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Everything you need to know about the clockwork diet

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 09/01/2018 Samuel fishwick

a woman wearing sunglasses © Provided by Evening Standard Limited Your body is inconstant. It’s not just what you eat but when you eat it that matters, and your body clock is the first dietary instrument you should turn to. In 2018 we count minutes, not calories.

The clockwork diet is simple: you need to limit the window in which you’re eating to eight hours on,16 hours off. In other words, this means you could have breakfast at 11am and be finishing off your dinner at 7pm — which, as Kim Pearson, a London nutritionist, points out, is totally doable. “Time-restricted eating doesn’t require calorie restriction or going for extended periods of time without food,” she observes. “It particularly suits individuals who don’t have a natural desire to eat breakfast.

“Consume all food during an eight hour period every day. For example, eat between 11am and 7pm, then between 7pm and 11am have only water. Some individuals choose to skip either breakfast or dinner, eating just two substantial meals per day.

Others consume three meals per day within a shorter time frame than usual. Consider daily routine and personal preferences in order to find a time frame that works for the individual.”

Leaving a long period between dinner and bedtime also has knock-on benefits, such as better sleep. “Eating late is inefficient in terms of digestion,” says Rhian Stephenson, CEO of Psycle and a qualified nutritionist. “You want to aim for as close to three hours without food before bed as possible.

Being full when you go to bed can result in poor sleep, less energy on waking and incomplete digestion.

“Reducing your feeding window is founded on the principles of intermittent fasting and digestive rest. If our digestive system is constantly overloaded with food, not only does it drain our energy but digestion becomes less efficient and we are not able to use metabolic energy to burn fat or repair damaged tissue”. The clockwork diet gives your body a break.

Simply put, Londoners like rules. Shorthands such as the 5:2 diet not only structure our lives, they give us one fewer thing to think about, freeing up metal bandwidth. Very little else about life in the capital runs like clockwork — but creating meal time rules can impose a bit of order. 

Saying that, though, the beauty of the clockwork diet is that you could also shift your hours forward or backwards, according to your plans: it’s the sort of order that also permits flexibility. For example, if you’re going out for dinner, you could save yourself until 1pm, and extend the evening eating period until 9pm — which is what personal trainer and co-founder of the Boxx Method, Louis Rennocks, does. That means you can still go for a meal out.

© Getty Moreover, some savvy worker bees might find a model of eating breakfast late, and lunch later still, fits into their working day nicely: ultimately, taking a lunch break at 2pm means by the time you get back, you’re more than halfway through your afternoon. And if you end up cheating on a single day, it’s pretty easy to get back on track.

So you’re operating during an eight-hour window — what should your plate look like to keep you firing on all cylinders? As per usual, nutritionists advise (relative) balance. “Eat a little bit of protein, a little low GI carbohydrate and a little fat at every meal,” says Louise Parker, a nutritionist whose three-phase programme tries to rebalance lifestyles at clinics on Walton Street and within The Wellness Clinic at Harrods. “This may sound daunting or complex but once you understand the building blocks, it’s just second nature. The possibilities are endless and doable on the road or in flight.” Moreover, ensure your final meal of the day is loaded with filling protein to help you last out the fast. 

And while it might be tempting to start scoffing as soon as the clock strikes mealtime, be mindful about chewing your food properly, too. “When you do eat, take your time over the meal”, says Gabriela Peacock, a celebrity nutritionist. “Practice ‘Mindful Eating’ and chew thoroughly, savouring each mouthful.” Chewing for 20 to 30 seconds is recommended. It is thought chewing for longer prevents over-eating by giving the brain more time to receive signals from the stomach that it is full. Plus, if you’re restricting your eating hours, you’ll want to savour every bite.

Relax, then chew it, when you want to get to it. Time is on your side if you’ll let it be.

Eat Like Clockwork

1. The golden rule is eight hours on, 16 hours off.

2. During the week, eat food between 11am and 7pm. Between 7pm and 11am, consume only water.

3. At weekends you could shift this to 1pm to 9pm, so you can still go out for dinner.

4. Don’t fret too much if you get your timings wrong one day — it’s easy to reset the clock.

5. Each meal should include a bit of fat, a bit of low-GI carbohydrate and a bit of protein — it will keep you full during the fast.

6. Chew food slowly: between 20 and 30 seconds is recommended.

Related: Do These Things Daily To Get Rid Of Bloating (Provided by Wochit News)

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