TN50#7, Eat Like It’s Your Job, 8-10 Hours A Day, 15 February 2021

Hi Team,

Happy Monday and welcome to the TN50#7.  After a day of chocolates and other Valentine’s Day treats, I thought we’d dive in to your Food Clock!

Ten years ago, if someone recommended that I wait and start consuming calories at lunch time I would have laughed and said something cheeky like, “Sure thing buddy, let me know when the space ship lands.”  I didn’t even wait till breakfast to crank up my digestive system.  I fired up the pancreas and other organs with my first cup of coffee which included lots of cream and sugar – usually before 6 am.  I then headed to the gym or obstacle course for a work out, a quick trip to the showers, followed by a walk upstairs to the most amazing chow hall in the US Army, for what was always a delicious (and massive) breakfast.

About the same time, I heard about General Stanley McChrystal only eating at dinner time but then he ate whatever he wanted.  I assure you I was making up for all the hours in the day that the General was not eating and the calories as well.  I didn’t slow down at lunch or dinner and had convinced myself that I slept better if I had a little snack just before bed time.  This was a luxury of being in a position that allowed me to burn a massive number of calories every day of my life.  I would estimate that most days my first calories were at approximately 0530 and my last calories were at 2100, or later if beers were involved.

If you are a middle-aged human that spends most of their working hours at a desk or in an office and you are thinking, “I don’t eat the huge meals but the eating window sounds about right!” please read on.

Every day of my life I was making my digestive system work from the moment I woke up to well after I was asleep in my bed.  I now know that this was not the best system for me 10 years ago when I was a commando and it would be an absolutely horrible idea as a 50-year-old civilian driving a stand-up desk!

Not sure what I am talking about?

Know a little bit about what I am talking about but need a refresher?

Check out this classic FMF Podcast/video: Dr. Patrick interviews Dr. Satchin Panda.  The pod/video webpage is here:

There are a lot of terms out there like Time Restricted Eating and Intermittent Fasting, I personally try to get all my calories in everyday in a 7 to 9-hour window and I simply call it my Food Clock (FC).  Now days my FC almost never starts before 1100 in the morning and almost never ends after 2000 at night.  This gives my body time to burn some fat for fuel after a good workout at 0600 and gives the digestive system plenty of time to finish up before I go to bed around 2200 most days.  Most importantly it gives my digestive system a lot of time to repair and optimize from all those years of the 16+ hour FC and the occasional Treat Meal of delicious Scileppi’s pizza and Melvin IPAs.

The Food Clock (FC):

Your Food Clock is the total amount of time you eat and drink anything with calories during a 24-hour period, from first in to last in, figure out how many hours your FC is currently and work to get it down to around 8 hours a day.  Track your FC for a couple weeks like this:

  1. Start your FC when you have your first calories of the day (write this time down), this means you can drink water or black coffee/tea and not start your clock.
  2. End your FC when you finish your last bite of food, or drink of a beverage with calories, at the end of day (write this time down).
  3. Example, if your first calories are at 0900 and your last calories are at 1830,  you have a 9.5-hour food clock for that day.
  4. Getting down to an 8-hour food clock is surprisingly easy as long as you transition down slowly.
  5. An 8-hour food clock is harder to maintain during a business trip.  One trick is to start your food clock later in the day, ex. start at lunch time.
  6. Once you get down to an 8-hour food clock, we can discuss taking an occasional fast day from time to time, OMG!  Yes 24 hours, no calories.

Getting a handle on your FC is a power tool for improving your performance as you will learn in the attached podcast/video.  The FC is one of the 3 big levers you can pull for your Eat framework, more on the other two later, what you eat and how much you eat.

Questions or comments?  Let me know!

Have a good one, Alex