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The Argonne Jetlag Diet

The Argonne Jetlag Diet is helping travelers quickly adjust their bodies' internal clocks to new time zones. The diet was developed by Dr. Charles F. Ehret of Argonne's Division of Biological and Medical Research as an application of his fundamental studies of the daily biological rhythms of animals.

The idea is to shift the body clock with three steps:

  1. Eat dinner in the morning and breakfast in the evening
  2. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate which upset the body clock
  3. Alternate feasting days with fasting days
Before traveling east, go to bed and get up earlier than usual.

How to avoid jet lag:

  1. Determine destination breakfast time.
  2. Determine third day before departure.
  3. Feast — fast — feast — fast on home time. Start three days before departure day.
    • On day 1, Feast; eat heartily with high-protein breakfast and lunch and a high-carbohydrate dinner. No coffee except between 2 and 5 p.m.
    • On day 2, Fast on light meals of salads, light soups, fruits and juices. Again, no coffee except between 3 and 5 p.m.
    • On day 3, Feast again.
    • On day 4, departure day, Fast; if you drink caffeinated beverages, take them in the morning when traveling west, or between 6 and 11 p.m. when traveling east. Going west, you may fast only half day.
  4. Break final fast at destination breakfast time. No alcohol on plane. If flight is long enough, sleep until normal breakfast time at destination, but no later. Wake up and FEAST on high-protein breakfast. Stay awake, active. Continue day's meals according to meal times at destination.

Feast on high-protein breakfasts and lunches to stimulate the body's active cycle. Suitable meals include steak, eggs, hamburgers, high-protein cereals, green beans.

Feast on high-carbohydrate suppers to stimulate sleep. Include spaghetti and other pasta (but not meatballs), crepes (but not meat filling), potatoes, other starchy vegetables, and sweet desserts.

Fast days help deplete the liver's store of carbohydrates and prepare the body's clock for resetting. Suitable foods include fruit, light soups, broths, skimpy salads, unbuttered toast, half pieces of bread. Keep calories and carbohydrates to a minimum.

FEAST protein
FEAST protein
FEAST carbo
Day 2 FAST
FEAST protein
FEAST protein
FEAST carbo
Day 4 FAST

Coffee, tea, cola, other caffeinated beverages allowed only between 3 and 5 p.m.

Break Final Fast
Eastbound: drink coffee between 6 and 11 p.m. Try to sleep until destination breakfast time. Wake up, drink two cups of coffee, and exercise to get body started. Feast with a high-protein breakfast. Stay awake and active and don't sleep until sundown at destination.

Westbound: drink coffee the morning before departure.

Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 South Cass Avenue, Argonne, Illinois 60439

U.S. Government Printing Office 1984-754-904

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Revised: June 22, 2012