Sometimes it's not what you eat, but rather when you eat! Eating at the right times can help you lose weight and improve your health if you do it correctly. The What to Eat When plan created by Drs. Roizen and Crupain focuses on just that. Wondering what to expect, what actually counts as breaking a fast, and how circadian rhythms play a role? Keep reading to get all your questions about the What to Eat When plan anwered.
What is the What to Eat When plan?
It’s a breakthrough new way of eating that takes into account not just what you eat, but when you eat it. Our metabolism changes throughout the day and by eating the right foods at the right times, science suggests you can maximize health and weight loss benefits. It’s based on the book What To Eat When by Dr. Michael Roizen, Chief Wellness Officer of the Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Michael Crupain, head of the Medical Unit at The Dr. Oz Show.
Why do our circadian rhythms play a role in weight loss?
Our circadian rhythm is our body’s internal clock. This clock is set by the sun and helps our body be prepared to do the right thing at the right time. We all know it’s important for helping us fall asleep and wake up, but it also determines how the body handles energy. It turns out that our circadian rhythm primes our body to eat at certain times and fast at others by fine-tuning our metabolism. Eating in sync with our body clock should help take advantage of when your body wants to burn energy instead of storing it and lead to weight loss.
What are the health benefits of eating according to one's own circadian rhythms?
Eating when your body is primed for food should improve your heart health, energy levels, sleep, weight loss, and overall health.
How many hours of sleep do you recommend I aim for?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
How long do you recommend following this eating plan?
Eating on the What to Eat When plan is not meant to be a diet, but a way of life. You can start it gradually or as quickly as you want, but we recommend sticking with it, because of the positive effects it should have on your health.
What happens if I'm starving during a time when I'm not supposed to be eating?
You will find that if you follow the What to Eat When plan, your hunger patterns will change. After a short time of eating in sync with your circadian rhythm, you won’t be hungry when you’re not supposed to be eating. But things happe,m and sometimes you might end up skipping a meal or getting hungry when you don’t want to be. In this case, we recommend a few things. First, try drinking some water, sometimes this is enough to satisfy your hunger. If you are truly starving, don’t sweat it. Have a handful of walnuts or some crunchy vegetables and hummus. Remember it takes time for your brain to catch up with your stomach and realize you’re not hungry anymore, so try not to overdo it.
What actually counts as breaking a fast?
When you’re eating on the What to Eat When plan, you want the time between when you finish eating at the end of the day and when you start eating again the next to be at least 12 hours or longer. This is a form of intermittent fasting. Eating during this window would be breaking the fast, but drinking water would not count.
I take medications. Will this diet have any impact on those?
If you take medications for diabetes or blood pressure, you may see an improvement in your numbers and need to lower your medications. Please consult with your doctor before starting and during the plan.
Are there any medical conditions to take into consideration before starting this plan?
If you have any serious medical conditions or are pregnant please talk to your doctor before starting this or any plan. This plan may help improve your heart health and blood sugar levels, which may require a change in medication dosages, so please consult your doctor.
Are any foods off-limits on this diet?
Simple carbs like sugar and white flour should be avoided as much as possible when eating on this plan. It’s also best to limit cheese and red meat. If you eat these foods, don’t worry, you can start fresh every morning when the sun rises.
What happens during daylight savings time? Does that throw off the diet?
When you are eating on the What to Eat When plan you want to eat with the sun. During daylight savings time you can continue as usual, but since the sun is out for longer this time of year you actually can eat over a longer window. That being said, we still recommend trying to have at least 12 hours before your last meal and your first meal the next day.
What if I’m traveling out of the country? How do I adapt to the time difference?
The biggest issue with traveling is jetlag. Some experts recommend a 16 to 24 hour fast before and during travel. Time it so that your first meal in the new country is 16 to 24 hours after the last at home. In some countries lunch is the biggest meal of the day, so it may be even easier to eat on the plan when traveling.
If I skip meals or snacks will I lose more weight?
When you eat less food you will lose more weight. The only meal we recommend skipping is dinner, provided you’ve had a large breakfast and lunch. This will let you lengthen the window between your last meal and first the next day. The most important thing is not to starve yourself. If you’re not eating foods that taste delicious and feel like your depriving yourself you will not be successful.
What can I drink on this diet? Is there a time limit for drinking?
You can drink water, coffee, tea, and of course a glass of wine. We don’t recommend sugar-sweetened beverages or diet soda which may cause changed in the gut microbiome and cravings.
I’m going to a party or event after 5 p.m. Is it bad if I eat something?
When you are eating on this plan, you want to make dinner your smallest meal of the day. If you go to an event after 5 p.m. there is nothing wrong with having something to eat, just make sure you’ve eaten most of your food that day for breakfast or lunch. In fact, we recommend making dinner a “Happy Hour" like you might find at a party. Try to avoid simple carbs and stick to vegetables.
Can I be on this plan if I’m pregnant?
If you are pregnant please talk to your doctor before starting this plan.
I’ve been on this diet for a few days and I’m starting to feel sick. What should I do?
The What to Eat When plan should not make you feel sick. If you are feeling sick, please consult your doctor.
What are appropriate portions when I’m eating?
You can have about 7 oz of protein a day, four servings of carbs (which is about four slices of bread), up to four tablespoons of olive oil, 1 oz of nuts, and/or half an avocado, and unlimited non-starchy vegetables. If you are not losing the weight you would like, try cutting back a little on carbs or fats and adding more vegetables.
I’m not used to eating at the times you suggest. Is there a way to help me get on track?
Most Americans are not used to eating during the times recommended on this plan – it was even a big change for Drs. Roizen and Crupain. To get on track they recommend slowly shifting the way you eat, so you eat a little less in the evening each day and save what you don’t eat for the next day. There is a complete 31-day plan to help get you on track in their book What To Eat When.
I don’t have time to eat my small dinner before the sun sets in the winter since it happens too early, what should I do?
That’s ok, just try to eat it as early as you can. Try to have at least 12 hours between when you finish your dinner and have your meal the next day.