YOU are what you eat – and the time you eat it, les experts disent.
We tend to see foods as “good” and “bad”. But on top of that, the time you eat it can also play a huge role in your health.
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Some foods are best avoided late at night while others are optimal.
De même, picking foods that are energy boosting or slowly digested are best picked earlier in the day, as to not cause weight gain as you sleep.
Everyone’s body has a circadian rhythm, in other words a “body clock”.
It impacts appetite, digestion, blood-sugar levels and how we break down fat throughout the day.
This means your body naturally has times when it’s best placed to deal with foods of certain types.
As well as this, for a typical 9-5 ouvrier, they’ll want to keep their energy higher in the day, while lower towards the evening.
Using this as a guide to what to eat can avoid you working against your own body clock.
And there are all sorts of other ways to fuel your body with the right foods – from fruits, to nuts and even alcohol – to make sure it gets used in the best way and not shelved as extra fat.
Experts including nutritionist Kamilla Schaffner revealed to Courrier en ligne what to eat depending on the hour you get hungry…
7UN M: WATER
After a long night’s sleep, your body is dehydrated, including your brain.
This can make you feel groggy.
The best thing to start the day is a glass of water, Kamilla says.
And for boozers, she advises: “A squeeze of lemon and a drop of honey will help shift toxins in the liver if you drank alcohol the night before.”
8UN M: OATS
Of all the breakfast choices, Kamilla suggests oats to start the day as it releases energy slowly throughout the day.
Eating porridge means you shouldn’t experience a sudden dip in energy come mid-morning.
Kamilla said: “If weight loss is your goal, the earlier you eat carbohydrates the better, so you know that you will have the time to burn off this energy before you go to bed and they are stored as fat.”
Oats have also been shown to help weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and keep the heart healthy.
9UN M: COFFEE
It’s time to get caffeine into the veins as you start the working day.
Nutritionist Rick Hay says caffeine releases adrenaline into the blood stream that makes us more alert.
“It also increases the blood circulation to your brain which can improve concentration”, il a dit.
“So a cup at the start of your working day has the potential to boost performance.”
Avoid having coffee on an empty stomach as this could leave you feeling jittery, Kamilla said.
10UN M: SEEDS
If you feel peckish, pumpkin seeds are a great choice of snack because they will fill a hole without altering your blood sugar levels.
Pumpkin seeds are also a surprisingly good source of protein as well as unsaturated fats like omega-6.
They are packed with antioxidants, which help protect against diseases.
Kamilla said she would advise keeping away from pumpkin seeds after midday because “fats also need to be burned off before bedtime if you want to avoid weight gain”.
11UN M: CELERY
It’s not everyone’s choice of vegetable.
But celery is gaining in popularity as a juice for all sorts of health benefits.
Rick said: “Celery contains potassium — a mineral that helps lower sodium levels in the body, which are a sign of high blood pressure and stress,’ explains Hay.
“It is also a natural diuretic, which means it will remove excess fluid from the blood, reducing stress on artery walls and further lowering blood pressure.
“Plus it’s a great source of fibre to keep the digestive system healthy.”
The saying goes that it takes more calories to eat celery than it actually contains.
So as another mid-morning chew, it won’t ruin your appetite for lunch
Salmon is a very healthy choice of lunch due to its high omega-3 content.
Omega-3s boost brain function and generally keep the heart healthy.
Protein will also make you feel fuller for longer as it is the most satiating macronutrient.
It’s bound to win over a carb-heavy sandwich and packet of crisps, which can leave you feeling groggy within a couple of hours.
People are often unaware you need two portions of oily fish per week, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, for a healthy balanced diet.
Time to get those raw vegetables in – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, radishes and green leaves.
Kamilla says these types of foods are best at the middle of the day because that’s “when your metabolic rate is highest”.
Veggies are high in fibre which take a lot of effort for the digestive system to break down.
Therefore eating them too late in the day can leave you with a bloated and gassy stomach.
Why blueberries? This fruit has a low glycemic index (GI).
