5 Ways Fasting Speeds Up Fat Loss

Intermittent fasting is simply engaging in periods of time when no calories are consumed, and then eating in a condensed time frame.

It can be especially helpful for those who are stuck in a fat loss plateau to kick start fat burning.

There are a number of methods to choose from, but all of them include not eating for a period of 16-24 hours, and then consuming all of your calories within a certain time frame usually 6-8 hours.

When people are fasting, it includes the time when they are  asleep, luckily!

In a typical 16 hour fast you would stop eating after dinner around 8pm. When you wake up in the following morning instead of eating breakfast, you would  have coffee, tea or water and wait until lunch time at 12-1pm to have your first meal. You would eat from 12-1pm until 8pm.

This would be an example of a 16-18 hour fast. To help with the hunger some people will add coconut oil or heavy whipping cream to their coffee or tea  to keep them satiated until they eat at lunch time. This kind of fasting can be done daily.

Another popular form of fasting is to go a full 24 hours without eating, this could be from 2pm Tuesday to 2pm Wednesday with just water and coffee consumed.

This approach allows you to fast for a full 24 hours, but still eat every day. If someone engages in a full 24 hour fast these are typically done 1-2 times per week.

There are great benefits from fasting down to a cellular level, but today our focus is on how fasting can help with fat loss.

When fasting is applied correctly it can be an extremely powerful tool to help with fat loss. Below we will cover some of the ways fasting works its magic in the fat loss war.

1.) More Calories Burned

As you all know it is not just about calories in and calories out, but when trying to achieve fat loss calories do matter.

The closer you get to your ideal body composition the more specific your approach will need to be.If fat loss has stalled calories should be looked at to assess if they are too high or too low, for too long.

Contrary to popular belief sometimes calories need to be increased for a short period to boost the metabolism, and continue with fat loss.

During periods of fasting the metabolism is boosted and adrenaline is increased which allows you to more efficiently tap into fat stores on he body. 

An added benefit of fasting is that you will have more energy than you would think and the mental clarity can be great for those looking to be productive.

As I write this newsletter I am currently fasting, and am about 14 hours into a 16 hour fast!  

2.) Become A Fat Burner, Not A Sugar Burner

When you are fasting the metabolism will switch from relying on blood sugar to burning predominantly stored body fat .

When eating the body chooses to utilize carbohydrates for fuel first, and then shifts to burning fat.

Because people consume so many processed carbs, sugars and excess calories on a daily basis the body rarely have the opportunity to burn fat.

As a result any extra calories that aren’t needed will be converted and stored as body fat.

When you are fasting the body has no other option but to burn up stored body fat. When you are completing a fasting period the body will be burning far more fat than it would during a normal day of eating.

3.) Fasting Increases Fat Burning Hormones

Hormones are at the base of all metabolic functions in the body, and losing body fat is no different. Growth hormone is one of the most important hormones that contributes directly to body fat reduction.

During periods of fasting growth hormone becomes elevated in both frequency and intensity. Because of the abundance of growth hormone during fasting we get put into a fat burning overdrive!

4.) Increase Fat Burning Enzymes

While hormones definitely reign supreme in the fat burning world, enzymes play a role in supporting the functions of hormones.

Hormone sensitive lipase is the enzyme that helps fat cells release fat to be used by the muscle, and lipoprotein lipase is the enzyme that allows your muscles to burn fat as fuel.

By fasting you up regulate both of these enzymes causing more fat to be released by fat cells, and allowing more fat to be used as fuel in the muscles.

This is a marriage made in heaven for anyone who is looking to burn extra body fat!

5.) Decreased Fasting Insulin Levels

With insulin present the process of lipolysis which is the release of stored body fat for fuel can not take place. Without lipolysis the releasing of stored body fat to be used for fuel is very difficult.

Fasting keeps insulin levels low, while lipolysis is increased. This insulin blunting effect of fasting means that during a time where we are taking in zero calories we need to be able to access stored body fat to have energy to fuel our machine.

Luckily fasting allows us to access far more body fat that we would otherwise have access to.

Fill out the form below if you’re looking for a coach who can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health, fat loss or muscle building goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable along the way.


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Why We Overeat Part 3: Sleep

In part 2 of this series on overeating we discussed how the stress response we live with daily  contributes to overeating. Understanding the stress hormones and fight or flight is important to understanding today’s topic: sleep and overeating.

