Created in 1986 by French nutritionist Dr Alain Delabos, chrononutrition is more than just a diet: it’s a whole new way of eating that follows the body's natural rhythm and enzymatic secretions. Here's how it works.
In a nutshell, chrononutrition is eating foods at times of the day when they are most useful, to meet your body's energy requirements and prevent storage of food as fat in certain parts of the body.
According to Dr Delabos, humans' natural ancestral needs are predetermined in the body. The body secretes different substances (enzymes and hormones) to break down the different types of food we eat, in a calculated and organised way. So eating fruit for breakfast, for example, isn't natural, and neither is eating pasta for dinner. Apparently the body doesn't need these nutrients at those times, and what it doesn't need it stores.
Chrononutrition works by calculating the body's enzyme secretions and works out what foods to eat at certain times and what to cut out at other times. With the exception of yoghurt and milk, which contain lactose, that the body cannot digest, there are no forbidden foods, no calorie counting and no fat or sugar control.
Chrononutrition seeks first to eliminate those excess pounds caused by storage of nutrients the body has not broken down. If you follow it strictly you should reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Aside from weight loss, this method also balances out your figure. According to Dr Delabos, the shape of the body reflects the food that we eat: too many vegetables leads to big hips and thighs, too much meat leads to a big chest and shoulders, and too much starch leads to a big stomach, etc etc. By eating what you need when you need it, you stop the body from storing what it doesn't need, wherever you tend to store fat. Hurray for well-proportioned curves!
Dr Delabos also claims that by following his diet you improve your general health and are less likely to suffer from diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
A balanced day
This method prioritises breakfast and lunch, which tend to be neglected. Breakfast should be hearty and greasy (cheese, bread, butter and cooked meats) and lunch should provide sugar (fruit, chocolate etc.), vegetable fat (avocado, olives etc). Lunch and dinner should consist of a single dish. Extra sugar, pastries, cakes, wine and desserts aren't eaten on this plan, but you are allowed two extra treats a week.
A big breakfast
Every morning the body secretes 3 enzymes: insulin, to receive sugar the organs need to function from the moment we wake; lipases, to metabolise fats used for the production of cell walls; and proteases, to metabolise proteins used to produce cell content.
What to eat: 100g cheese, 70g bread, 20g butter and a hot drink without milk or sugar.
A good lunch
At midday, proteases are secreted to put in place cellular protein and to stock protein reserves.
What to eat: 250g meat or 250g fish, optional sauce, or 3 to 4 eggs as an omelette, boiled, etc, 1 small bowl of starch (pasta, rice, mash or chips), optional butter, and 50g bread.
Sweet afternoon tea
In the middle of the afternoon, you experience a peak in insulin which aims to use sugar in order to compensate for fatigue linked to organ function.
What to eat: 30g dark chocolate, or one small bowl of nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios), or 1 small bowl of olives, or one small bowl of dried fruit (raisins, apricots and prunes) or 2 cooked apples with jam, honey or maple syrup, or 2 big glasses of natural fruit juice.
A light dinner
In the evening, there are hardly any digestive secretions except those that slow down the breakdown of food.
What to eat: Lean fish or unlimited seafood, or 120g white meat without sauce and 1 small bowl of vegetables, dressing optional.