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Continued: Body clock: Best times to eat, sleep and exercise

  • Article by: ALLIE SHAH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 21, 2013 - 9:10 AM

Yet some trainers and fitness coaches say people should just keep it simple: The best time to exercise is whenever works best for you. “As a physiologist, I don’t care when you do it. Just do it,” said Mark Blegen, chair of the Exercise and Nutrition Sciences department at St. Catherine University.

Blegen prefers to exercise in the morning.

When to fuel up

When it comes to eating, experts differ on timing.

“From a scientific standpoint, there have been studies that say eating smaller meals, more frequently can be beneficial. So, eating every two hours,” said Katherine Zeratsky, a registered dietitian with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. “There’s equivalent research that says eating three meals is adequate.”

But they’re unanimous on the importance of breakfast. It keeps your mind sharp and can prevent overeating later. Some say you should eat within an hour of waking up, while others say within two hours is ideal.

So when should you stop eating for the day? Many diets ban foods after 7 p.m. as a way to discourage snacking on unhealthy foods. Sleep experts say eating late at night, especially anything with caffeine, will raise your heart rate and prevent you from falling asleep on time. But some nutritionists see little harm in eating past 7 p.m. and one even recommends having a healthy snack an hour before sleeping.

“This is where we might differ from a lot of people,” said Darlene Kvist, founder of Nutritional Weight and Wellness in the Twin Cities. “We believe that an hour before you go to bed, you need to have a snack with a little fat and a little bit of carbohydrates. The fat helps to stabilize blood sugars through the night so [people] sleep more soundly and deeper and they’re more rested in the morning.”

Indeed, early risers stand to benefit from several wellness pursuits timed perfectly for the morning hours.

Erik Storlie teaches meditation at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, where his students often ask “when should I meditate?” He tells them that they must find their own optimum time, but generally, one of the best times is when you wake up — when the world is quiet. He also suggested pausing in the middle of the day, and just before you lay your head on the pillow at night.

The body’s inner clock can even help you perform better in other, more surprising, wellness areas.

Levels of oxytocin, also called the “love hormone,” are highest in the morning hours. Men’s testosterone levels also peak early in the day.

When it comes to having great sex, it seems, everyone should be a morning person.


Allie Shah • 612-673-4488

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