If you have not done so read Why We Overeat Part 2: Stress, before diving into today’s blog on sleep. Not getting enough sleep is a big stress on the body!

Getting a good night of sleep is vitally important to overall health and well being. Any efforts in the gym,kitchen or life to look, feel and perform better are stalled by not prioritizing sleep. 

If you are consistently not getting enough sleep there is a good chance you are  overeating as a result, and may not realize it.

What is it that causes us to overeat when we don’t get enough sleep ? Is it due to willpower ? hormones ? or is there an evolutionary advantage that is at odds with our current lifestyle ?  Read more to learn the answer!  

Sleep Makes It All Better!

Sleep is a basic human requirement, it is mothers nature’s way of forcing our hand into regenerating and rejuvenating.

Our endocrine, neurological, immune, musculoskeletal and digestive systems all rely on sleep to function correctly. This means every system in your body requires good quality sleep work at its best.

A good night sleep has  shown to increase memory and cognitive clarity, improve stress tolerance, better hormonal profiles, increased immune function, improved athletic performance, increased muscle mass, decreased body fat and better mood and energy throughout the day.

If I could  sell the benefits of sleep in a pill form I would be the most successful supplement producer in the world, living on a yacht, sleeping on a bed of gold coins and eating dinosaur eggs for breakfast.

I am here to tell you the health benefits listed above are not going to cost you a dime. All you have to give up is the mindless TV or facebook  and close your eyes when the sun goes down.

How We Are Designed To Sleep

From the smallest microbes in the soil to the largest elephant on the planet we are all synchronized to the orbit of the planet.

This synchronized orbit controls the light and dark cycles that tell us when we should be awake and when we should go to sleep  known as our circadian rhythm.

We have  special nerve cells in our eyes that detect the level of blue light from the sun. The light from the sun  helps signal to brain, and the body whether we should be wide awake or getting prepared for bed.

As the sun sets at night there is a signal sent to an area of the brain called the pineal gland. That signal tells the brain and body it’s time to start winding down. In preparation for sleep the pineal gland begins secreting the hormone melatonin.

We have a number of uses for melatonin in our brain, but one the biggest jobs is it  decreases the stress hormones that promote being awake and alert.

As we sleep melatonin also enhances the appetite suppressing effect of leptin in the body. Leptin keeps you feeling fed while you sleep, instead of feeling hungry and waking you up. The more you sleep the more melatonin is produced.

Sleep is also a huge driver in the production and timed release of our neurotransmitters. The most notable neurotransmitters regulated by sleep are serotonin and dopamine, and associated with mood regulation.

As you read in Why We Overeat Part 1: Feast and Famine;  dopamine and serotonin both play large roles in driving our behaviors to eat certain foods that hit the reward center in our brain and cause us to want more of that food.

While Serotonin and Dopamine play a role in mood they are also big players in focus, motivation and the ability to concentrate.

Serotonin is converted to melatonin, so by sleeping in alignment with our biological rhythms the body times the release of serotonin so it can be converted into melatonin allowing us to wind down at night and sleep through the night.

We are designed to wake up in the morning light with high cortisol secreted from our adrenal glands.The stress hormone cortisol allows us to be awake, alert and ready to handle stress. We should have declining cortisol throughout the day, with it lowest at night so we can wind down and sleep.

We should also wake up from our sleep hungry with low blood sugar levels, and low insulin (storage hormone) because it has been at least 8 hours since our dinner the night before so blood sugar will be low along with insulin.

A Light Accomplice

Electricity and light provided a new era in which humans could have greater control over our environment. While it lead to many great advances in society, it came with a cost disrupting our circadian rhythm, and sleep cycle.

Electricity gave us renewable, cheap, never ending light. This light was a  way to control our environment unlike we ever had before.

The biggest discovery before electricity was fire, it allowed us to cook food and control our environment in way unlike before.

When you start to control your environment it will also change you if you are able to adapt. We have adapted to the constant light, but not all adaptations are positive ones.

Long hours of artificial light and constant dense carbohydrates register as the longer days of summer. Summer means it is time to eat more and gain body fat.

A New Way Of Living

So What happens when we don’t get enough sleep and how does this impact our appetite and overeating tendencies ? I thought you would never ask!

