This is part 2 of a 3 part series. These are the basic tips to healthy nutrition for life as well as safe and effective fat loss. Continue adding these new habits to your daily routine and enjoy the benefits of great health and a slim body.
5. Find balance in your meal frequency
(3 meals w/snacks; 5-6 small meals), properly timed.
Ideally, you want to eat a supportive meal every 3-4 hours. Eating frequently stabilizes your blood sugar levels, providing a steady flow of quality fuel to your muscles and brain. This helps to steady your mood and boost your energy. Besides making you feel better, this increased energy can help further fat loss because you will naturally want to be more active.
- Another benefit of a stable blood sugar levels is a suppressed appetite. By eating a supportive meal, frequently, you are reprogramming your appetite. You will begin to have fewer cravings and binge less often because you no longer experience the pain of hunger.
- When you constantly give your body food with small meals your body does not feel the need to store fat. On the contrary when eating large, infrequent meals your body feels the need to store some food as fat for it is unsure as to when it will be fed again.
- Nutrient timing is important because consuming food triggers digestion, and digestion requires calories. By eating more frequent, smaller meals, you continuously supply your body with nutrients while forcing it to digest and break down the foods. This, in turn can have the net effect of raising your metabolism.
- Supportive foods require more energy to be digested. This is called the thermic effect of food (calories used to digest food) and is part of the reason why, when you begin to eat supportively you are going to feel like you are eating what appears to be a tremendous amount of food. That’s because you’re taking out so many of those empty calorie foods and replacing them with high quality proteins and complex, nutrient rich carbohydrates.
- To truly grasp the metabolism concept, picture your metabolism as a fire. The food you eat will fuel this fire. The stronger your fire burns, the more calories and fat your body will burn. But if you don’t replenish the fuel often enough, the fire will die down which means your body is burning less calories (energy). So, if you don’t eat often enough, your metabolism slows down and you don’t burn through calories very quickly. Worse yet, your body will begin storing almost everything that you do eat as fat! In essence, every time you starve yourself in your honest effort to “lose weight”, you are actually slowing down your metabolism as well as making your body more efficient at storing fat.
- Missing a meal will not only leave you hungry, increasing the likelihood of making a poor food choice later on but it will also lower your metabolism over time. Sugar and fat cravings will also increase since your body needs immediate energy. When you frequently skip breakfast for example you put your body in a physiological condition where it’s more likely to store fat than burn it.
- Always eat breakfast! This is the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast will only send the message to your body that you’re starving because you haven’t had food in over 8+ hours. Plan your meals so that you eat within an hour of waking. Eating a supportive breakfast will give you a boost of energy and prevent you from craving high sugar/high fat foods later in the day.
- Reduce starchy carbs for dinner. As you move towards the end of your day the hormonal balances in your body will naturally begin to fluctuate. Many hormones related to metabolism will decrease as your body senses sleep coming on with the decrease in light. In particular, insulin sensitivity, lowers as your move into the evening hours making it much, much easier to store excess carbohydrates as fat after dinner.
Therefore, you should look to minimize eating starch carbohydrates (pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, etc) with dinner unless you have a very high metabolism or energy needs. You’re encouraged to minimize or eliminate starch carbohydrates. Look to consume carbohydrates mostly from vegetables sources at dinner. Make sure to get your unsaturated fat (ex. olive oil, flax seed, cold water fish, avocado, etc) along with the correct portion size of protein for your calorie requirements. Starchy carbohydrates are best for your body composition in the morning and after your workout.
6. Drink plenty of water.
Over 70% of your bodily functions take place in water. A lack of water causes all your systems to slow down including your metabolism. Consume at least 8-12 eight ounce glasses of water throughout the day. It is the most important nutrient in the human body and has many benefits involving fat loss. Proper hydration will increase the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream which in return will increase your body’s fat burning ability.
* Alleviate cravings: When a craving hits, down a glass of water and wait about 10 minutes. Chances are, you were just thirsty. Drinking plenty of water keeps you satisfied, energetic, young and on track!
* Choosing water instead of caloric drinks will save you many calories. Avoid caloric drinks (soda, alcohol, cream and sugar for coffee, fruit juice, vitamin water).
7. Supplement your efforts.
Nothing burns fat better than healthy muscles. The best way to maintain and even build lean muscle is to ensure all of your nutrient needs are being met. If you’re going to cut back your calories, you have to make sure that you are not depriving your body of vital nutrients. In fact, now that you’ll be exercising more (or more intensely), your nutrient requirements are going to increase so your body can recover from your workouts.
- You lead a busy lifestyle. There are some days when you just don’t have the time or opportunity to eat often enough or to choose the best foods. The holes left in your nutrition plan must be filled with nutrients in some manner. If not, your body will take them from your muscles, which will ultimately lead to a slower metabolism. The best solution to this is adding high quality supplements into your nutrition plan. We recommend that you start with a multivitamin and fish oil to ensure that you have the vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids (EFA’s) that your body needs to maintain and even add lean muscle. Your body will be more prepared to fight illnesses and have the raw materials necessary to achieve a lean and fit physique.
- Refuel for Quick Results. Want results? Recovery is the key. While you will only be engaging in these intense resistance exercises for less than one hour, it is what you eat in the 60 minutes before and the 30-60 minutes after your workout that can determine how effective all your hard work will be at moving you towards your goals. Do you exercise on an empty stomach? Do you know what is your body using for fuel? When you exercise on an empty stomach, your body is using muscle protein for fuel because it doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to burn. If you start your workout well-fueled, your body will burn a combination of the carbohydrates stored in your muscles and the fat stored in your fat cells. Eat within one hour of working out to keep your metabolism burning strong and to spare your muscle.