015: Intermittent Fasting and Circadian Rhythm In Sync
Welcome! I’m Kay Dorelus, your host. And this is the Good Girl Gone OMAD podcast, a go-to resource for people like yourself looking to learn more about their health and happiness through intermittent fasting in a world that is constantly telling us to do more, be more and eat more.
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Everybody loves numbers, everybody loves numbers. We, as human beings, love assigning a number to something because it tends to validate what we do. Whether it’s 1300 followers, maybe 20,000 facebook friends, or a million dollars in my bank account. I’m kidding but, if a million of you listeners out there each donated a dollar… (laugh) ok, ok. But seriously, if you’d like to donate to my show, stay tuned for an exciting project I’ve been working on and will be sharing it at the end of this show so hear me out.
Anyway, we are so obsessed with numbers. We track everything, we wear a watch to track our steps, we want to know how many steps did we walk today, we track our activity, how many calories did we burn, what was the duration of our workout. We want to track how many calories are we eating vs. how many did we burn. We track our food, how many grams of sugar, how many grams of protein, how many grams of sodium and carbs. How many hours of sleep did I get? How many hours of sleep didn’t I get? How many boyfriends have I had? (laugh)
Hey all of my IF Challenger out there. If you haven’t seen this yet, get ready! I am kicking off my 3 Day Fasting Challenge in July but this one is definitely special because I am co-hosting it with my good friend Fasted Human. So you can either complete the fast with me beginning July 1 or with Erick beginning July 9. The choice is yours, so follow us on Instagram and Facebook so you don’t miss your change to fast with a gang of us. Let’s turn it up this July.
Seriously, there are so ways to track everything from Health, Goals, Habits, Media Consumption, Friends, Heart, Sleep, Money, Mood, Habits,… everything. And I get it, we want to know ourselves a little more in order to help ourselves, control ourselves, optimize ourselves and entertain ourselves. If you embrace this movement of self-surveillance, consider yourself a datasexual. That’s what they’re calling it.
I honestly think this way of life is obsessive. I’m being honest with you. We are drowning in numbers that don’t have any actionable value, meaning we have all this information readily available to us, and we wear these watches that tell us everything about everything. How many glasses of water did I drink? How many laps did I swim? How many miles did I run? What neighborhood is my packaging in? How are my stocks doing? It’s a lot. I don’t fundamentally believe we should be living life like this. It isn’t sustainable and I’m all about living a lifestyle and promoting healthy habits that are sustainable.
However, I will say that tracking or this self-survelliance movement is a very good tool to get people to become more engaged, motivated and to be more conscious but I don’t think you need a watch or a fancy gadget. I don’t think you need to be aware of physical numbers, every day, every hour… on the hour… in order to see progress. Matter of fact, good ole’ pen and paper works wonders.
I used to be like you. Obsessed with calorie counting, measuring every step, every ounce, every sweatbead until I realized after months and months that despite me being armed with all of this information, I wasn’t happy with my progress. So I said to myself, “Girl, what would happen if you just stopped.” I took off my tracker, put away my watches, stopped counting, stopped tracking and honestly, that is when success happened.
Our everyday conveniences like our phones and cars, now coupled with our obsession with tracking everything has completely distanced us from our natural rhythm. Most people can’t even tell time without looking at a clock but time is the master of all. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, every living, breathing cell on this Earth evolves and grows under the rise and fall of the sun light and moon light. Plants, animals, you, we are all influenced by lightness and darkness. That’s what we’re talking about today.
So what is it?
This definition has been adapted from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, it is the act of change in your body cued from the environment, with the main influence being day light. Simple. We don’t need our phones to tell us what time it is, we run on our own biological clock. Our master clock is a group of about 20,000 nerve cells that form a structure called the suprachiasmatic (SUPRA-KY-AS-MATIC) nucleus or SCN for short, which is located in your brain.
SCN receives information about incoming light from your eyes and relays it to the brain. So for example, at night when the moon is out, SCN tells the brain to make the hormone melatonin and you become very sleepy.
Our bodies are designed to be in sync with circadian rhythm. Light can either turn on genes or turn them off. They can speed up your biological clock or slow it down. This stuff is real, if you’ve ever been jet-lagged than you’ve felt the effects of circadian rhythm on your biological clock. Circadian rhythms can have an effect on how you sleep as one example, but more importantly, it can effect your hormones, your eating habits and digestion. Now! Do you see where I’m going with this? Operating within a 24 hour Circadian Rhythm can help you optimize your eating and fitness. So let’s explore how.
Before artificial light and artificial food, … I know, I know but let’s just call it like it is. We call the flash from our phones light and we call snacks that can sit on the shelves for months food… but I digress, so before all of these modern day conveniences, like way back in the day, we would hunt and gather our food when the sun was high and rest at night i.e. fasting.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Ayurvedic medicine has always thought of when we eat is more important that what we eat. For most of us, our daily habits are typically guided by the sun but because of modern conveniences we eat when we should be sleeping and sleep when we should be eating… and some of us eat around the clock. No wonder we’re all out of sync.
