We’re learning that when you eat is just as important as what you eat because of our body’s daily 24-hour circadian rhythm. Find out what you need to know about your own body clock, and how following the principles of a circadian rhythm diet could help you reach your weight loss and health goals.
Jenny Craig has a strong foundation in science. Whether it’s working with Registered Dietitians to offer delicious versions of your favorite foods, to being the first commercial weight loss company to integrate Nobel Prize winning research on circadian rhythms into their program, Jenny Craig keeps up with the latest nutrition research and then puts it into practice to help their members reach their health and wellness goals while living everyday life.
While you already know that your food choices impact your weight and potentially your risk of disease, like cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity, more and more research has demonstrated that when you eat is just as important as what you eat. This is based upon the science of circadian rhythms.
What are circadian rhythms?
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences defines circadian rhythms as one’s mental, behavioral and physical changes over a 24-hour cycle. The patterns are typically divided into two 12-hour periods, which are dictated by daytime and nighttime.
During the day, you go about your errands, job, and family life, while in the evening, you typically wind down from the day's activities and go to sleep, which allows the body to recover from everything you did throughout the day. By aligning your eating patterns with your natural circadian rhythm, you'll eat during the day when you are most active and refrain from food at night as your body prepares for sleep.
How do circadian rhythms work?
In the same way that you are busy getting tasks done throughout the day, so are every one of your body’s cells. They are all hard at work metabolizing, or managing, complex chemical processes throughout your body. This metabolic process has a predictable curve that follows a 24--hour cycle paralleling the 12-hour light-dark periods during the day. Your metabolism peaks toward mid-day and tapers off towards the early evening. In the peak period, your body is busy digesting food for the energy needed to use as fuel for all of your daily activities. By late afternoon and into the evening, your metabolism is still active but not as efficient as earlier in the day. Aligning your food intake with your circadian rhythm may help to maximize your weight loss efforts and may benefit your overall lifestyle.
How circadian rhythms affect weight loss
Late-night eating has a reputation for leading to weight gain. From morning until mid-afternoon, our metabolism is optimal and the body is most efficient at burning calories. That’s why eating large meals in the evening when the body is winding down and getting ready for bed works against you and can lead to weight gain.
Jenny Craig recently launched Rapid Results, an innovative science-based program that leverages the body's circadian clock to help optimize metabolism and accelerate weight loss.1 Members on the Rapid Results program focus on eating more calories during the morning and afternoon to take advantage of when their metabolism is highest, and fewer calories in the evening when metabolism tapers.
Eating in sync with your natural circadian rhythm can not only help with weight loss, but there are several health benefits as well, ranging from improvements in immune function, alertness and mood, preservation of muscle mass, management of appetite and hunger, as well as decreased risk for dementia.1-4
Rapid Results divides the day into two segments, a 12-hour nourishment period and a 12-hour rejuvenation period. During the nourishment period, members eat six times and choose from chef-crafted and nutritionist-designed meals. There is no counting calories, cooking, or meal prep and the daily menu is based upon appropriate nutrition for healthy weight loss. So, if you begin your 12-hour nourishment period at 8 a.m., you would end it at 8 p.m., when the rejuvenation period would begin. This rejuvenation period, which includes sleep, is a 12-hour window for your body to focus on “cleaning house” for repairing and regenerating your cells for the next day.
Eating in sync with your natural circadian rhythm can not only support your weight loss efforts, but studies indicate that there may be several other long-term health benefits, ranging from improvements in immune function, alertness and mood, management of appetite and hunger as well as a potentially decreased risk for dementia.1-4 A key benefit of the rejuvenation period is that body fat, especially belly fat, may decrease while muscle mass is maintained. 5,6 This reduction in belly fat decreases the risk of obesity as well as the risk of Type 2 diabetes.7
This exciting circadian rhythm science is now a new tool you can use to help manage your weight and potentially improve your long-term health. By paying attention to your own body clock, you may be better equipped to achieve your weight loss goals, potentially help prevent certain diseases, and enhance your energy, quality of life and overall wellness.
Are you interested in trying the new Rapid Results program? Book a free appointment to see how you can make your circadian rhythm work for you.
1 Longo, Valter D., and Satchidananda Panda. “Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan.” Cell Metabolism, vol. 23, no. 6, 14 June 2016, pp. 1048–1059., doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.06.001.
1 Peterson, C. Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “Time-Restricted Feeding Increases Fat Oxidation and Reduces Swings in Appetite Levels in Humans.” Oral abstract presentation at: The Obesity Society Annual Meeting at ObesityWeekSM 2016; October 31 – November 4, 2016. www.obesityweek.com.
2 Moro, Tatiana, et al. “Effects of eight weeks of time-Restricted feeding (16/8) on basal metabolism, maximal strength, body composition, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk factors in resistance-Trained males.” Journal of Translational Medicine, vol. 14, no. 1, 2016, doi:10.1186/s12967-016-1044-0.
3 Vyazovskiy, Vladyslav. “Sleep, recovery, and metaregulation: explaining the benefits of sleep.” Nature and Science of Sleep, 17 Dec. 2015, p. 171-184., doi:10.2147/nss.s54036.
4 Cirelli, Chiara, and Giulio Tononi. “Is Sleep Essential?” PLoS Biology, vol. 6, no. 8, 2008, doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060216.
5 Varady, K. A. “Intermittent versus daily calorie restriction: which diet regimen is more effective for weight loss?” Obesity Reviews, vol. 12, no. 7, 2011, pp. 593–601., doi:10.1111/j.1467-789x.2011.00873.x.
6 Mattson, Mark P., et al. “Meal frequency and timing in health and disease.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 111, no. 47, 17 Nov. 2014, pp. 16647–16653., doi:10.1073/pnas.1413965111.
7 Chaix, Amandine, et al. “Time-Restricted Feeding Is a Preventative and Therapeutic Intervention against Diverse Nutritional Challenges.” Cell Metabolism, vol. 20, no. 6, 2 Dec. 2014, pp. 991–1005., doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2014.11.001.