Happy hump day!
Today’s quick tip was a tipping point in my weight loss and general whole health. I’m sure you’ve all heard that we should be grazers, eating small meals frequently to keep our metabolisms humming. It seems to make great sense on the surface and I abided by this rule for a very long time, but it got me nowhere.
Then one day, while out for a run, during which I usually listen to a Jillian Michaels podcast, JM was doing a segment on dispelling common weight-loss myths. That’s when I heard her say we should only eat every four hours.
Eating around the clock prevents your body from burning fat. Whenever you eat, you release insulin. When you release insulin, your body is storing sugar instead of letting other enzymes in your body release sugar to break down fat. So instead of using your energy stores (and thus, fat), you’re using your most recent snack.
I’ve found that this not only increased my fat burn, but it made it easier for me to track my food. When you’re only eating four times a day, you know what you’re eating and when and also tend to eat more balanced meals. I also noticed that eating a bit more at each sitting has left me more satisfied. My original plan of eating every two hours left me even more hungry than when I started eating my snack!
A typical day for me consists of four meals about four hours apart: breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner. I start around 6:30 AM with breakfast. Though I’ve been experimenting with my usual yogurt parfait, I have to say that this has the best staying power.
Lunch is around 11:00 AM. I realize this is beyond the usual four hours, but I generally find it easy to keep myself distracted at work for the extra half hour. No one wants to eat lunch at 10:30 AM (plus, if I need to grab some extras for my lunch at my work caf, they don’t open until then!).
Next is my snack around 2:30 PM. Now this is obviously not four hours after my lunch, but I go with my body cues on this one. Sometimes it’s 2:15 PM and sometimes it’s closer to 3:00 PM. Closer to 3:00 PM is perfect timing as I often work out right after work, starting around 4:15 PM. This way my snack doubles up as energy for my workout.
Dinner times vary. We’ll eat anywhere between 5:30 PM and 7:00 PM depending on how long it takes to get dinner together and what else is going on that day.The later time is a bit better as it is closer to the four-hour mark. I definitely don’t obsess over it, which is why I say eat every 3-4 hours, with four hours being a bit more ideal.
Dinner ends with little treat in the form of a smallish piece of one of these babies. Dark chocolate is my go-to dessert most days. Antioxidants and delicious!
My weekends tend to be less structred and I sometimes end up eating every two hours (and notice a difference in my hunger when I do–I feel like I’m hungry all weekend sometimes!).
Please keep in mind that this is not meant to be a hard a fast rule, but rather guidance on “best practice” as we say in healthcare. This is what I have found works for me and you need to find what works for you. 🙂
Questions: Do you agree or disagree with this? How often do you eat? Are you structured most of the time or wing it most days?