You’ve probably heard how Intermittent fasting can create healthy nutritional habits that have lasting benefits for your physical health. The goal is to help your body work efficiently by lowering your blood sugar, reducing your insulin levels and changing your cadence of eating. In return, you can improve your metabolic fitness and reduce or undo symptoms of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other illness.
Finding your optimal intermittent fasting plan can also have a big impact on your mental health, when you’re most alert and productive, and your sleep-wake cycle. Intermittent fasting improves “verbal memory, executive function and global cognition” as well as memory. You can boost your brainpower and mood while in a fasting state, also decreasing brain fog, increasing focus and accelerating productivity.
As an additional layer, sleep plays a critical role in your body’s functions, heavily affecting your weight, memory, mental health and cognition. Understanding your sleep chronotype helps you work with your body instead of against it to be productive during times of higher function and to relax and repair during times of rest. A quick quiz will tell you which of the four chronotypes your rhythm fits into.
While both strategies have incredible benefits separately, pairing an intermittent fasting plan with your chronotype can help you work with your body’s unique schedule to maximize your cognition, productivity and focus for an even better breakthrough.
Bear Chronotype Intermittent Fasting Plans
The bear chronotype is the most common, making up about 55% of the population. This chronotype follows a more traditional workday schedule, finding themselves more productive before noon and battling an afternoon slump around 2-4 p.m. A standard 8 hours of sleep is typical for this schedule, usually going to sleep around 11 p.m. and waking up around 7 a.m.
A 16/8 fasting plan, which is closer to a typical eating schedule, works well for this cycle. For example, this type could choose an 8-hour eating window between noon and 8 p.m. By starting to fast at least three hours before bedtime, you reduce overnight blood sugar spikes and ease digestion. This means your body is able to focus on recovery and improved attention during sleep and morning working hours to heighten productivity before refueling with nourishment in the afternoon and evening.
Wolf Chronotype Intermittent Fasting Plans
The wolf chronotype follows a typical late-night schedule. As the resident night owl (or canine, in this case), this portion of the population (approximately 15%) may find that their focus peaks in the evenings between 5 p.m. and 12 a.m.
For these individuals, starting with a 16/8 fasting plan allows for maximum flexibility in eating during their less productive hours. For example, this type could choose an 8-hour eating window between 8 a.m and 4 p.m. to be fasting during peak productivity hours. Also known as early time-restricted feeding (eTRF), just eating breakfast and lunch is one of the healthiest fasting styles and naturally aligns with wolves who are most productive in the late afternoon and evening.
Lion Chronotype Intermittent Fasting Plans
In contrast, the lion chronotype is the equivalent of the early bird. These individuals making up around 15% of the population wake up early and stay most productive in the mornings, typically between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m., while having trouble with focus and productivity in the evening. They’ll also tend to go to bed on the earlier side, around 10 p.m. to get a full night’s sleep before waking with (or before) the sun around 6:00 a.m.
To really boost brainpower and function during the day, the lion chronotype would work well by starting with an 18/6 fasting plan (choosing a 6-hour eating window to consume calories between noon and 7 p.m., leaving at least three hours before bed) and possibly transitioning to one meal a day depending on fasting goals and how deep you want benefits to go. Both plans are a simple, steady structure that produce heightened productivity that can be focused in the mornings when your body is most attentive.
Dolphin Chronotype Intermittent Fasting Plans
The dolphin chronotype is the least common type, making up around 10% of the population. This chronotype is modeled after the animal, which sleeps with a partially-alert brain to avoid predators and other harmful situations. People who follow this chronotype typically are light, restless sleepers with an early wakeup time – around 6:30 a.m. – but stay most productive during the earlier part of the day between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
In this case, an alternate day fast might help maximize productivity during your heightened cognitive windows. Even using “modified” fasting – by eating around 500 calories on fasting days, and then eating normally on the others – on fasting days could help you keep a heightened focus during your fast and use the intentional, extra time you’re not eating to nap or recover from a disjointed night’s sleep.
It’s important to understand your genetic disposition for sleep and wake preferences in order to understand how to strategize and fuel your body to perform at its peak, mentally and physically. Finding your chronotype is a great first step to formulating the best plan for your lifestyle, but pairing this knowledge with intermittent fasting can heighten your experience and improve your health substantially by utilizing your energy ebb and flow to direct your nourishment schedule.
Even further, having knowledgeable coaching and craving support to stay on track help to strengthen your new habits and push through to see optimal productivity.