Hey Gorgeous -
So you're starting to wake up to the fact that your belly isn't going to melt away on its own. Bummer! You're also clear that exercise alone isn't going to do it because you can't out exercise a bad diet. Double Bummer! But one thing that may not be as clear is how often you should be eating to maximize weight release and fat-burning.
Well, let me just say this - there is A LOT of debate among experts on this subject. My goal is always to give it to you straight, simple and actionable, so let's break it down and get through the weeds to the yummy goodness.
You've heard them all - and honestly they all have merit and science behind them. The key is what is going to work best for you!
- 3 Meals Only - No Snacks OR
- 6 Small Meals OR
- 3 Meals with 1-2 Snacks OR
- Intermittent Fasting (IF)
And I'm sure there will be a new one next week with the next new diet book =). Keeping it straight, simple and actionable, let's break down the 4 KEY CONCEPTS where there isn't much debate to help you explore and find a plan that works best for you, your body and your whole body health adventure.
#1 - CALORIES ARE KING - Ultimately what's more important than when you consume your calories is how many calories you actually consume each day. So if you consume 6 meals that are 300 calories each, you will release more weight than 3 - 700 calorie meals. And while I don't preach Calorie Counting, I am a advocate of calorie awareness. So ultimately you should have a mindful awareness of how much food you are eating. But since you're a Radical Label Reader - you've got that handled - right?
Action Step: Be a Radical Label Reader (don't put anything in your body until you know everything that's in it) and have a mindful awareness of the overall calories you consume. For clarity: No need for calculators, scales or measuring =) - but if you love the APP you are using and are getting results - keep using it!)
#2 - BE MINDFUL AT LATE-NIGHT - There's plenty of healthy debate around the pros and cons of late night eating, but research does show that there is a tendency to eat more mindlessly on sugary, salty and fatty snacks late night. There is also data about the impact of late night eating on your body's internal clock (aka "circadium rhythm"), so the science is real.
Action Step: If you get noshy after dinner, consider a yummy cup of warm herbal tea (i.e. ginger, mint or chamomile) or a small nutrient-dense snack (150 calories or less) - especially if you work-out at night. Or just brush your teeth and go to bed =).
#3 - HAVE YOUR BIGGEST MEAL AT LUNCH - Recent research also has shown that eating your biggest meal at lunch has been linked to weight loss. You may need to jumpstart your meal prep and reset your mind around this one, but it also may be worth it for your waistline.
Action Step: Try swapping your biggest meal of the day to the lunch hour - but make sure it is nutrient dense with veggies (and or fruit), lean protein, fiber and healthy fat.
#4 - GIVE YOUR BODY A BREAK - Whether you go all out with Intermittent Fasting (IF) or just give your body a full rest at night, it is important to give time for your digestive system to actually burn fat. If you're grazing all day (especially on processed foods), you keep insulin "the fat storing hormone" in your system. If you're body is constantly in fat storing mode, you're not going to burn fat =). Digestion is a complicated process, but in order for that complicated process to take place, it's important to have some real space in between meals. According to the Mayo Clinic it can take 6 to 8 hours for a meal to fully digest. Not that you need to wait 6 hours in between meals, but many experts agree that you should wait at least 3-5 hours in between meals.
Action Step: Consider a 12-hour night fast to see if that gets you results. Drink water or tea first when you feel a craving to clear at least 3-5 hours in between meals.
WHAT DO I DO?
I'm very conscious to clear at least 3+ hours in between meals. This was definitely work for me at firt, as I was a card carrying nosher - BUT it also helped me lose that last stubborn 15. One of the things that helped me was just connecting to my body. God has gifted us with a beautiful and complex temple, so understanding and honoring the digestive process helped me be kinder to my body and its flow.
If I have a craving and it hasn't been at least 3 hours, my first defense is a glass of water, and then a cup of tea. 9 times out of 10, the cravings pass and I am onto the next!
And when I do snack, I am a snack snob. Instead of eating (even healthier) snacks out of a bag, I plate them so I can see them. No broken pieces or crumbs for me =). And I look for color, make sure that I have some protein, fiber and/or healthy fat present, and that things don't get out of hand calorie-wise. (ie 200 calories or less).
I've also been toying with the 12-hour rest at night, but my schedule hasn't been cooperating, so that's still a work-in-progress. I'll keep you posted!
So now it's your turn. Ultimately, it's about finding what works for you and your body, but consider some of the action steps and tips above and let me know how it goes. Feel free to post in the Fit thru Faith Village or comment below.
BLESSINGS & XO!
Charlie Jordan Brookins
Your Girlfriend in Whole Body Health
Founder, Fit thru Faith