A circadian cycle is a 24-hour biological cycle that governs all our physiological processes. It is popularly known as the sleep-wake cycle. This is because the cycle determines the sleeping and waking patterns of living beings.
Other bodily functions such as hormone production, the activity of your brain waves and cell regeneration are all connected to this cycle. The cycle also affects our metabolism. So, if you align your eating with your circadian cycle, it will help you stay healthy and energised.
What is the circadian cycle?
Circadian cycle or rhythm is a daily cycle that controls your physical, behavioural and psychological changes. The cycle responds to the light and darkness surrounding you. For example, you sleep at night and stay awake during the day. This is a circadian rhythm, which is affected by light.
A section of your hypothalamus controls your circadian cycle. When it is dark, the eyes send a signal to your hypothalamus that it is time when your body feels tired. On receiving this signal, your brain sends a signal back to your body and releases a hormone called melatonin. This hormone makes you feel tired. That is why this cycle coincides with the day and night.
This cycle works best when you have regular sleeping habits. Your cycle will work perfectly if you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. But in case you have to stay awake all night for work or have a long flight at night, the cycle may be disrupted. This can lower your energy and make you feel tired. You might find it hard to pay attention to your daily activities.
What is the circadian rhythm diet?
Circadian rhythm diet is a plan to align all our eating habits according to our body clock or circadian cycle. So, it is recommended to eat during the day and fast at night. Research states that calories eaten during the day before 3 pm are more helpful in weight loss than those eaten later.
The Circadian rhythm diet instructions are –
Eat according to the sun
Eat when the sun is up. Ideally, there must be a 12-hour gap between the last meal of the day and the first of the next day. Also, eat larger meals during the day. This helps your body to digest and metabolise the food better.
Eat less later in the day
You must make your breakfast the heaviest meal and dinner the lightest. Aim to get almost 75 % of nutrition before 4 pm.
Switch breakfast and dinner food items
You can switch the food items you eat for breakfast with dinner food items. You can do the following –
Eat broccoli and whole-grain pasta for breakfast
Eat Brussels sprouts and salmon for lunch
For dinner, a big bowl of assorted vegetables along with pumpkin seeds or walnuts will be great
Following this diet, you will feel more energetic and less hungry throughout the day.
You can take these steps to maintain your circadian cycle and stay healthy –
Maintain a fixed time to sleep and wake up every day
Get enough exposure to Vitamin D from sunlight every day. This will boost your immune function.
Get some exercise or physical activity during the daylight hours
Reduce the amount of artificial light exposure from TVs and laptops at night
Your circadian cycle can help to stay healthy and get quality sleep. This, in turn, will keep you energised the following day. Apart from staying fit, your cognitive function will be enhanced.