Why fasting doesn’t (always) mean going hungry

It’s not just what we eat, but when we eat it.

The fact that fasting has been around in religion and different cultures for centuries should indicate that it isn’t as hard at it first sounds. Science is now catching up on the powerful health benefits it can offer. It’s not something you need to do daily either, even just once a week is showing to have numerous health benefits.

This is known as time-restricted feeding or intermittent fasting.

This requires eating overnight in a 12-hour window.

For example: if you’re someone who wants to eat breakfast at 8am, you would have to eat your last meal/snack of the day before 8pm.


The benefits

Health experts are revealing research on the benefits, including weight loss, diabetes prevention and even better quality of sleep. Findings published in the journal Cell Metabolism, showed that time-restricted feeding* can help:

  • aid weight-loss
  • manage healthy glucose levels/lowering diabetes risk
  • lower blood pressure
  • slow down the ageing process

Other benefits may include:

  • lower levels of inflammation
  • enhanced detoxification
  • better control over appetite hormones
  • improved heart health
  • better immunity
  • lower risk of cancer
  • better muscle recovery from workouts


The science

How does it work? Our body’s metabolic processes are guided by our circadian rhythms, which are the rhythms that repeat themselves on a daily basis. For example, sleep is a circadian – we go to sleep and we wake up. Science is revealing a link between disruption to our circadian rhythms and disease. The best time to stop eating is as the sun goes down then just drink water and nothing else for the 10-12 hours overnight.

The findings, primarily on mice, found the break allows the body’s process of cellular repair to work more effectively. It also allows the repair of damaged DNA and the breakdown of toxins.


Time-restricted feeding for weight management

Several US studies (1 and 2) summarized by the NHS in the UK here have shown time-restrictive feeding to reduce weight-gain in mice. In one of the studies, two groups of mice were each given access to the same amount of daily calories (unhealthy, fatty, sugary foods) but were given varying windows of time in which to eat them. Those who limited their intake to the shortest window gained the least weight. Those who ate the high calorie diet across a 24 hour period gained almost three times more weight than those who restricted their eating to a 9 hour window.

Similar studies conducted on humans, such a study by The Obesity Society has concluded similar results.


Is Time-Restricted Feeding the same as Intermittent Fasting?

No. Time-restricted feeding is about limiting your eating within a 12 hour window as often as possible to rest the liver and support the body’s natural circadian rhythm with the benefits listed above. Intermittent fasting is about having a very low calorie intake on two days a week and eating normally on the other five days (otherwise known as the 5:2 approach) with a predominant focus on weight loss.

While the intermittent fasting approach is successful for many people, the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) say it’s “no magic bullet’ and that intermittent fasting can be hard to maintain long term.

In summary:

What we love about time-restricted feeding for many people is that it’s easier than reducing calories during the day. You get the health benefits of fasting without feeling deprived.



2) http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(14)00498-7

Five tips for getting a better night’s sleep

Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. It can also mean the difference between a good day and a bad day.

Here are 5 tips for getting a better night’s sleep:

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day

For children, have a set bedtime and a bedtime routine. Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends. Limit the difference to no more than about an hour. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock’s sleep-wake rhythm. (1)

Avoid heavy and/or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime

While having a light snack is okay, meals, alcohol and caffeine (including caffeinated drinks, coffee, tea, and chocolate) should be avoided before bed. Caffeine is stimulants, and both substances can interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine can last as long as 8 hours. So, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night. (2)

Spend time outside every day (when possible) and be physically active

The National Sleep Foundation conducted a study with 2,600 men and women, ages 18-85, and found that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week, which is the national guideline, provided a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality. People also said they felt less sleepy during the day, compared to those with less physical activity. However, although daily exercise is key for a good night’s sleep, working-out late in the day may also cause problems falling asleep for some people. (3)

Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark (a dim night light is fine if needed)

There is a small part of the brain called the ‘circadian clock’, which monitors the amount of light you see, so in the evening, when the light starts to wane, your body clock notices and prompts a flood of a brain chemical called melatonin, which gives the body the signal to fall asleep. So it’s important to put your house lights on dim once it gets dark and a dim light in your bedroom as you’re going to bed. (4)

Use the hour before bed for quiet time

Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques such as meditation, and avoid bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. When our bodies are exposed to artificial light from LEDs and screens, we are confusing it and your body’s circadian clock is disrupted. The body doesn’t know when it’s time to get ready for sleep and stays alert, so make sure to turn off or stop using all your devices at least one hour before you go to bed. If this isn’t possible, use ‘Nightshift’ if you have an iPhone and MacBook. This is a setting which makes the colours on your screen warm. Most smartphones have the night option – look for it under settings, and you can set a time for it to automatically switch on and off so you don’t have to always remember. Read more about the effects of blue light in our previous blog post.

