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  • Writer's pictureHeather

Does Time of Eating Make Any Difference in Losing Weight

How many strategies have we heard about when we should eat and how it will affect our weight?

  • “Eat a big breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day”.

  • “Skip breakfast and eat a big lunch then a light dinner”.

  • “Eat 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day”.

  • “Don’t eat anything until dinner time and then eat as much as you want”.

Start with the disclaimer that there is no plan that is best for everyone. So much depends on our age, our activity level, the demands we put on our bodies, and many other factors. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s dive into some basics of weight management. When we eat, our body releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin’s job is to package the energy from the food we recently ate and release it into the blood stream to be burned. If we don’t need the energy right away, insulin sends the energy to be stored as fat. This is how we gain weight. Insulin has a second mechanism in sending messages to our energy production system. When excess insulin is being released, messages are sent telling our body to stop burning fat. The logic being our body doesn’t need to burn fat to produce energy when we are storing fat. This is where problems develop. Our American habit of eating meals based on the time of day means we are often eating when we don’t need any energy. Our body is releasing insulin and storing energy as fat. The signals are being sent telling our body to stop burning fat. Thus starts a vicious cycle where every few hours we feel hungry because the insulin has done a very efficient job of clearing the excess energy from our bloodstream and storing it as fat. Our blood sugar drops due to the efficient storing of fat, and we feel hungry. Sound familiar? The better way to determine when to eat is based on blood sugar and energy needs. Without too much biochemistry discussion, please allow me to explain. We wake in the morning with our blood sugar very stable. Our digestive system has worked during the night to process what we ate yesterday, restore our glycogen levels and balance blood sugar. We do not need any food in the first four or five hours we are awake. This means if we wake at 7:00 in the morning, we don’t need to eat anything until around 11:00 or 12:00. Contrary to popular belief, breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. Unless you are under 10 years of age or a highly competitive athlete. If we consume our first meal four to five hours after waking, we then should eat again within eight hours of our first meal. This means we eat all our food for a day within eight hours. That leaves sixteen hours each day for our energy system to process the food, provide energy to our body and maintain a very stable blood sugar level. In brief, this is the concept of intermittent fasting – not eating for 16 hours of every day. I know the objections will be many and the reasons will be exceptional. “But I’m hungry when I wake up”. “I can’t go that long without eating”. The key is to maintain consistent, low blood sugar levels. This keeps the insulin release in check and minimizes fat storage. As we adapt to intermittent fasting, our body is encouraged to become more efficient at burning fat for energy and not storing as much fat. We feel less hunger and longer satiety throughout the day. My last disclaimer – this program only works if we consistently consume very balanced and nutritious food. This form of eating will absolutely fail miserably if we consume typical American junk food, fast food or most any food that is delivered through our car window or to our front doorstep. Try it and be amazed at the difference in energy, weight management and overall vitality.

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