The glycemic index is a value given to each food based on how slowly or how quickly it increases blood glucose levels.
A low GI food is less likely to cause a rollercoaster in blood sugars.
Leave at least 40 minutes after your lunch before eating any sort of fruit, Kamilla says.
Too soon and “it will start fermenting before your main meal of protein and fibre, leading to indigestion and bloating”.
It’s mid-afternoon and chances are on a typical day, the sleepiness is kicking in.
While it’s easy to grab a chocolate bar for a sugar hit, a banana will provide the same but with extra vitamins and minerals.
Bananas – like all fruits – contain a healthy type of sugar as a complex carb.
Kamilla said: “The fructose it contains will be converted into glucose by the liver and give you a buzz before you give in and reach for that Mars Bar.”
4PM: VEG SMOOTHIE
If you’re still feeling sluggish, some veggies have the power to keep you alert.
Beetroot and ginger are both vasodilators, meaning they open up your blood vessels.
Rick says: “This allows more blood to travel to your brain, boosting concentration.”
Ginger also suppresses appetite – perfect for the few hours before dinner time.
5PM: FRUIT AND NUTS
5pm is a popular gym-going time.
And Rick says the “perfect pre-exercise food” is dried fruit with nuts.
“Dried fruit provides simple carbohydrates — or sugars — for an immediate energy burst, while the protein in almonds will give you a slower release of energy to sustain you.”
It’s a good idea to chase fruit with a small amount of fat, such as almonds, cashews or walnuts or cheese.
They stop the fruit from causing a spike in blood sugar, which will only cause a slump later on.
An after-work pint isn’t all that bad, nutritionists say.
The hops that give beer its bitter taste actually have a calming effect which is perfect for unwinding after a stressful day.
But Kamilla recommends not throwing back too many, or too late at night.
Elle a dit: “Your liver regenerates itself between 3am and 4am. If you are in the habit of waking up during the night, it could mean that you are drinking alcohol too late in the evening, and your liver can’t process it.”
Although beer drinking is often associated with a “beer belly”, it may actually be a better alcoholic choice if you’re watching your weight.
Beer is not as calorific and sugary as most cocktails or mixers.
A protein-rich meal at dinner time will avoid you reaching for too many snacks later in the evening.
And it also helps repair muscle tissue, which is necessary if you’ve exercised or been spending all day on your feet.
For meat-eaters, turkey is a top tier choice because, due to its low fat content, it won’t sit heavily in your stomach.
It also contains L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid that makes you feel sleepy as the night draws in.
Kamilla said: “Serve lean meat with cooked vegetables for your evening meal because they’re easiest to digest.”
Although some nutritionists say to avoid booze later in the evening, wine is a wiser choice if you do reach for the bottle.
One study in Israel found people who drank a glass of wine before bed slept better than those who drank water, according to nutritionist Laura Southern, from London Food Therapy.
But she said always drink wine after a meal, otherwise you’ll be waking up in the early hours of the morning.
If wine hits an empty stomach “it causes a spike in blood sugar levels that can lead to a crash after bedtime” and later “the body produces adrenaline to compensate”.
“An adrenaline surge overnight is known to wake you up, typically around 3am”, Laura a dit.
9PM: EDAMAME BEANS
For the times you’re about to go to bed but your stomach is grumbling, edamame beans are a good choice.
Low in calories and rich in protein and fibre, the green stuff is almost harmless.
They can “fill us up without leading to weight gain”, said Kamilla.
If you’re still up for eating at this late hour, go for asparagus, Laura a dit.
The aphrodisiac can get you in the mood for love as it’s believed to stimulate sex hormones.
Another choice for late-night snackers is cherries.
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The fruit contains melatonin, a hormone which gets you ready to sleep, with more in tart than sweet cherries.
Laura a dit: “Studies show cherry juice can increase melatonin circulation and improve sleep function.”
And if you struggle to get to sleep – “a small glass of tart cherry juice or a handful of tart cherries an hour before you turn in for the night could have the desired effect”, Laura added.