The health guru recipe for healthy living. Thanks to this advice, lots of people work hard at snacking throughout the day. Just like a lot of the so called health advice out there, this is one that you should be taking with a pinch of salt.
Researchers from the Salk Institute of Biological Studies have found that regular eating times and extended daily fasts, are what it takes to stop obesity and diabetes, in mice.
Eating in an 8 hour window
The team fed two groups of mice lots of calories, the type of diet which long term packs on the pounds. But the mice got served their calories in two different ways.
- Group 1 – could eat their calories whenever it suited them, the food was there all the time
- Group 2 – had access to the same amount of calories, but had to do all their dining, during an 8 hour window. When the time was up, the food disappeared.
A 100 days of snacking
The nibblers (group 1) were in trouble…. they had gained weight, were suffering from high cholesterol, high blood glucose, plus their livers looked glumb. As expected, the high calorie diet had turned them into obese little lumps, weighed down with metabolic syndrome.
But the mice that had to do their munching in the 8 hour window (group 2), were in much better shape. First off, they had packed on significantly less pounds and all their vital biochemical readings were normal.
Amazingly, they came out tops in an exercise test. They were able to out perform not only the ad lib eaters (group 1), but also a group of mice that had not “overindulged” with heaps of extra calories i.e. “normal” mice.
Eat more less often ?
The lesson from these mice ………..
If you want to have your cake and eat it, you need to pig out and then give your digestive system a chance to catch up.
For mice, the time to be stuffing yourself is at night. Since, humans are not nocturnal, officially at least, the optimum time for us to pig out, is when the sun is up.
Remember the old saying,
Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and supper like a pauper.
Insulin’s job is to store fat
A bite that contains carbs will evoke a strong insulin response. The job of insulin is to process the sugar, so that it doesn’t hang around in the blood, because high levels cause lots of damage. Insulin moves the sugar into cells, especially muscle cells, where it can be used. If you’ve eaten more than you can use, the sugar is then shuttled into the fat cells and stored as fat. This fat supply, ensures the body has energy when times are tough.
But if you’re grazing all day, “tough times” never come and the hormone insulin is out and about, doing its thing, which is….. storing energy.
You burn fat when energy supplies tank
The body only burns fat after a few hours of fasting – the body’s “tough times”.
Since energy supplies are at their lowest in the middle of the night, the night shift is especially adapted for this role. The enzymes involved in fat burning switch on, while glucose processing takes a break.
But to ensure the process runs smoothly, insulin levels should be low.
Chemistry applies to mice and man
What works for a mouse, may not always apply to a human, but the underlying chemistry of insulin/leptin and circadian rhythms applies to both mouse and man.
Better body chemistry depends on reining in insulin.
Grazing, especially on carbs, drives up insulin levels so STOP GRAZING and start fasting, especially at night.
Of feasts and famines
Go back to the basics – eat three square meals a day. That’s it.
Cut the mid-morning, mid-afternoon and late night snack, contrary to what the health gurus are saying, it is NOT good for you.
PS. This might be easier said than done. If you haven’t been burning much fat for years, then the necessary machinery is probably a little rusty. Take baby steps and aim to make your snacks low carb affairs, so you keep the insulin levels as low as possible.Time-Restricted Feeding without Reducing Caloric Intake Prevents Metabolic Diseases in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet. Cell Metabolism (2012) 15(6):848-860. Megumi Hatori, Christopher Vollmers, Amir Zarrinpar, Luciano DiTacchio, Eric A. Bushong, Shubhroz Gill, Mathias Leblanc, Amandine Chaix, Matthew Joens, James A.J. Fitzpatrick, Mark H. Ellisman, Satchidananda Panda.
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