By Jo Finzi
To get the maximum from your body, there’s a perfect time for everything. Your internal clock governs your muscle strength and energy levels – as well as your emotions and mental powers. If you tune in to your body clock, you’ll definitely get the most out of the day.
This is the ideal programme to get into once Ramadan is over as it will help reset your body’s circadian clock the healthy way.
6.30am • Get up
Don’t try to wake up too early. Researchers have found that people who rise very early have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, irrespective of how long they’ve slept. Most heart attacks happen before noon!
7.00am • Fuel up
Your body surges with neuropeptide Y, turning on your taste for carbs. The ideal breakfast is a glass of pure juice to kick-start your blood-glucose levels, then some slow release carbs (like porridge or wholemeal toast) to keep you going for the morning.
8.00am • Shake up
This is the best time for a workout…it boosts your mood by 50%. Exercise later and the mood-boost drops to 20%, according to research from Glasgow University. US studies have also indicated that you burn fat more efficiently during morning exercise.
9.00am • Solve it
Now your body and brain have warmed up, this is the best time to focus on problem solving. Oxford Professor Russell Foster (co author of Rhythms of Life) says that your mental powers peak from mid morning to lunchtime, making it the ideal time to focus on your important brainpower issues.
10.00am • Take a break
As glucose levels dip, it’s time to have a snack. The best choice is a piece of fresh or dried fruit or a wholemeal treat. Try not to keep nibbling throughout the day, as this can increase your triglycerides (blood fats) and this can be as bad for you as having high cholesterol levels.
11.00 • Get the point
Just before lunch is an ideal time to visit your acupuncturist. Traditional acupuncture divides the day into two hour segments and the lunchtime clock governs the small intestine, which clears the mental and physical waste and makes you more alert and re-energised.
12 noon • Time for lunch
Research has shown that those who have an early lunch are more likely to choose healthy high protein and low-fat options. Leaving it later will mean your blood sugar has dropped too low and you will crave the higher fat or sugary options.
1.00pm • Take a break
Your body’s natural inclination is to take a nap after lunch, and that’s exactly what you should do. A 20 minute time for relaxation will recharge your batteries for the rest of the day. If you can’t nap, just have a peaceful period before getting back to work.
2.00pm • Make up
Believe it or not, this is the best time to choose foundation to match your skin tone! In the morning your skin is at its palest, and cleanser will leave the skin too alkaline, which can change the colour of foundation. But by afternoon the skin colour and balance is at its best.
3.00 • Don’t munch
Your body’s energy levels take a dip as your blood sugar falls, but if you resist the temptation to snack, your body automatically converts glycogen into glucose, so you’ll get a natural in-built boost without giving in to temptation.
4.00pm • Anyone for tennis?
This is definitely the time for ball games. Your body temperature is a degree higher that in the morning. Your lung and muscle function are both at their peak, and your reaction time is also at its fastest, so it’s a good time for a tennis match.
5.00 • Work out
This is another great time to exercise. The body is at its strongest and most flexible, so go for power training for strength, or yoga for flexibility. But be careful – that higher body temperature can make you more tolerant to pain – so don’t push yourself too hard.
6.00pm • Drink now
If you must have a tipple, this is the time your liver is functioning at its best, so the sundowner concept really is a good idea after all. Don’t be tempted to quench an exercise related thirst this way though. Your best choice is an isotonic drink, or just plain water.
7.00pm • Eat now
Don’t leave it too late to have your supper. Late night heavy meals can play havoc with your digestion, so keep it light - and not too late!
9.00pm • Clean your teeth
This is really the best time in the day for dental maintenance. Saliva production shuts down at night, so any trapped food is more likely to be undigested and will play havoc with your tooth enamel.
10.00pm • Time for bed
Most people feel drowsy at this time of day, and for good reason. Your body is telling you it’s time to tuck up for the night and get your eight hours rest, so you’ll be fresh and fighting-fit the next morning.