With a lack of sleep you end up with extremely low energy, decreased willpower, lower cognitive function, obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression, fat gain and hormonal dysregulation.

The unending light registers to the body as as long days of summer. From an evolutionary perspective it is an advantage to eat more sugar and carbohydrates to gain fat in preparation for winter.

These days we live in a constant "summer" according to our biological rhythms, that signal us to constantly eat, and gain fat in preparation for reproduction. 

You are staying up late watching TV or checking facebook instead of sleeping, the excess light blue light suppresses melatonin production.

The extra blue light keeps the stress hormone cortisol elevated much later than it should be, causing melatonin to be low. 

This late night artificial light also interferes with conversion of serotonin into melatonin. We need melatonin production to relax and sleep.

Cortisol And Insulin

High cortisol raises insulin and  means low melatonin. Low melatonin  makes it even more difficult to get to sleep.

The elevated cortisol late into the night means that it will not be raised in the morning when we need it to wake up and be alert. Coffee anyone ?

You use caffeine to help with feeling tired, but it only causes cortisol to stay elevated when it should be reducing throughout the day. This constantly high cortisol makes you feel rushed all the time and in a stressed state.

Cortisol is a blood sugar mobilizer causing higher blood sugar throughout the day. Stress and blood sugar dysregulation both lead to overeating on their own, but there is a lot more to this puzzle.

Our circadian rhythms are supposed to control our insulin production  and stress mechanisms. When we do not sleep enough cortisol stays elevated to help mobilize blood sugar to aid in the stress of being awake longer than we should.

Because you haven’t slept enough the body is less effective at managing blood sugar causing you to be hungry throughout the day and night.

Less sleep means reduced willpower, leading to  more impulsive unhealthy food choices. The thing is you are not hungry, you are tired and stressed out.

Melatonin, Leptin and Ghrelin

Less sleep means less melatonin production. The length of prolactin secretion depends on melatonin production.

If melatonin is disrupted by too little sleep, prolactin will be secreted during the day instead of night time when it should be. Prolactin secretion has a relationship to the satiety hormone leptin.

Leptin is produced in our fat cells  and is used a dipstick that tells the brain what our body fat levels are, and helps regulate satiety.

Ghrelin works opposite leptin and is the hunger stimulating hormone.  Depending on the season, and our body fat levels our appetite will be adjusted to eat more or less through leptin and ghrelin.

When the production of prolactin is pushed into the day, it suppresses leptin’s signal to the brain. Suppressed leptin registers as a lack of body fat meaning we need to eat more.

As a result the brain increases the cravings for carbohydrates and sweets through Ghrelin. Decreased sleep leads to decreased leptin, and increased ghrelin meaning you are going to have an increased appetite

As you get fatter the leptin from the increasing fat on your body makes you leptin resistant meaning that your leptin receptors have been overloaded and do not work properly.

Without the adequate function of leptin,your appetite stays switched on day and night causing you to overeat constantly.

The signals that you are sending your body is that you are living in a constant state of summer with shorter nights and longer days, and stressed out.

The adaptation to the constant summer is to keep your appetite increased, especially for sweets and carbohydrates.

The problem is living  in summer with no winter to balance out the feast and famine is sending the signal to overeat and store fat year round.

All feast, and no famine to balance the equation has lead us to a state of fat gain, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer.

Sleep Tips

A good starting place to avoid overeating and improve health is to prioritize sleep. When the sun goes down start winding down and have a routine for getting to bed.

Put away the screens at least an hour before bed to start making melatonin and calming down. If you have to be in front of a screen for work get a pair of blue blocker sunglasses. They block the blue lights and allow you to start making melatonin.

Avoid stressful activities and engage in some type of myofascial release such as using a foam roller or lacrosse ball to kick on the rest and digest parasympathetic and help you relax for sleep. Completely black out your room and make your room a little colder, both of these help with deeper more restorative sleep.

If you would like to read on more ways to improve your sleep read my blog post: 10 Ways To Improve Sleep

Fill out the form below if you’re looking for a coach who can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health, fat loss or muscle building goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable along the way.

 

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Why We Overeat Part 2: Stress

Hey folks if you haven’t already read part 1 of this series on overeating: Feast and Famine go ahead and do so to get some context for this post.

In the first part of this series we discussed how hunger works, and the fact that are hardwired for cycles of feast and famine.

