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We Now Know When We Burn the Most Calories, Thanks to a Brutal Study

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

Can you imagine living more than a month in total isolation from the rest of the world? That’s what 10 volunteers did to help researchers learn when our bodies burn the most calories. Living in a room with no windows, clocks, phones or internet allowed the study subjects’ circadian rhythms to take over, subsequently revealing that we burn the most calories in the afternoon, and the fewest late at night, said.

Researchers said that while there is still more investigating to be done on this issue, the study may help us understand why eating late at night or too early in the morning might contribute to weight gain.

If you’ve been one of my readers for any time at all, you know that I’m a huge proponent of both intermittent fasting and not eating at least three hours before bedtime. And while the featured study may be limited in that there were only 10 participants over 13 separate trials, the fact still remains that this study points toward reaffirming that it’s a good idea not to eat at night.

It’s also noteworthy that the study subjects slept eight to 10 hours a night. Nearly every cell in your body has its own circadian clock, which regulates the activation and deactivation of your genes, and previous studies have shown that sleeping less than six hours a night dramatically increases your risk of insulin resistance, which is at the core of most chronic diseases.

This means that meal timing has a significant impact on your circadian rhythm, as many of your organs need between 12 and 16 hours of rest. Put a different way, your organs need a minimum of 12 hours without food, to allow them time for repair — and the best time to do that is the 12 hours before you wake in the morning.

To that end, intermittent fasting is one of the most effective interventions for not only giving your organs that needed rest, but for activating your body’s fat-burning mode and regulating your insulin levels. Essentially, intermittent fasting gives your body more time to effectively digest what you are eating and to eliminate waste.

The bottom line is, while you may cringe at the thought of skipping meals or limiting your eating to certain hours of the day, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest the health benefits of doing so could have a dramatic, positive effect on your sense of well-being.

The type of intermittent fasting I recommend and personally use involves restricting your daily eating schedule to a specific window of time. Based on the experimenting I have done in recent years, I suggest a six- to eight-hour timeframe in which to consume your daily food intake.

For example, if you skip breakfast and make lunch the first meal of your day, you might restrict your food intake to the hours of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. If breakfast serves you better, your window could be between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The key is to eat only two meals, and to ensure you eat the last meal at least three hours before bedtime. When you eat three or more meals a day, you rarely, if ever, empty your glycogen stores, mainly because it takes about eight to 12 hours to burn the sugar stored in your body as glycogen. Intermittent fasting will dramatically change the way your body processes food for fuel.

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