What if you could make two simple changes starting today, that wouldn't cost you any money, don't require any special equipment or knowledge, and could dramatically increase your energy, decrease your weight (if you need/want that) and improve your overall health? Would you be interested? In this article I outline the two steps you can start taking today to achieve these benefits.
The first step is known as Time Restricted Feeding (TRF), or Intermittent fasting (IF). This concept is based on the idea that when you eat is as important as what you eat. First, let's look at some of the science behind why this simple concept can have such powerful effects:
- TRF enhances autophagy. Autophagy is the cellular process of regeneration and renewal. Through the normal day-to-day process of keeping us alive, our cells go through tremendous wear and tear. Through autophagy, our cells clean out the damaged, worn-down organelles ("little organs" of the cells). They are chemically digested and reassembled into new, healthy cell parts. The same process applies to mitophagy, which takes place in the cells' energy centers, or mitochondria. Both autophagy and mitophagy are critical to healthy, well-functioning cells. When these processes don't work well, our cells stay damaged and get diseased, leading to illness and aging. In fact, a widely accepted theory of aging is known as the "mitochondrial theory of aging", and it states that aging happens as a result of damaged, malfunctioning mitochondria. This damage accumulates because of the decreased action of autophagy and mitophagy, both of which can only happen when our bodies are in a fasted state for many hours.
- Autophagy and mitophagy can only happen when our bodies get an extended break from digesting food. Most of us have an extended eating window, or number of hours we eat during the day, and therefore a very short fasting window, or number of hours without eating. Many people eat throughout the day from the time they wake up till the time they go to bed. If one wakes at 7 am and starts consuming anything that requires digestion (coffee with cream and/or sugar counts), they have effectively closed their fasting window and started their feeding window. Oftentimes, we are eating right up till we go to bed, even if it's small snacks or "just a little something". If you go to bed at 11, that's a feeding window of 16 hours, which is not enough time to allow the process of autophagy to effectively take place.
- Digestion is a very energy intensive process and disruptive to our sleep cycle. Eating less than 3 hours before bed time can lead to impaired sleep, impaired digestion, and heartburn or acid reflux. We all the know the feeling of going to bed with a full stomach. It's not comfortable or pleasant. Even small snacks in the evening can lead the the aforementioned problems, even if we don't "feel" uncomfortable from them. It takes our bodies time to digest food, and snacking in the evening (especially when it's done mindlessly while sitting in front of the TV) can lead to not actually finishing the digestion process before sleeping.
- We are diurnal creatures (from an evolutionary perspective, our circadian rhythm or internal body clock wants us to be awake during the day and asleep at night, even if our lifestyles don't lend themselves to that cycle) meaning that our digestive process is stronger earlier in the day and slower at night because we are preparing to sleep, not use the food we have just eaten. So our stomach produces less hydrochloric acid (HCL) which is our main digestive acid, our pancreas produces less insulin, our liver produces less enzymes and our digestion in general is much less efficient at night. This is also a set up for metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance, which can lead to obesity, diabetes and other chronic illness.
So what is the second step to dramatically increase your energy? Drink water first thing in the morning. Here's why it's so important:
- Autophagy and mitophagy clean out and regenerate our cells, and in the process they create metabolic toxins. These metabolic toxins are a normal and natural part of being alive, but if allowed to accumulate they can make us sluggish and have detrimental effects on our health. Drinking 16 OZ of water first thing in the morning, at least half an hour before consuming anything that requires digestion, helps to dilute these toxins and flush them our of our system. The half hour (or more) is important because once we start to eat, we shut down autophagy and the reduce the ability to rid our bodies of the accumulated toxins.
Have a shorter eating window and a longer fasting window. For example, eat only between the hours of 9 am and 7 pm, or 10 am and 8 pm. That's a 10 hour eating window and a 14 hour fasting window.
Stop eating anything at least 3 hours before bed. If you go to bed at 10 pm, stop eating by 7 pm. If you go to bed at 11 pm, then don't consume anything (except water) after 8 pm.
Drink 16 OZ of water first thing in the morning, at least 30 minutes before consuming anything that requires digestion.
One last point worth mentioning. A recent study showed that just reducing your eating window reduced fatigue by 45% in eight weeks. Study participants did not change what they were eating, only when they were eating it, and almost doubled their energy levels. So if these steps seem too simple to be helpful, give them a try for just eight weeks and find out for yourself how you can dramatically increase your energy and vitality!
If you are ready to take your health and energy even further, check out my e-course Six Weeks to Abundant Energy and learn the simple strategies and habits to make your energy levels skyrocket!