How can you wake up without an alarm clock? Why does your tummy start grumbling a few minutes past your regular lunch hour? That is your ingrained body clock, and researchers now believe these “circadian rhythms” — 24-hour cycles of body processes — are involved in sleep, weight gain, mood disorders and disease.
New research from Oregon Health and Science University suggests that during the “wake phase,” you metabolize food faster to provide the body with energy in the form of calories. In the “sleep phase,” your digestive tract slows down, body temperature drops, and mental alertness decreases.
Other ways to follow your body clock and honor your circadian rhythms through the day:
6 am: A biological tick-tock starts from the moment you wake up and it’s affected by how long you’ve slept. According to the National Institutes of Health, light is your main cue, which turns on or turns off genes that control sleep-wake cycles, hormone release and other body functions.
7 am: If you lose sleep or awaken prematurely, you may continue to feel hungry all day despite food intake.
10 am: Are you a morning exerciser? If you have not eaten a healthy breakfast before exercise, replenish carbohydrates after with a yogurt smoothie or a glass of OJ and several wheat crackers until you can hit the breakfast table or coffee shop.
11 am: Prior to a lunchtime sandwich or in spite of pizza peer-pressure, drink two 8-ounce cups of water or green tea. Make the most of your own circadian rhythms by following our body clock guidelines in order to lose weight, boost stamina and get fitter.
12 noon: For the body to metabolize properly, you should drink half your body weight in ounces per day. If you weigh 130 pounds, for example, drink a minimum of 65 ounces of water, about eight 8-ounce cups.
1 pm: Plan meals wisely: Lunch should contain protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and non-starchy veggies to sustain stamina and curb cravings later. Make sure lunch is packed with fiber (25 to 35 grams a day).
2 pm: To bypass bloating, feel alert and optimize digestion, incorporate oatmeal and apples into breakfast; whole-wheat bread and vegetables into lunch; and beans, legumes and greens into dinner.
4 pm: Have a pickle for a snack. That’s right: Acidic and fermented foods lower the glycemic index of a midday meal by one-third and improve your good-gut bacteria with probiotic calories.
5 pm: Physical co-ordination, stamina and metabolic rate peak. Perfect time to slate a game of doubles tennis or schedule an early-evening kickboxing class.
6 pm: Thirty minutes pre-workout, nibble a handful of raw almonds and drink a cup of green tea or even a small, low-fat mocha latte to fuel up. Natural appetite suppressants, like the caffeine in green tea or iced coffee, re-balance your brain and curb cravings.
9 pm: Wind it down with herbal tea and quiet meditation, reading or your favorite bed-time practice.
Stay tuned for more spa-fitness wellness research next week.