It’s early February and you may be coming off some New Year’s resolutions that were strict or restrictive when it came to eating. As much as we’d like to rely on self-discipline and will power, severely restricting things about our diet is not sustainable for the long run and may actually hurt our chances of reducing body fat.
We may send the body into survival mode where it stores as much fat as possible and uses muscle as energy (slowing our metabolism), we may make up for days without eating certain foods by bingeing on them later, or we might not have as much energy as we need and have less than stellar workouts. More than anything, it can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.
WHY SHOULD YOU DO IT?
- Eating several small meals throughout the day keeps your metabolism going strong, ensures you’re maintaining muscle mass, and keeps your body out of fat storage mode.
- It helps to reduce body fat.
- It’s sustainable for the long-term.
- It ensures you have enough physical energy to meet the demands of your busy life.
- It sustains your mental and emotional energy.
- It improves your health.
HOW DO YOU DO IT?
- Eat about every 3 hours from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed.
- Eat only to the point of feeling satisfied, not full.
- Alternate light meals with small snacks of about 100 calories, a little less if you’re trying to reduce body fat.
- Make sure to include protein in your meals and snacks as it keeps you feeling fuller longer.
- Strike a balance of 80/20: if 80% of what you eat is intelligently chosen for it’s nutrient value, you can have 20% of your calories come from things that just taste good. It’s not all or nothing – it’s a healthy, sustainable balance.
Here’s a past blog post I wrote that expands on this – take a peek if you have a minute as it’s got some really good information that could make a big difference for you.
7:00 AM Breakfast:
- 1 slice of whole-wheat toast with peanut/almond butter and jelly (I LOVE the Hemp Bread from French Meadow Bakery sold in grocery stores – it’s high in fiber and protein and keeps me satisfied all morning.)
- 1/2 banana
9:30 AM Snack
- 1 small container of low-fat yogurt or 1 piece of fruit
12:00 PM Lunch
- 1/2 turkey sandwich with cheese, lettuce and tomato. (White cheeses have less saturated fat and make a better choice.)
- Mixed fresh vegetables like carrot sticks, sliced cucumber and cherry tomatoes
- 1 small bag of chips
3:00 PM Snack
- 1/4 cup of mixed nuts and dried fruit
6:00 PM Dinner
- 4-5 oz grilled chicken
- 1 cup of cooked pasta
- 1 cup of cooked vegetables
8:30 PM Snack (optional – depends on how late you stay up)
- 1 piece of string cheese
- 1 small handful of whole grain crackers