Should you eat 6 small, healthy meals each day or skip snacks and fast occasionally?
The diet fads seem to flip flop on a weekly basis. Amongst all the chaos, let’s figure out what’s right for you! These tips will help you optimize meal timing in order to balance weight, improve energy, or regulate hormones.
So what’s the magic answer to this age old question?
I recommend both strategies and cater my recommendations to the client’s unique physical presentation.
THE PERKS OF SEVERAL SMALL MEALS
Perk #1. Balance Blood Sugar
Blood sugar imbalance is a huge problem with which most of my clients struggle. The body becomes addicted to and use to quick and frequent shots of energy in the form of sugar.
Consequently, the body starts to depend on constant fuel. The survival mechanism humans have to go long stretches without food gets rusty. Most people eating the standard American diet start to power off if deprived of fuel for 7+ hours.
Those struggling to drop weight, increase energy, or sleep throughout the night are typically blood sugar imbalanced. They often have blood sugar dips in between meals (and in the middle of the night, causing them to wake).
There are 4 key steps to balancing blood sugar.
1. Eating a small meal or snack frequently is a good initial step to prevent blood sugar dips.
2. Next replace processed foods, which are high in refined carbohydrates and sugar.
3. Consume meals containing natural fat, protein, and unprocessed carbs (e.g. fruit and vegetables).
4. Next, cut out sugar and caffeine for 30+ days.
This process helps to retrain the body to burn fat as fuel between meals.
If you’re feeling tired without all the sugar stimulants, work on improving sleep quality.
Perk #2. Improve Digestion
When eating smaller meals, people tend to eat more slowly and more mindfully. Your digestive system works better when it is not overloaded by too much food. Healthy digestion is key to weight loss and overall health.
Furthermore, when you eat slowly, your body has time to tell your brain that it is full before you overeat. Overeating unhealthy food can lead to weight gain and a host of other health issues.
(Having said that, please make sure to eat plenty of healthy food and don’t cut your calories dramatically as that will negatively impact your health. Most people eat too few of the good quality calories.)
THE PROS OF SKIPPING SNACKS
Our ancestors didn’t have a supermarket or gas station on every corner with food. They labored to find their food, and there were times of both feast and famine.
A healthy person should comfortably go for a day or so without food before refueling. So why can’t most of us do that?
The bodies of most modern day folks have adapted to rely on sugar and carbohydrates as a fuel source rather than on fat. This causes us to be sugar burners vs. fat burners, like our ancestors.
Luckily, it’s possible to turn the tide and become a lean, mean, fat-burning machine. Start by balancing your blood sugar (see above tips) before moving forward with the action steps listed below.
There are several benefits of cutting snacks. This change in your eating habits will help you do the following:
#1. Burn adipose tissue (body fat) more efficiently
#2. Improve athletic endurance
#3. Support digestion
#4. Increase daily detoxification
#5. Balance weight.
1. Replace processed food with delicious, nutrient dense, whole-food fuel as a first step. Eat healthy snacks between meals.
2. Spend 2-4+ weeks on a paleo type diet, which will help balance your blood sugar. Continue eating healthy snacks.
3. Remove the snacks and see how you feel. If your energy dips without them, eat snacks for several more weeks until you no longer need them.
4. Transition back onto some healthy starchy carbs, such as sweet potatoes.
5. Enjoy the benefits of being a fat burner!