Our body’s natural rhythms may be the key to unlocking our energy, motivation and productivity! By understanding how our bodies work and engineering our time and work around those natural cycles can allow us to live in a state of flow and maximise our energy.
Humans have a natural circadian clock which aligns our body’s biological processes according to the time of day. Our brain relies on light and dark signals to control our behaviour such as sleep, hunger and wakefulness. Consequently, this controls our liver, muscle, fat and pancreas especially during the times the body expects nutrients. When our bodies are balanced and in line with our natural rhythm, not only will our bodies function more effectively, but it makes it easier to stick to a healthy lifestyle. It is through this regimen that we experience our maximum energy levels and our metabolism is at its highest. Our body’s metabolism is like the engine of a car. Its purpose is to turn raw ingredients that we eat into fuel and other resources that our body requires to function. We, therefore, need to understand this process to perform our best physically and mentally. This is also vital for those wanting to lose weight. By increasing our basic metabolic rate, the rate of our metabolism speeds up hence the faster we burn fat and quicker we recover.
We can split the day into 6 sections according to the body’s natural rhythm; 6am-10am, 10am-2pm, 2pm-6pm, 6pm-10pm, 10pm-2am and 2am-6am. During each stage, important biological processes take place and if these are disrupted our bodies start to feel sluggish and fatigued. It can also increase our risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and inflammatory disorders. Note, these times are generalised and some individuals may have cycles that start earlier or later than these times, but for some people, we recommend trying these times and finding out for yourself.
Natural Rhythm Phase 1; 6am-10am
The sun is rising and our bodies are preparing for the day ahead. We have all heard it a thousand times, but yes, this is the time of day that we MUST eat something to boost our metabolism. Skipping breakfast will result in our metabolism slowing down and not working effectively and consequently diminishing our performance for the rest of the day. Cleansing drinks are also essential upon rising due to their ability to remove the build-up of toxins from the digestive system that occurs overnight, which assists absorption of nutrients during the day. These are also a great alternative for those who feel nauseous if they eat something within the first hour or so of waking up. Gradually, the body will become in line with its natural circadian rhythm again and eating breakfast will no longer be a problem and become more of a craving. A cleansing drink should be at room temperature, acidic in composition as well as hydrating. Most people have a slice of lemon (and mint) in a glass of water. I personally find it easy to incorporate these two things in my drink bottle and sip on it on the way to work, while others prefer to scull skull it down. These methods are both affective and it is just a matter of finding what works best for you.
Natural Rhythm Phase 2; 10am-2pm
For most people this is the time when we are being very productive at work or home. During this phase, our metabolism really starts to speed up and therefore it is the perfect time of day to consume food to power our physical and mental activities. Eating raw fruit will provide optimal enzymes to our digestive tract which will further assist our bodies to be efficient in processing the food we eat. Bromelain and papain are proteolytic enzymes (cysteine proteinases) that assist the digestion of protein. They do this by cutting them up into smaller components, which can pass through the lining of the digestive tract more readily, making the nutrients more accessible for our bodies to use. For those wanting to lose weight and burn fat, these are ideal to consume. They are also a natural anticoagulant (can help symptoms of angina and thrombophlebitis), mucolytic (helps thin mucous for asthmatics and those with a cold) and assists treating muscle injuries and inflammatory conditions through its digestive aid and anti-inflammatory actions. There is also currently a suggestion that bromelain may have an effect on white blood cells and improve immune function. Bromelain and papain are found in fresh pineapple and papaya respectively and a perfect choice of fruit to eat for morning tea. However, some individuals may be allergic to bromelain in which case these fruits should be avoided and those taking anticoagulant medication should check with a health professional first.
Natural Rhythm Phase 3; 2pm-6pm
During this time of day your metabolism starts to slow down as your body recognises the energy requirements for the day are diminishing. During this time protein rather than carbohydrates should be consumed. Performing aerobic exercise, such as running or bike riding, is one exception that can boost your metabolic rate. By incorporating exercise and a light dinner with minimal carbohydrates your body will start to burn fat.
Natural Rhythm Phase 4; 6pm-10pm
After a long day, your body starts to wind down and relax. Melatonin, a hormone responsible for the body’s day and night cycle, secretion peaks during this stage promoting sleep. It is extremely important to not eat too much during this time. Small snacks such as walnuts or peanuts, which are high in melatonin and protein, are perfect for this time of day. Calcium also increases the production of melatonin and therefore a small amount of yoghurt, cheese or almonds is also an ideal after dinner snack. It is essential that the body gets lots of water during this time frame to increase the water content of the colon. Raw vegetables will also fire up the bodies healing process and provide antioxidants to assist the removal of toxins.
Natural Rhythm Phase 5; 10pm-2am
It is finally time to rejuvenate and the body to eventually reach a deep sleep cycle, with all our senses turned off. During this time we have no sense of smell, hearing or feeling. Those who are light sleepers do not enter this cycle easily and will generally wake up by small noises. Increasing melatonin levels or managing other factors such as stress, cramping and discomfort will assist individuals develop a deeper and more effective recovery sleep. It may be helpful to dim down the lights, have a warm bath/shower and try to switch your mind off from your daily activities (eg. read a book, meditation) an hour before going to bed.
Natural Rhythm Phase 6; 2am-6am
Slowly our body starts waking up and preparing ourselves for another day. Some of us enjoy doing this through mediation, exercising or creative tasks. It is an important time of day to smile and appreciate what we have and the goals we would like to achieve for the day and in the future.
It can be challenging or impossible for some people, such as shift workers, to align their body’s natural circadian rhythm, with their lifestyle. However, for those who can, it provides a significant advantage to your overall health and helps provide you with the energy and drive to reach your life goals.
References for Our body’s natural rhythms:
- Bass J, Takahashi JS. Circadian integration of metabolism and energetics. Science. 2010;330(6009):1349-54.
- Braun J, Schneider B, Beuth H. therapeutic use, efficiency and safety of the proteolytic pineapple enzyme Bromelain-POS® in children with acute sinusitis in germany. in vivo. 2005;19(2):417-21.
- Stone MB, Merrick MA, Ingersoll CD, Edwards JE. Preliminary comparison of bromelain and ibuprofen for delayed onset muscle soreness management. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. 2002;12(6):373-8.
- Rennie J. The Metabolic Clock Cookbook: Recipes to Speed Up Your Metabolism: Rockpool Publishing; 2014.