Our ability to feast during certain times helped us to survive when dealing with famine. This same reward system that was crucial for overeating now works against us because our evolutionary habits don’t match with our current environment and modern foods.

When it comes to something as complicated as overeating, there are a lot of factors to consider and understand.

Once people understand the triggers for overeating they can work  towards a habit based reduction in the triggers and habits that lead to overeating.

In this blog post I am going to be discussing one of the biggest dark horses in overeating; stress. We have all heard mentions of stress or emotional eating,but Why does stress  cause people to overeat and make less healthy food choices ? Is it more of a mental or physical trigger ?

keep reading to learn more.

What Is Stress ?

Before we dive into the effects of stress lets define what it is,and dispel the myth that all stress is bad. Stress can be defined as a mental, physical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.

Stresses can be external such as ( social situations, environmental or psychological) or internal such as illness or a  medical procedure.

As an example building muscle from going to the gym and lifting heavy weights  is a beneficial stress response. Mini challenges to the immune system that allow it to grow stronger and fight off larger infections is a beneficial stress as well.

Certain forms of stress  that are short in duration are good for the body, but the poison is in the dose. Most folks are overdosing on stress daily.

How Stress Works In Your Body

We are adapted to handle infrequent short bouts of intense stress followed by time to rest and recover. Unfortunately our modern lifestyle is one of chronic low grade stressors that happen all day long with no time to recover.

Life requires the body to constantly be checking and establishing equilibrium.This equilibrium is known as homeostasis, for the purpose of this blog we are going to apply this to the  processes of appetite regulation, energy storage and use  as it relates to overeating.

Our stress response is a flow of adaptive changes that start in the central nervous system. This stress response is designed to be intense and  short in duration which causes mental, behavioral and physical changes.

Lets say we encounter a mountain lion on while on a hike. In response to the threat of a  mountain lion the body releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol to make the heart beat faster, increase the pulse  and move blood to the extremities to prepare for fighting or running away.

The secretion of cortisol also triggers the uptake of blood sugar into the cells to make sure all your energy can go towards fighting or running.

This stress causes the body to use all available blood sugar stored in the muscles or in the blood stream. The mountain lion sees you and runs away but you can still feel the effects of the stress hormones.

Adrenaline runs it course and is cycled out of the system in a short amount of time.Cortisol sticks around for much longer and signals the body to refuel after the stressful event.

We need to eat  sugar and  pack on  fat to make sure we’re prepared for any future fight or flight events.  

In everyday life a more likely stress is money for bills, traffic or an overbearing boss at work. The response is the same as the mountain lion though.

Adrenaline and cortisol is released to cope with the stress response. Your body doesn’t realize you are not fighting or running away.

The cortisol tells your brain to replenish sugar and store fat  in anticipation of the next stressful situation.  

Our stressed out lifestyle is just like coming across the mountain lion all day long.  We are not adapted to handle this volume of stress, but our body does it’s best  to adapt.

Assume our body has a stress bank, and each time you get stressed you make a withdrawal from the bank. We are all operating in extreme stress debt.

Just the same as any other bank sooner or later you have to pay back what you owe. The  currency we pay back our debt with unfortunately is our health.

Stress and Willpower

As we evolved and our brains grew we developed a larger prefrontal cortex. This prefrontal cortex allows us to set goals and regulate our actions.

This is the most evolved part of our brain that helps us to manage, and delay gratification. The prefrontal cortex helps you resist those sugar cookies because you want to look good for a trip to Mexico.

When the stress response is triggered it inhibits the function of our prefrontal cortex. Your ability to delay gratification and think of long term disappears.

In a fight or flight situation being impulsive is an advantage because your only focus is acting quickly and managing immediate threats.

In this state our body is concerned with improving  mood as quickly as possible, regardless of the consequences.

Someone who has something to live for is going to run much faster than a depressed person. The cravings are also  amplified to make sure you consume the foods that hit the reward center in the brain and elevate mood.

When this impulsive behavior is combined with reduced willpower and a perceived need to replenish blood sugar and elevate mood, it is a perfect recipe for overeating.

If overeating was due to occasional stress it wouldn’t be a problem. Our lifestyle and society is not conducive to occasional stress.

Comfort Foods = Sugar, Fat and Addiction

We are hardwired to crave dense sources of energy in the forms of sugar and fats, and processed carbohydrates. 

