the foundation for IF.
Before trying IF, we recommend that you follow the Eat Better Strategy principles for 4-6 weeks.
If you are taking medications - please check with your doctor and develop a plan before initiating intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating.
The EAT Better Strategy:
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Dr. Brendan Byrne