Did you know that the timing of your meals is one of the most important nutrition secrets for successful weight loss andmaintenance? Unfortunately with our hectic lifestyles and schedules it can be very difficult to sticking with 3 meals a day never mind 6 small meals or 3 meals with several snacks interspersed! Once I explain why researchers have found eating more often improves weight loss – you may decide to make an extra effort to eat more often. Now, eating more often doesn’t mean increasing the amount that you eat, it means taking the calories that you would normally consume in a day and spreading them out throughout the day.
- It is believed that by spacing 3 large meals in one day, you allow your body to enter the starvation mode. When this happens your body tries to conserve as much energy as it can until the next meal because it assumes that the meal may not come. In the starvation mode your body reduces metabolism and conserves as much fat as possible to increase your chance of survival. The solution is to eat more often by dividing 3 large meals into 6 smaller ones. Many of us do this by having 3 main meals and several small snacks in between.
- By spreading your calories throughout the day you will prevent low energy and mood, and ward off hunger pangs because you will be supplying your body with enough fuel to function throughout the day. Meal frequency regulates blood sugar levels and that eases hunger. You will also be less likely to overeat at the next meal and that will help to prevent weight gain.
- By eating more often throughout the day your metabolic rate will also be faster since your body’s digestive functions are more active. Each time you eat your body’s temperature is raised slightly which, in turn, raises your metabolism. We call that “TEF” or the “thermal effect of food.” With your metabolism staying higher you will be in a state of burning fat throughout the day.
- Protein from the food you consume has nitrogen and nitrogen maintains your muscle. To maintain positive nitrogen balance throughout the day you need to consume some protein every 3-4 hours. If we lose muscle we will burn fewer calories during the day and I know that is what we are all trying to avoid.
The ability to lose weight is under YOUR control and I hope that I have inspired some of you to eat something every few hours so please don’t skip meals –especially breakfast!