Check out our other blogs on Sleep:







1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0063010/

2 http://jcsm.aasm.org/viewabstract.aspx?pid=29198

3 https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/study-physical-activity-impacts-overall-quality-sleep

4 https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/96/3/E463/2597236


, ,

Working shifts and late nights

When you’re working a shift-schedule or working late nights, your physical activity, sleep and diet habits can really suffer. People who work shifts may find it hard to keep up a regular exercise and sleep schedule, putting shift workers at higher risk of weight gain, and all sorts of health disorders, from heart disease to cancer (National Sleep Foundation).


No matter how busy your schedule may seem, even small bursts of physical activity will be beneficial to your health. Not only can it help improve your fitness and sleep, but also decrease your risk of disease and make you feel better.

Here are some tips to make it easier for you to stay active even with an irregular or shift work schedule.

  1. Try to take walks before or after work, or even during your breaks. This is a soothing activity which can help with not only your physical health but also your mental health.
  2. If you’ve been standing for long periods of time; get up and move, whether it’s a light stretch or some short spurts of movement, such as push-ups or some squats. Read our blog post on Movement Snacks for more ideas.
  3. We take the lift or escalator without thinking but if it’s just a few floors – really make an effort to take the stairs whenever you can.
  4. If you drive, park further away so you have to walk more. If you take Public Transport, get off a stop or two early.
  5. If you do have time to workout, try doing it before work as it’s likely you’ll be too tired afterwards. This will give you a sense of accomplishment before your day/night begins and give you some energy to get through your shift.
  6. Keep a pair of light weights, a stability ball or resistance bands at your desk and try to use them for at least 10 minutes during your breaks or throughout your shift.
  7. Find a gym that offers 24-hour access so that you can go whenever it suits you.
  8. Try short sharp bursts of exercise over long workouts which might be hard to squeeze in for those of you working longer shifts. Log-in to Ritualize to try our 7-minute workouts.

It’s important to remember that every little bit of movement counts!


The sleep-wake cycle appears to have evolved for humans to be awake during the day and to sleep for approximately eight hours at night. There is a small part of the brain called the ‘circadian clock’, which monitors the amount of light you see, so in the evening, when the light starts to wane, your clock notices and prompts a flood of a brain chemical called melatonin, which gives the body the signal to fall asleep. Overnight, melatonin levels remain high. They drop at daybreak and remain low during the day. A person working the night shift, which causes disruption to the circadian rhythm, is at greater risk of various disorders, accidents and misfortunes.

So if you’re a shift-worker or regularly working late, what can you do to help improve your sleep?

  • Try not to work a number of night shifts in a row. You may become increasingly more sleep-deprived over several nights on the job. You’re more likely to recover if you can limit night shifts and schedule days off in between.
  • Avoid frequently rotating shifts. If you can’t, it’s easier to adjust to a schedule that rotates from day shift to evening to night rather than the reverse order.
  • Keep your workplace brightly lighted to keep yourself alert. If you’re working the night shift, expose yourself to bright light when you wake up, such as that from special light boxes, lamps, and visors designed for people with circadian-related sleep problems, Being exposed to bright light when you start your ‘day’ can help train your body’s internal clock to adjust.
  • Limit your caffeine intake. Drinking a cup of coffee at the beginning of your shift will help promote alertness, but don’t consume caffeine later in the shift or you may have trouble falling asleep when you get home.
  • Avoid bright light on the way home from work, which will make it easier for you to fall asleep once you hit the pillow. Wear dark, wraparound sunglasses and a hat to shield yourself from sunlight. Don’t stop to run errands, tempting as that may be.
  • Use blackout blinds or heavy curtains to block sunlight when you sleep during the day. Even if your eyes are closed, the sunlight coming into the room tells your brain that it’s daytime, and that can really impact your ability to sleep and stay asleep for the time that you need.
  • Try Box Breathing to help unwind after shifts. It is a simple technique to help you manage stress, calm your nerves, reduce anxiety and can improve your sleep. Check out our tutorials and a series of guided breathing sessions.


