THE FUNCTIONAL EATING PLAN Our bodies have remarkable metabolic capabilities.
The challenge is knowing how to realize this metabolic potential. Functional eating is a powerful new tool to
help do just that. Recognizing how the body’s metabolic needs change over the course of the day is the first step to implementing a func-
tional eating plan. There are three primary functional intervals in the day:
7AM to 9AM When you are sleeping, your body calls upon energy reserves stored in muscle and fat cells to maintain minimal function. This process involves the stress hor- mone cortisol. Just prior to daybreak, cortisol levels are highest. The morning interval is critical to reduce cortisol levels and prime your metabolic machinery.
9AMto 5PM We are hardwired to be active during daylight hours. As a result, the metabolic machinery that converts food into energy is in a heightened state of activation during this interval.
5PMto 11PM During this period of the day, the pathways responsible for building and repairing protein are most active.
Functional eating is simply amatter of eating appropriately for each functional time period of the day. Doing so is as easy as following these seven basic guidelines. Never skip breakfast. The ideal breakfast consists of about 80% carbs and 20% protein. This ratio will not only reduce cortisol levels, but also replenish muscle energy stores depleted while you were sleeping.
Eat high-carbohydrate foods between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. to ensure that the muscles and brain have sufficient energy.
Decrease consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods throughout the afternoon and evening.
Consume 55% of your daily calories by 1 p.m. to parallel the body’s energy needs.
Eat high-protein foods between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. The protein turnover circuit is most active during this period because it is not competing with the path- ways responsible for generating energy.
Keep fat intake to a minimum in the morning and throughout most of the day, but increase your intake of healthy (mainly plant) fats in the evening. Since these fats are especially potent suppressors of hunger, this strategy helps keep you full in the period between dinner and bedtime.
Whatever time of day you work out, make sure you pay close attention to your fueling and recovery nutrition.
— Robert Portman, PhD, a well-known sports science researcher, is coauthor of “Nutrient Timing.” “The Functional Eating Plan” is summarized from his latest book, “Hardwired for Fitness.”
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tuning in to your body’s rhythms Portman says that our Paleolithic ancestors relied on survival mecha- nisms that had a lot to do with the timing of our metabolic pathways and circadian rhythms, those 24-hour biological clocks that drive our physiological processes. “There’s a tremendous body of research that shows that circadian rhythms control all of these pathways,” say Portman. “They’re part of our DNA.” He gives an example of somebody
whoworks a graveyard shift. “We are not nocturnal creatures.We don’t have the eyesight or hearing to hunt at night. Night-shiftworkers tend to have amuch higher incidence of type 2 diabetes and obesity, and the reason is that they can’t process food into energy very efficiently.” These “hardwired” genetic qualities
are one reason why most diets don’t work: They go against our body’s natu- ral metabolic rhythms. The solution, says Portman, is timing your training and nutrition to take advantage of the way our bodies are primed to operate. “If you begin to resynchronize your metabolic circuitry, your fitness circuitry, it becomes far easier to get into shape and stay in shape,” says Portman. “That’s really what ‘Hardwired for Fitness’ is about.”
“Much of the current thinking about diet and exercise isn’t really consistent with how our bodies really work,” says Portman.
The book presents detailed training
charts, meal plans and clear directives on how to take advantage of the “four functional intervals of the day” and the best times of the day for your body to utilize carbs and protein.
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