It probably is. If you’re like many people, you don’t eat often enough – your biggest hurdle to overcome to lose weight. According to Turbo Jam® trainer Chalene Johnson, you should eat at least five times a day. That includes three meals and two snacks. So why eat so often?
It helps prevent your body from storing fat.
I kid you not. Our bodies are actually programmed to store fat, and this trait has helped us humans keep going over the eons. At many stages during our existence, it was critical to our survival. If you look back in time with me, I’ll show you why.
Picture yourself wearing an animal skin or scratchy woolen toga, a few smears of mud and no hair product. (Don’t feel bad—no one else looked good, either.) If you look in your hand, you’ll see that you’re carrying a spear that you made yourself. The reason for making it is that you’re hungry.
If you throw well, you eat. If you miss, you don’t. So being able to store energy in the form of fat will hopefully sustain you until your throwing improves.
This same survival tool remains part of our makeup today.
So the best way to avoid slipping into this fat-storing mode is to keep your metabolism going with small meals and snacks. Eating frequently prompts your body to efficiently keep working and burning the calories.
And if that weren’t enough by itself, there’s another good reason to avoid long waits between meals.
Eating regularly tames wild cravings.
By eating smaller meals on a regular schedule, you’ll help your body work comfortably on fewer calories, and stay in an energy (fat)-burning mode. This will help you feel more energetic, and keep your blood sugar stable, which will reduce carb cravings before your next meal.
Now let’s say you need even more help controlling your cravings for the wrong stuff. What do you do?
Start your day with the right stuff.
Chances are, you don’t eat in your sleep. So when you wake up, your cells are ready to absorb essential nutrients and, in particular, protein.
Throughout the night, your body uses excess or circulating proteins to replenish your muscles, hair, skin, and nails. In addition, your body uses proteins to create millions of antibodies for defense against bacteria, which often attacks while you sleep. That’s why eating a healthy breakfast packed with protein is good for you.
And a good rule of thumb for the timing of this meal is within an hour of waking up. If that’s not possible, have a meal or snack as early as possible to get your metabolism revving. So what about the rest of your day?
Lift weights, then lift plates.
Another smart time to eat is about 30 to 45 minutes after a workout. At this time, the enzymes responsible for energy production are in high gear, and the energy-storing hormones within our blood are suppressed.
This means less energy will be stored as fat. Carbs will be immediately taken up to replenish the low glycogen stores caused through exercising. Protein will be used for the recovery and growth of new calorie-burning muscle tissue. And the best news is, your body will burn most of the nutrients from the meal to fuel these reactions. That’s why eating after a workout is a good idea.
Having protein late in the day, for perhaps your last meal or snack, will also provide your body with the protein it will use overnight to revitalize your muscles, hair, nails, and antibodies.
Of course, remember portion size. If you’re not sure how much that might be, use the palm of your hand as a guideline. It’s a good trick, since you probably have your hands with you.
As with most things in life, timing is everything. So when you’re trying to drop pounds, don’t just think about what you eat—think about when. This will enable you to get more nutrients from fewer calories. Of course, the fewer calories you eat, the easier it is to lose weight. So eat right. On time. On schedule.