Whether you’re watching Jason Bourne venture along the Mekong River or Ethan Hunt scale cliffs without a harness, there’s a noticeable lack of on-screen eating by the secret agents of our favorite popcorn spy movies. Sure, 007 has all the time in the world for martinis and sex, but he doesn’t have time for a few slices of ‘za? You mean to tell us that Bond isn’t at least grabbing some pastel de choclo or a goddamn empanada when he’s in Chile? Ridiculous.
You might assume that watching Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt scarf down an omelet simply doesn’t make for compelling cinema, but it turns out that this whole aversion-to-food thing is actually part of the secret agent life. The Argonne Anti Jet Lag Diet — which your favorite special agents use to stay on top of their games — relies heavily on some very calculated fasting before switching time zones.
Developed by Argonne Laboratory Biologist Charles Ehret, the diet has been used successfully since the 80s by presidents, CIA operatives, and the Navy for avoiding jet lag and its related symptoms. A less restrictive variation of the diet was developed by Dr. Clifford B. Saper of the Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston, which greatly reduces the prep time.
HOW IT WORKS
Much of this diet occurs before you hit the airport. Because certain foods and eating patterns aid in the release of the chemicals that your body uses to adjust to time, the point is to get your body acclimated to the local time of your destination. The research shows that the diet increases your likelihood of avoiding the dreaded effects of jet lag by a factor of seven if you’re traveling west and 14 if you’re traveling east.
First, figure out the breakfast time of your destination in relation to your current local time. You’ll then need to fast for 12-16 hours prior to that mark on the day of take-off. This will be a very strict, water-only fast. No snacks, tea, coffee — nothing! Booze on the plane? Forget about it, why do you think Bond is always so eager to drink when he reaches his destination?
Just imagine that anything that isn’t water is set to self-destruct in your face, Mission Impossible style, and this diet will be easy enough. The 12-16 hour fast will allow your body’s internal clock to reset once you reward it with food at your new local breakfast time. Of course, by this point you’re going to feel pretty drained for energy — so be sure your first breakfast is full of protein to help you recover. Starches and carbs should be avoided throughout the daytime. Staying in well-lit environments and getting plenty of exercise and fresh air will keep you from getting tired, which explains all the running secret agents do.
The diet becomes more bearable at night, when it’s recommended that you grub out on a hearty pasta or high carb dinner — you’ll want to get a real good food-coma going. If you’re having trouble making it to dinner, caffeine is okay once you’ve passed breakfast time, so long as it’s consumed before 3 PM local time.
While you probably won’t be saving the world or taking down criminals during your next adventure, if you’ve been busy stressing out about jet lag carving into your hard-earned vacation time the Argonne Anti Jet Lag Diet just might be the fix you need.