Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythms also affect eating and performance. These rhythms influence when individuals are more active, and when they are more likely to be sleepy. Research indicates there are different eating patterns for individuals with different rhythms. These eating patterns can enhance energy levels and performance. For example, "morning people" are usually at their best and most focused during the early hours of the day. Although breakfast is important, what foods these people eat becomes more important at lunch and throughout the afternoon. The energy level of a morning person begins to drop during the afternoon, and evening is their least alert and productive time. Thus, what they choose to eat at lunch and for snacks can make a difference in how they feel later in the day.

energy: technically, the ability to perform work; the content of a substance that allows it to be useful as a fuel



Food sources

Neurotransmitter/ mechanism

Proposed effect


Meat, Milk, Eggs, Cheese, Fish, Beans

Dopamine, Norepinephrine

Increased alertness, concentration

Carbohydrate (CHO)

Grains, Fruits, Sugars

All Foods


Increased calmness, relaxation


Reduced blood flow to the brain

Excess calories in a meal is associated with decreased alertness and concentration after the meal amino acid: building block of proteins, necessary dietary nutrient chronic: over a long period acupuncture: insertion of needles into the skin at special points to treat disease depression: mood disorder characterized by apathy, restlessness, and negative thoughts

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