After consuming these energy dense foods the section of the brain that regulates stress starts to calm down and relax.

The reward system in the brain is triggered and dopamine is released to improve mood. It is a slippery slope when someone eats a food to feel better, not out of hunger.

Over time the same amount of food doesn’t elicit the same mood response, and the person has to eat more to achieve the feeling they are looking for.

Slight overeating can snowball into binging in an attempt to alleviate stress and feel better. The feelings of guilt and shame only create more stress and a vicious cycle that begins and ends with overeating.

While we are adapted to handle a certain amount of stress, beyond a certain point it damages our health and leads to cravings, drained willpower, impulsive behavior and eating to make us eat feel better instead of because of hunger.

I highly encourage you to find a form of stress reduction to do throughout the day. It can be taking your dog for a morning/nightly walk, writing in a journal, going to a yoga class or doing a form of meditation.

The very last post of this series is going to be dedicated to different methods that can be used to address each of the problems that stress provides.

In part 3 of this series I’ll be writing on another huge component of overall health that contributes to overeating.. stay tuned to see what it is!

Fill out the form below if you’re looking for a coach who can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health, fat loss or muscle building goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable along the way.


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Why We Overeat Part 1: Feast & Famine

We have all found ourselves excessively full in front of an empty plate after a meal that we barely remember eating.

We will reach for more food even though we are no longer hungry, the chip basket at the restaurant keeps getting refilled and we keep grabbing more.

It's  not that the occasional over indulgence will lead to chronic health problems and weight gain, but overeating on a daily basis is a direct contributor to many of the health problems. Those health problems include obesity, Type 2 diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, hypertension and metabolic damage.

We all have the same mechanisms  that help us regulate the amount we eat on a daily basis. When we have eaten enough nutrients, our gut signals our brain to turn hunger off  because we are well nourished this system works efficiently for most folks.

The question begs to be asked what causes some people to eat way more than their body needs while others can push the plate away when they are full ?

The first of this three part blog series I’m going explain how hunger works, how we are hardwired to overeat at times and how modern foods impact overeating.

How Hunger Works

Before we can talk about what might be going wrong in the hunger and satiety system it is important to get some context  of what hormones are at play, and how hunger is designed to work for people to balance the amount of food we eat.

Your stomach is empty and you have used up the fast acting energy. The stomach recognizes that we need fuel, and in response releases the hormone Ghrelin.

The hormone ghrelin interacts with the neurotransmitter in the brain neuropeptide Y (NPY). NPY turns on the desire  to eat and  we feel hunger signaling that we should eat.

After we eat a meal to satisfy our hunger ghrelin levels drop and Leptin is released from the stomach and fat tissue.

Leptin decreases the desire for food even further, and makes you feel full and well nourished. In a perfect world this is how our hunger and satiety is designed to work, however we do not live in a perfect world.

Primal Brains and Modern Foods

With this well developed system in place to help us regulate our energy balance in the body why can it be so easy to have a second bowl of ice cream or another handful of chocolate almonds even though we are full and satiated ?

To gains some insight into this questions lets take a look back in time. It is helpful to understand how our very distant relatives navigated their environment to ensure survival, and how that impacts us today.

When it comes to how our ancestors used to eat they regularly encountered feast and famine scenarios seasonally. When food was available they knew to gorge and eat as much as they could because those resources would not be available in the future.

We are hardwired to crave the taste of  energy dense foods to promote gorging.This was our way of knowing we needed to eat as much as possible to gain fat in preparation for famine.

From an evolutionary perspective we are hardwired to crave and gorge on these energy dense foods while they are available to ensure survival through  famines.

Using An Evolutionary Lens

Here is an example of how it worked in nature for our ancestors. When you saw a dense source of carbohydrates like fruit it meant it is late spring or summer and it is time to overeat and reproduce.

You eat lots of that fruit because the sweet taste signals this it was a safe and energy dense food. The sugar content of the fruit raises your blood sugar and the pancreas responds to the surge in blood sugar by releasing insulin.  

Insulin makes sure immediate energy reserves are met, and the rest of the sugar is sent to short term storage in your liver and muscles.

The short term storage is limited, and the extra sugar is converted to cholesterol and body fat as long term storage. Your body knows that with these energy dense foods available winter must be around the corner and it is time to prepare for a famine by gaining weight.