When you work shifts, you may find it hard to know when and what to eat. Here are some tips on how to manage a healthy diet:

  • Eat your “main meal” before going to work, as eating large meals during the night can cause heartburn, gas, or constipation. Then have smaller meals and healthy snacks during your shift and before bed.
  • Have a light snack before bedtime. It’s hard to fall asleep when you’re too hungry or too full. If you’re still hungry after work, eat a small healthy snack before bedtime. Try a bowl of whole grain cereal with milk or a piece of whole grain toast with jam. If you’re too full at bedtime try cutting out a snack during your shift.
  • Pack your own healthy snacks. It can be difficult to find healthy snacks during the afternoon and night shifts. The cafeteria may be closed. Vending machines may only carry salty or high-fat snacks and high-calorie sugary drinks. Examples of good snacks are an apple, a banana or a handful of nuts with low in sugar yoghurt.
  • Avoid fatty, fried or spicy foods. Foods such as hamburgers, fried chicken and spicy chilli may lead to heartburn and indigestion. Eating too much processed and trans fat can also increase your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For information on healthy fats, check out our blog post.
  • Avoid fast food, no matter how easy and accessible it is. Try to meal prep at the start of each week, if you’re finding it difficult to prepare healthy food every day.
  • Avoid sugary foods and drinks. You may feel a quick boost of energy after having a chocolate bar or sugary soft drink. This feeling doesn’t last long and you may experience low energy levels later on. Enjoy nutritious snacks and beverages instead to stay alert and keep your energy up.
  • Take your time eating. Don’t rush when you eat. You deserve your break, so enjoy every single bite of your meals and snack! If possible, eat with your co-workers for some company.
  • Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. It may help you to stay alert and not feel so tired during your shift. Keep a water bottle nearby and take sips even before you feel thirsty. Low-fat milk, tea or herbal tea are other nutritious beverages that you can drink. Watch the amount of 100% fruit juice you drink because the calories can add up quickly.
  • Avoid alcohol after work and when you get home. A drink may make you feel more relaxed, but alcohol can disturb your sleep.
















Bodyweight exercise

Portrait of young woman working out on yoga mat in fitness studio

No gym? No equipment? No problem! It’s false to believe that we need gyms and expensive equipment to get a good workout in. A simple and effective approach to exercise is to use your own bodyweight. Simply put, it’s an exercise that uses the body as a form of resistance to work against gravity. It’s completely free, accessible and highly effective.

There’s nothing new or fad-like about Bodyweight Training. There are records of ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians using this method and it’s still used in military training for the same reasons. What Bodyweight Training does, in particular, is it incorporates core stability and stabilisation of the joints relative to the person’s body weight. Compared with traditional weight training, you won’t build muscle mass, but you can gain strength relative to your bodyweight.

Today, some common approaches to bodyweight training are the traditional squats, push-ups and lunges. Yoga is also a form of bodyweight training, but there are also hundreds of others that work the whole body in a functional, 3-dimensional way, not just isolating one or two muscle groups. At Ritualize, we use bodyweight workouts which can be done anywhere, anytime. After just 4 minutes your heart-rate will increase and you’ll feel like you’ve done an hour at the gym! Here’s an example of what you can do at home.

Take 4 – 8 minutes to try our Body Weight and ZUU workouts

To try our Bodyweight Workouts from Level 1 (beginner) to Level 5 (advanced) log-in and go to https://au.ritualize.com/workouts on your desktop or go to the Learn-Workouts section of your app. Or check out our 4-minute Bodyweight exercise video or our 8-minute Bodyweight exercise video

Our Movement Snacks are a form of bodyweight exercises. These are short bursts of exercise you can do at work or home to break up a long stretch of sitting.

While there is no ‘best’ way to exercise for everyone, bodyweight exercise offers so many benefits. The top benefits being it can be done anywhere and it’s free. Given recent research is associating exercise and physical activity with better quality of life and health outcomes, it’s a great way to gain these benefits even if you are time poor.