What You Eat Or When You Eat: Which Is More Important?
The health care profession started out by saying a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. Wrong. They don't say that anymore. Then they started telling us how we could eat whatever calories we're gong to eat whenever we wanted. Early or late, it's all the same. Again, wrong. Not to mention the recent backtrack on animal fats being bad and vegetable fats being good. Yes, they're reversing themselves on that one today too. What you eat: But we're not here to talk about fat today. We're weighing in on the what vs. when debate. I think we can settle the "what" issue in short order. All calories are not treated the same way in the body. A gram of sugar is not treated the same way (nor utilized the same way) in the body as a gram of complex carbohydrate. If you look at food strictly as energy, you could easily draw the conclusion that sugar is the same as complex carbohydrate. They both turn into glucose for energy. But food is much more than just energy. It is nutrition as well. The sugars yields glucose -- and nothing else. The break down of the complex carbohydrate will yield fiber, vitamins, minerals, trace minerals -- all of which are necessary for the multitude of body functions. If all we eat is sugar, we will have all the energy you can imagine, but we'll still be mal-nourished. Which is why doctors in America see mal-nourished obese people in their clinics every day. So, yes, what you eat matters -- and matters a great deal. When you eat: But when you eat also matters. There are a surprising number of peer reviewed studies out there demonstrating that "when" you eat makes a difference. Our bodies have a circadian rhythm. That's not news. Scientists have been talking about that for years. There's a "best" time to wake up, a "best" time to work, and a "best" time to sleep. Well, the same is true for eating. Consider this: from the time we wake in the morning, our body temperature gradually starts to rise. A good analogy is the furnace is being stoked to get us ready for the demands of the day. That rise continues until about mid-day. From there is gradually drops off until a low in the late afternoon (which is why you need a nap or a snack about 3:30.) From there it rises a little between late afternoon and early evening (just a little bump) when it starts to drop down for the night. If you just look at this logically, you'll see that the best time to eat is early in the day when the furnace is hottest. That's when you'll be doing the majority of your work (and thus, when you'll need the most energy,) and it's when your body is metabolically most prepared to deal with the food you're eating. Stuffing yourself with difficult-to-digest fats and proteins when the furnace is shutting down for the day (in the evening) doesn't make for a good night's sleep or complete utilization of what you've eaten. As you can imagine, scientific studies have confirmed what you already figured out logically and intuitively. People who have a healthy breakfast and a large lunch, followed in the evening by a simple, small evening meal are less likely to be under-nourished or over weight. Or said another way, they're more likely to be healthy. Conclusion: Choose good foods. Natural foods, eaten in their natural state (raw) is the best way to provide your body optimum nutrition. And then consume those foods when they can best be utilized. For most people, that means a good healthy breakfast, a strapping lunch (the biggest and heartiest meal of the day, with an appropriate amount of fat and protein) and a healthy, light evening meal that's more plant-based and less fat and protein focused. If you'll do that, you'll feel better, look better, have more energy, be more healthy, and just generally have a better quality of life. Is it possible to have a good quality of life doing it the other way, probably. But you put infinitely more stress on your body doing so. When you're in sync with the natural rhythms of life, everything just seems better. So which is more important: what or when? The answer is both -- or neither. They are both equally important. Try making some adjustments in your eating habits and let us know if it has an impact on your health. We'd love to hear what you say in the comments section below.