You have enough in short term and long term storage to get through tomorrow. This cycle is repeated on a daily basis while supplies last as an evolutionary advantage for times of famine.

The carbohydrate rich diet that we have adopted along with the low fat craze has dramatically tipped the macronutrient scale going against our biology.

Our hunter gatherer ancestors thrived on a seasonal diet for many years. The low fat craze along with the adoption of processed carbohydrates is a perfect recipe for more sugar we are designed to handle and in turn overeating and disease states as an adaptation.

We can use fat and carbohydrates for energy, if you remove one from the diet it means that we must rely on the other for all your energy.

Carbohydrates are fast acting source of energy but fat is a much longer burning source of energy. Fats help us to regulate our energy and keeps us feeling much fuller for longer. When fat was removed our foods we were forced to depend of processed carbohydrates as our source of energy all day long.

All Feast And No Famine

Our modern lifestyle is a mismatch with the hardwired feast and famine mentality. Today there is no famine, we are missing an important part of the equation that helps us to keep our energy balanced and prevent year round fat gain.

Energy dense foods were only available for part of the year as hunter gatherers, then they were gone until next year.

We now have energy dense foods  available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Our ancestors energy rich foods  contained nutrients, vitamins and minerals that satisfied and nourished them.

Our modern energy dense foods, provide many calories with very few nutrients.

Nature is smarter than we are and provides cyclical eating to help us manage our energy balance. It is an evolutionary advantage to get fat for certain parts of the year, but because our energy is out of balance we stay fat year round.

Not only have we abandoned cyclical eating, but we eat  processed foods that hijack the reward center in our brain because of how they are designed to taste.

The man made foods that hijack the reward center in our brain are very addicting as well. That addiction leads to overconsumption of foods on a yearly basis keeping us much fatter and sicker than we are supposed to be.

The addiction and food flavor design is a rabbit hole for another part of this series though.

Quality Impacts Quantity

The quality of foods that we eat have a large impact on the amount of food we are going to eat. The calories from foods that stimulate the dopaminergic pathway such as bread, pasta, grains, sugars and other processed can promote overeating.

These processed foods block the leptin signal turning off hunger and  cause people to overeat. On the other side foods such as healthy fats, veggies and protein are all high satiety foods that leave people feeling fuller for much longer.

The quality of food that you consume have a different metabolic effect on the body and hormones. Two meals with identical calories but one highly processed and the other from natural whole foods will interact with hormones and satiety very differently.

When we eat meals that contain processed carbohydrates it causes a surge in blood sugar, and the hormone insulin is released to store the extra sugar.

Excessive insulin in the body will block the signal of leptin telling the brain that we are full and satiated. Therefore the hunger signal stays turned on. This allows us to overeat foods that are designed to help us store fat, when we overeat like this on a daily basis it is a recipe for obesity and disease.

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health, fat loss or muscle building goals. 

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable and supporting you along the way. 

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around. 

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals than before, nothing to lose. Everything to gain!


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How Many Meals Per Day ?

When it comes to changing how someone eats one of the most common questions is how many meals a day should I be eating ?

There are different views on the topic of how frequently people should be eating. Some believe that eating breakfast is how you jump start the metabolism for the day, while others believe that having six smaller meals a day keeps your metabolism from slowing down.

On the other side of the coin there are the people who skip breakfast all together, and do some form of intermittent fasting.

In this blog post I am going to  discuss the myths and truths around the ideal meal frequency. What you should  be taking into consider when deciding how many meals to eat on a daily basis and why calories and food quality both matter.

Is Breakfast Really That Important ?

Breakfast is really the first meal of the day no matter what time it is. You are breaking the fast from dinner and overnight.

We have been told our entire life that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and aids in losing weight by jump starting the metabolism.

There is nothing physiologically special about breakfast. It is not essential in any way for boosting metabolism, and is no different from any other meal eaten throughout the day.  

There is no legitimate evidence that breakfast helps people lose weight. Those who typically skip breakfast have a higher likelihood of obesity though.

People who skip breakfast in an unplanned fashion are more likely to make poorer decisions later in the day when hunger strikes.

For those who are less health conscious, and have skipped breakfast having a pastry or a big fast food lunch to make up for breakfast is normalized.

Many folks who do skip breakfast end up overeating to compensate for the missed meal without thinking about it.

