Thursday, January 30, 2014

How The Heck Do I Eat?

A new client of mine wrote to me today asking about meal frequency.  There's so much information out there, and not all of it's good.  As I wrote back to her, I realized I'd just written my next blog post.  So here's what I wrote.  Hope it helps some of you, too:


Eating several small meals throughout the day:
Everyone has something that works best for them.  The eating small meals throughout the day plan, if you like it, can work as long you are able to control portion sizes and manage total energy intake. This has nothing to do with the frequency of meals, but rather the total calories consumed.  Several studies have concluded that there is no real weight loss advantage to this style of eating:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20339363
It is important to consume plenty of fiber.
 
On Very Low Calorie Diets:
Eating too few calories can lead to problems as well-- diets like these often do not provide substantial nutrients, are not sustainable, and break down muscle as energy rather than fat.

On Intermittent Fasting:
Intermittent fasting has many benefits.  Basically, it provides just enough stress on the body to instigate positive change without causing an overreaction of stress mechanisms within the body (like cortisol, adrenaline response, inflammation, etc).  Most people are able to sustain it because it is not overly restrictive, and nutritional requirements are easily met.  

There are two basic methods of intermittent fasting.  In one scenario, once a week, a person will go 24 hours without eating (so, for instance, from 7:00PM Monday to 7:00PM Tuesday).  In the other scenario, which is the method I personally use, you fast 12-16 hours each day (essentially, I only eat between the hours of 1PM and 9PM).  I'm not overly strict-- if I'm super-hungry in the morning (I'm usually not, but it happens), then I eat.  But for the most part, this is the regimen I have been following for the last two years, and it works very well for me (and has worked for my clients who have tried it). 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15833943?dopt=Abstract
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/1/69.abstract?ijkey=83db7f2dc04b6eac3949f1818e9fe5f6e9395a82&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/90/5/1138.full

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone, and in the end, you need to follow the plan that works best for you.  Whatever method you choose, I highly recommend the following guidelines:

-cut out processed/white foods as much as possible
-cut down added sugars as much as possible
-go VERY HEAVY (at least 70% of your daily intake) on veggies, particularly dark green and orange ones
-allow yourself one cheat meal every week so you don't feel deprived (this actually can do good things for your metabolism, too)
-monitor your nutrient intake-- it's important to make sure you're getting everything you need!

Questions?  Comments?  What eating method do you you use?  Post yer thoughts below!

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