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Managing Your Day, According to Your Body’s Natural Clock

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By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD

Whether or not you realize it, your body has its own natural clock it runs by, and we can either take action to support the clock or work against it. In this blog post, I’m going to explain what works against the clock and outline a sample schedule of how best we can support it.

Working With the Clock

There are three main disruptors that knock our clocks off – these are food, sleep (light) and stress.

To reset the clock, work with your clock and not against it.

A few things to know:

It’s ideal for food intake to complement hormone fluctuations, not cause a roller-coaster reaction.

To get good sleep, work with the natural light and dark cycle. Spending time on screens or taking medications and caffeine can cause a forced alertness.

Decease cortisol, which increases belly fat, by doing mindful eating and meditation. This will help with stress.

Your Sample Day

With that in mind, here’s a sample of what a day looks like, working with your body clock.

7am

Rise with the sun at about 7 am.

In the am, your melatonin has decreased. Insulin and cortisol are rising. Get out of bed and use these hormones for a natural high. These are the hormones that increase alertness (think flight or fight). This also means your blood sugar is likely already raising from glucagon. Get dressed and ready for the day.

8am

Eat now because your insulin and cortisol have already peaked and are on a downward trend. Eat all three macronutrients to prevent spikes in blood sugar and of course, its transporter, insulin.

9am

Space out the coffee as the caffeine can increase cortisol and release of stored sugar. We are always trying to prevent excessive surges for any hormones.

10 – 11 am

Time for a mid-morning snack to prevent an overly hungry feeling at lunch. This is to prevent overeating later, and aid in overcoming restrictive eating.

12pm – 2:30pm

Eat lunch! Eat every three to four hours to work with the rate your stomach empties, and again to prevent causing any excess surges in hormones like grehlin, or even insulin from eating a large lunch.

3:30pm

Lost alertness, right? Well, this is consistent with the body’s clock naturally lowering the production of cortisol, insulin, and even blood sugar. But this decrease is greatest at this time of the day and we all feel it.

That means we can get these hormones back up to the playing field with a walk and a snack. The walk will naturally increase cortisol and the food will provide blood sugar and of course psychological satisfaction which is essential when dealing with feeding and eating.

6:30pm

Eat your dinner before the sleep hormone, melatonin, increases.

8:00pm

Project self – Do an activity rather than eat and off set your night’s circadian rhythm. Your body is typically fueled and not needing food yet. When we eat at this time, we might be engaging in behavioral eating.

10pm

Bring cortisol down with mindfulness and meditation.

Melatonin increases, cortisol decreases and the body enters a hibernation mode. The body knows darkness means no threats, so sleep is okay. Aim for 8 hours of sleep for optimal metabolism and normal appetite the next day.

For more info on maintaining your body clock, pick up The Women’s Health Body Clock Diet.