There are people who go for periods of time where they plan to avoid consuming calories,this is called intermittent fasting. There are some interesting health benefits from intermittent fasting that could make up an entire blog post.

Verdict: If you are hungry when you wake up go ahead and eat breakfast. If you are looking to lose body fat focus on protein, fat and veggies for breakfast.

If you’re not hungry skip breakfast, but make sure your other meals are healthy and you are not overeating to compensate.

More Meals Boosting Metabolism  ?

We have all been told the folk tale about  frequent smaller meals boosting the metabolism, this is false though.

It is one of those relics that sticks around even though it is not true. old myths die hard.

It is true that eating and digesting food does raise the metabolism. This is the thermic effect of food. The total volume of food digested at the end of the day is what matters most.

The energy expended to digest 3 big meals or 6 smaller meals of equal size will be the exact same.

Eating 6 meals of 300 calories is going have the exact same thermic effect as eating 3 meals of 600 calories. There is literally no difference in the energy expended between these two ways of eating.

For athletes looking to recover or those looking to gain muscle you will need to eat more frequently to fuel your activities and give the body a caloric surplus to use.

Verdict: Smaller more frequent meals compared to fewer larger meals creates no difference on total fat loss or the metabolic rate. At the end of the day with the metabolism what matters most is the total calories consumed. 

Balancing Blood Sugar

There are people who have trouble with chronically low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). These people typically have adrenal glands that  are so worn out that they can not adequately raise blood sugar when it gets low.

For these folks eating more frequent smaller meals that are macronutrient balanced is better than three larger meals

For others who do not have adrenal dysfunction and can regulate blood sugar adequately, meal frequency is less important.

People typically think of larger meals as creating larger spikes in blood sugar, compared to smaller meals creating smaller spikes in blood sugar.

What matters the most when it comes to spikes in blood sugar is the kind of foods that you are eating.

If you compare a  large salad with dressing and a chicken breast  to a turkey sandwich on wheat bread. Even though the salad may be larger in size the bread in the sandwich is going to cause the larger blood sugar spike. 

Verdict: If you have blood sugar regulation problems eating more frequently can be helpful to avoid letting levels get too low.

When it comes to balancing blood sugar the focus should be on the quality of foods.Certain foods even in small amounts quickly spike blood sugar such as bread or pasta. Other foods in large amounts have little effect on the blood sugar levels such as a salad with lots of leafy green veggies, nuts, seeds or coconut.

 Fasted Or Fed ?

intermittent fasting is strategically planning to avoid eating certain meals or during a period of time. Some people will choose to do 24 hour fasts or choose to skip breakfast daily.

Fasts usually last between 16-24 hours, and a large chunk of that time is going to be when the person is asleep ideally.

Living in our abundant society food is literally everywhere, so when someone chooses to not eat for an extended period of time they are likely to get questions and funny looks.

When looking at our eating from an evolutionary standpoint we are well adapted to handle both feast and famine. Today however we have a society of all feast and no famine.

Every religion in existence today has a form of fasting. In many cases it is viewed as a cleansing ritual which is funny because we now know that we have a cellular cleaning that happens during fasting.

This cellular house cleaning is named autophagy. During autophagy the body works on making cells function more efficiently and cleans up any waste products.

 Insulin sensitivity will be increased, which  means the body will more efficiently use carbohydrates due to fasting. This insulin sensitivity can also be achieved by strength training.

Verdict: Intermittent fasting has very interesting health benefits, but just like anything else in nutrition it may not work for everyone.

Intermittent fasting is a form of stress and those who are dealing with blood sugar, adrenal or sleep problems will not feel good if they attempt intermittent fasting. The key here is to experiment and see what works for you and fits your lifestyle. 

Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day what matters most is food quality and the total number of calories. In regards to fat loss and metabolism how many meals you choose to eat on a daily basis is up to you and makes no real difference.

Breakfast has no special metabolic effect, but can help prevent overeating and cravings.

If you are someone who has adrenal or blood sugar problems smaller more frequent meals or snacks may be helpful. Fewer meals would be a good option for folks who have digestive problems.

Some people will prefer to skip breakfast and have an intermittent fast. Finding what works for you is going to be individual.

Make sure that you are taking steps towards your goals and don’t blindly follow someone else's advice. Test and see what works best for you and helps you to reach your goals.

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

Evolve Nutritional Therapy Strategy Session


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