Along with ketogenic diets, forms of intermittent fasting have become popular with people who are trying to shed pounds. Although there are a few variations to choose from, they all revolve around restricting the time of day you start to eat in order to spend a large chunk of your time fasting. Most people practicing intermittent fasting wait until later in the day to have their first meal, but a new method known as the Sun Cycle Diet is suggesting that we flip that method around with something called “reverse fasting.”
What is reverse fasting?
Amy Shah, MD explains on mindbodygreen that reverse fasting simply means that instead of skipping breakfast and waiting for a meal later in the day, you should start eating in the morning. For example, you can wake up and have a healthy breakfast at 6 a.m., then stop eating completely after an early dinner. The idea is partly based on a study from August 2018 that had participants push their dinner 90 minutes earlier than usual and their breakfast 90 minutes later, which sent signals to their body to burn more fat.
This method of time-restricted eating is based on our individual circadian rhythms (which is basically our body’s internal clock) and, as the name suggests, embracing the “power of the sun,” says Dr. Shah. She recommends having your breakfast and dinner earlier in the day and starting your fast no later than 8 p.m. in order to give your body time to digest the food you’ve eaten. According to Dr. Shah, “When the sun goes down, usually the actions of digestion are turned off and the actions of repair and restoration are turned on.” Therefore, eating a big meal in the evening can lead to packing on weight and potentially develop into ailments like diabetes or gut issues, which the diet can help avoid.
How to Do the Sun Cycle Diet Correctly
As you may have guessed, the sun plays a big role in this diet’s ability to work. On top of the reverse fasting, Shah claims that taking a few moments each morning to walk outside and soak in the sun’s rays will send signals to your brain that it’s time to reset for the day. This again has to do with our circadian rhythms, and can also help with getting a better rest at night.
Dieters can choose whatever they'd like to eat, since there are no food group restrictions or calorie counting on the Sun Cycle diet (though Shah recommends consuming no more than 20 calories in the time between meals). On two days out of every week, Shah suggests extending your fast to 16 hours by eating breakfast later and moving your dinner earlier. During the plan, you should aim for your bedtime to be somewhere between 9 and 11 p.m., and aim to wake up between 5:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. She claims that even night owls will be able to get the hang of this schedule by getting their circadian rhythm running back on the right track.
If done correctly, Shah claims the diet can help with more than just weight loss, listing benefits such as anti-inflammation, better digestion, improved hormonal function, and warding off disease. Of course, you should talk with your doctor before starting this or any other major diet to make sure it's a good choice for you.