October 12, 2018
Nowadays, it seems like a new diet pops up at least once a week. While that number may be slightly dramatic, here I am, introducing to you all a newly trending way of eating: the sun cycle diet. Pair it with your sun salutations and you’re one heck of a sunny individual.
All jokes aside, the sun cycle diet involves two main things: reverse fasting and direct sunlight on your skin every morning. Now, you’re probably thinking: I’ve heard of intermittent fasting, but WTF is ‘reverse fasting?’ Well, according to Dr. Amy Shah, an integrative medicine doctor reporting for MindBodyGreen, reverse fasting is a form of intermittent fasting that: instead of skipping breakfast and eating dinner later in the day, you begin your fast earlier in the day — around 5 or 6 p.m. — and spend 12 to 15 hours fasting into the next day. Essentially, you eat breakfast at 7 a.m. and dinner at 6 p.m. and then fast until the next morning at 7 a.m.
Shah assures there’s no food restrictions beyond these eating timeframes, and calls out this study on reverse fasting, which found that pushing dinner up 90 minutes and breakfast 90 minutes later than the normal time, your body will respond by burning fat — a major reason why folks fast.
According to Shah, reverse fasting is all about the power of the sun and your circadian rhythm to determine your eating and sleep schedules. Since all of our cells and, therefore, organs have their own circadian rhythms, digestion begins to slow as the sun goes down and the internal process of restoration begins. This is where the argument against late night snacks — if you’re trying to shed some pounds — comes in because digestion is much slower at night.
Shortly after sunrise in the morning is when digestion kicks back into gear, creating the idea that it might be better to eat breakfast and skip dinner, instead of the more commonly practiced alternative, Shah suggests.
If you’re smitten with this reasoning and interested in giving reverse fasting a try, you’ll want to follow this plan: begin by fasting 12 to 13 hours a day between your early dinner and late breakfast, and try to push it to 16 hours between meals twice a week. And remember, during fasts your can only consumer water or beverages up to 20 calories, reminds Shah.
Once you get your fasting together, you’ll want to get your sleep sun cycle diet-approved. Shah suggests setting your bedtime between 9 and 11 p.m. and your wake up call should ring in between 5:30 and 8 a.m. for the best sleep health — even if you’re a self-proclaimed night owl.
Lastly, we’ll loop back around to that sunlight scenario mentioned earlier. Scoring two to five minutes of direct sunlight before 10 a.m. — whether it be from your dog walk or a sun lamp — “sends signals to your suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus and resets your brain. And the benefits of this extend beyond sleep to better hormone regulation,” Shah explains.
This dietary concept — as funky as it may sound — is recommended by Shah to “all physicians as easy ways to improve inflammation, digestion, hormones, and disease.” So, if you're struggling in any of those areas, the sun cycle diet might be worth a try.
Current intermittent fasters, would you be down to try reverse fasting? Lay it on us in the comments below!