You might ask, but what does this have to do with fasting? When you think about most of us eat as soon as we get out of bed, because someone sold us the lie that breakfast was the most important meal of the day and we bought it… and then we eat and snack and eat all the way up until bed time. That’s 16 hours of eating and maybe only 8 hours of sleeping. That is a very large window to be consuming food. You are essentially taxing your digestive system for 16 hours.
So this theory of Circadian Rhythm eating is simply returning to our natural patterns as human beings. Stepping away from the phones and the computers and the apps and the clocks. Eating according to light is just another way of saying, when we eat is more important than what we eat. Ultimately, your eyes are telling your body what time it is and what to do during that time. I say this all the time but I’m very serious when I do, you can not outsmart your body! Eating at a caloric deficit, and all these other programs that these so-called health coaches are selling these days is just a recipe for malnourishment. Your body is smarter than you and will win every time.
So along those lines, I’d like to think of Circadian Rhythm and Intermittent Fasting as close sisters but they are not the same. This is not intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting, by my definition is a set pattern of fasting and eating using number of hours. I typically go from 16 to 24 hours without eating, and occasionally do 3-day fast, so I am not always practicing Circadian Rhythm Eating. Circadian Rhythm Eating is specifically fasting from early evening until morning. Using that sunlight as a guide. I can not argue that one is better than the other but clearly, I am bias to intermittent fasting.
So how do you live and do intermittent fasting in sync with your Circadian Rhythym?
1) Eat with the sun.
If any of you follow my personal Instagram account, I post a lot about the sun and moon phases. Somebody might think that I’m a celestial worshipper. Not the case, I just understand the powerful influence of our sky and how it relates to our health. The expectation is to eat when the sun is up. Please don’t get this confused with breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s not. I don’t believe that and I don’t promote that. I’m saying to eat during daylight hours. Because, over the years, we have listened to ‘so-called experts’ that promote ‘increasing your metabolism’ and as a result you’ve been mis-led into thinking that eating as soon as you wake up will help you. This is different. When I say daylight, I don’t mean first thing in the morning - so try to eat around lunch time and avoid eating too early.
2) Consider an eating window.
Have you heard the saying, there’s a time to work and there’s a time to play? The same can be said about your body, there’s a time to eat and a time to digest. Anything that takes us out of sync with light and dark cycles can have a debilitating effect on our health. Giving your body enough time to eat and properly digest food is called Time Restrictive Eating. This is a form of intermittent fasting. So, to start it’s typically 12 hours, but this could be a gentler way of approaching intermittent fasting. How cool is it to tell someone to eat when the sun’s up and stop when it goes down? No timing, no tracking, no weighing, no equations just go ole’ reliable sun and moon to guide you.
3) Avoid snacking.
The simplest way to improve your metabolic health is to refrain from snacking in-between meals, no matter what method you’re following. Ride the wave of your natural circadian rhythm and help your blood glucose level improve.
So a new study came out in April from the Medical Research Council who conducted a study that’s the first to identify insulin as a primary signal that helps communicate the timing of meals to the biological clocks in your body.
Now, if you’ve never heard me talk about insulin before and you’re not so sure why insulin is crucial when it comes to intermittent fasting. You are going to want to listen to my episode #3 What Goes On In Your Body During Intermittent Fasting, where I cover all of the hormones that are working when you do intermittent fasting. But the short answer is, insulin is your ’storage hormone’, it tells your body to store fat. Your insulin levels spike when you eat and fall when you’re not eating.
So in this study, they gave mice insulin during a time they’d typically be resting and it disrupted their circadian rhythm, causing confusing between night and day. They basically proved that insulin acts like a timing signal to cells throughout the body. This is really eye opening because if we draw the comparison to humans, knowing our access to food at any time of the day, we can equate all the eating and snacking that we do being a huge disruption to our circadian rhythm. Among other distractions that keep us from optimal health like long work hours, insane commute times, cell phone usage, Netflix binges and it is now becoming evident that disrupting our circadian rhythm is linked to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
I really love this topic because it is just a reminder that despite all of futurism and egos, we should remain grounded in this Earth, guided by light and darkness, influenced by gravity and inertia. We’ve done an excellent job of over-engineering the heck out of ourselves that we have fallen out of relationship with our north star, our sun, that ultimately guides us. We’ve come to pride ourselves on the numbers of steps that we take, and calories that we burn all the while never considering that too much information is in fact too much information. Take your ego out of your journey. Our brain, our gut, our microbiome are all interconnected. If we allow ourselves to just simple “be” as human beings, and remove all the robotics, that MAYBE all the stars will align (pun intended) and everything will work out. All of the research articles that are coming out now are just echoing back something we’ve known all along, Dorothy… We are just a reflection of the environment that surrounds us.
Deep inside our bodies, we are operating within rhythm whether you’re are in tuned with it or not. But I hope after this episode you chose to get back in tuned with your biological clock and perhaps try a new way of thinking about when you eat vs. what you eat, whether that be intermittent fasting or Circadian Rhythm Eating.
I’ve enjoyed you all so much today. Follow me on instagram and in the Facebook group by searching Good Girl Gone OMAD, and let me know what’s your favorite part from today. I love to hear what you think about the show… Do you now feel driven by the sun? Or maybe, this just fueled you to get started on your intermittent fasting journey. Either way, leave a comment or send me a message and let me know what you think about today’s episode.
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