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How your weekend eating, sleeping habits can throw off your body clock

Routine important to keeping healthy lifestyle

DETROIT – You don’t have to be on a plane to feel the effects of jet lag. What you eat and when you sleep on the weekends can also throw off your body clock.

It’s easy to keep a consistent schedule during the week, but for many of us, that routine gets thrown out the window on the weekend. That can have an effect on how you feel.

Saturday and Sunday are the days most people use to recharge. You might sleep in, stay up late and eat whatever you want, whenever you want.

“It can be all over the map,” Carole, from Livonia, said. “Sometimes I don’t eat dinner, eat a later lunch. On weekends, I just find there really is no routine.”

“I have a little more energy during the week,” Anne, from St. Clair Shores, said. “If I’m off on the weekend, I’m a little more lackadaisical.”

That can make you feel sluggish come Monday morning.

“I eat a lot of junk food on the weekends, and I do feel slow once Monday comes back,” said Ashley Henry, of Detroit. “It’s not a good feeling.”

Someone has given that feeling a catchy nickname: “metabolic jet lag.”

A study in Cell Magazine found most adults eat later and for longer periods of time on the weekend.

“You’re out with friends, maybe you’re drinking, so you’re consuming extra calories, and you might sleep in, shifting the time you’re going to eat your next meal,” said Bethany Thayer, a registered dietitian with Henry Ford Health System.

That throws your body clock out of whack and affects your energy level. It can come with serious health consequences, such as diabetes, obesity and high blood sugar.

Thayer said metabolic jet lag isn’t about metabolism, but more about choices.

“When I heard the term ‘metabolic jet lag,’ it’s not really about metabolism,” Thayer said. “It’s about changing the times that you’re eating and the effect it has on you.”

To combat the jet lag feeling, Thayer recommended eating nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. But you don’t have to cut out that weekend brunch.

“For some people, it might be helpful to shorten the time frame that you’re eating in,” Thayer said.

She said instead of eating over a 15-hour span, shorten it to 10 hours and try to maintain your workweek sleep schedule.

“The closer you can stay to a regular schedule Monday through Sunday, the closer you are to keeping a healthy lifestyle,” Thayer said.

She said a routine is especially important for children because their bodies don’t adjust as quickly to changes.


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