If you’re a seasoned traveler, no doubt you’re already well acquainted with the most unfortunate of travel companions – jet lag. A combination of symptoms, including fatigue, insomnia, nausea, headaches, brain fog and decreased concentration, jet lag is caused by the temporary misalignment of the body’s circadian rhythm with the time of your local destination. Yet a surprising link between jet lag and intermittent fasting (the trendiest new diet protocol) is showing that perhaps we have more control over our susceptibility to experiencing jet lag than first thought…
Within our brain, liver, heart and other tissues, we have “clocks” which are responsible for many of our bodily functions, such as blood pressure regulation, hormone production, hunger, and wakefulness. Collectively known as circadian rhythms, these are co-ordinated by a cluster of cells in our brain which respond to the stimulus of light and dark. With each time zone you cross during travel, it will take about one day of adjusting to the new light/dark schedule to get you in sync with the local time and your new destination, hence the jet lag.
However scientists now believe there’s another method for beating jet lag, and it has to do with what you do, or more importantly, do not eat before, during and after your travels. Research out of Boston ] found that food, or the lack thereof, may help synchronise the body rhythms faster than adjusting to light/dark patterns, thanks to the discovery of a second “master clock” in mice, which can take control when food is withheld. While indeed humans are not mice, we do share the same set of cells that respond to hunger, and it’s suggested that as food is just as essential for survival as sleep is, the hunger response will influence our circadian rhythms equally.
Accessing this “feeding clock” is the basis of the Argonne Anti-Jet Lag diet, a form of intermittent fasting that is favoured by fasting pioneer and creator of the 5:2 diet Michael Moseley. The diet plan alternates two days of moderate fasting with feasting – following a feast/fast/feast/fast timeline – with the second fast undertaken on your travel day and was proven successful when the US Military put it to test on their troops on long-haul flights.
How To Implement The Anti-Jet Lag Diet
3 days before
It is recommended to begin the diet three days before your departure. This will be a “fast” day, which involves restricting your calorie intake to 800. You can find recipes on bloodsugardiet.com
2 days before
Day two is a “feast” day, where you eat high-protein breakfast, above average serving of lunch and a high –carbohydrate dinner. Moseley also suggests you restrict caffeine intake after 5pm
One day before
The day before your flight is another “fast” day, again restricting calorie intake to 800 and mimicking the meal plan from day one.
On The Day Of Your Flight
One the day of flying, eat a breakfast meal at the time of the destination and then fast and do not drink alcohol, but plenty of water whilst on the plane. Moseley also suggests you try to adjust your meal and sleep schedule to the time of your destination in an attempt to update your internal clock on the move.
Try to eat soon after you land as close to a local meal time (i.e: if you land in the late afternoon, opt for a dinner meal) and continue following usual daily eating patterns.
Heading away soon? Make sure you check out these top wellness travel tips from LA’s premier wellness concierge.