Timing is everything—especially when it comes to living your best life.
Recently, nutritional scientists discovered that a naturally occurring cellular cleanup process called autophagy can drastically reduce toxins in our system, enhance our ability to lose weight, deter illness and improve overall wellness. And what's even better news, since the process already takes place inside of us, you just need to "turn it on" to reap the many benefits. Naomi Whittel, a nutritional wellness expert, and the author of Glow15: A Science-Based Plan to Lose Weight, Revitalize Your Skin, and Invigorate Your Life, shares her weight loss strategy, focusing on autophagy to flip the switch and get your body working in overdrive.
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One way to spark autophagy is through scheduled eating, intermittent fasting, and protein cycling. Instead of dieting around the clock, commit to three "low" and four "high" days per week. On each low day, restrict your food intake to within eight hours a day and consume no more than 25 grams of protein, such as a four-ounce piece of chicken. On high days, indulge in healthy fats and carbs for as long as you wish. "If you nourish your body with what it needs and get away from processed foods, having to control your portions is not an issue," insists Whittel. However, whether it's a high or low day, she strongly recommends that you push away from the table at least three hours before going to sleep so that the body can focus on repair, not digestion.
Eat With Intention
The order of daily food intake is ideally "fats first and then healthy carbs last," Whittel says. "Consuming carbohydrates in the morning will spike your blood glucose level and cause mood swings, fatigue, headaches, and cravings." On the contrary, if the majority of the foods you eat from morning through lunch are fatty—the good kind, like avocado and nuts—your body will most likely transform the fat into fuel sans side effects. Ingesting complex carbs such as whole grains, including brown rice, legumes, and sweet potatoes, for dinner has the least adverse impact on your blood glucose levels. Plus, carbs support your body's production of serotonin, which induces deep sleep.
Exercise Smart, Not Hard
A huge frustration many face when it comes to exercise is actually carving out the time needed to work out. However, Whittel says, "autophagy is optimized when it's turned on and off, like breathing in and out." So you don't have to hit the gym daily, she explains. Instead, do high-intensity interval training like cycling, have sex or walk at different speeds twice a week, and perform a resistance workout, such as Pilates, barre or yoga, for the other two high days for at least 30 minutes. Then you'll be good to go. And since it's a high day, chow down on some protein within 30 minutes of cooling down, advises Whittel.
Remember To Rest
Getting enough shut-eye is essential for weight loss because it allows your body to conduct its daily repair and cell rejuvenation. To maximize your rest, Whittel recommends identifying your ideal sleep type to better understand your sleeping pattern and keeping the bedroom cool (65 degrees) to decrease your temperature. Lowering it aligns your body with its circadian rhythm. Also use a sound machine or even an app on your phone that emits brown or pink noises to balance your hormones, and turn off other electronics 90 minutes before turning in.
Take Care Of You
As you adopt habits for weight release, be sure to watch your skin as well. It is the body's largest organ and often reflects what's happening internally. According to Whittel, incorporating natural ingredients like tea seed oil, green tea, sea salt, coconut oil and blueberries in your facial and body products can help trigger cell cleanup. Most important, explains Whittel, "[A good skin care regimen] will help you look how you feel on the inside—vibrant and healthy."