For years I heard people recommend eating 6 small meals a day. I tried it and felt awful! I actually gained weight back then and that definitely was not the goal. For a long time I just figured it didn’t suit my particular metabolism. I know people who feel they need a snack between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner and others who prefer to graze all day long. While I don’t tell people they can’t snack, in Today is Still the Day, I do talk about this:
“One of our goals in this plan is to switch over from being a sugar burner to becoming a fat burner. One effective strategy is to stop snacking between meals because every time you eat, you spike your insulin levels, which prevents fat burning and encourages fat storage. Eating between meals creates insulin resistance, so I strongly suggest cutting out snacks and just eating properly structured meals.” p. 62
I talk about eating properly structured meals that include the highest quality foods from each of the three macronutrients – protein, carbs and fats. The carbs are primarily from fiber-rich, non-starchy veggies and the fats are healthy fats from olive, avocado, hemp and flax oils, pasture butter and coconut oil as well as nuts, seeds, olives, avocados and meat from grass fed and finished animals.
When you truly nourish your body at the cellular level, you will find you are not looking for snacks because you are truly satisfied. Well-structured meals turn off hunger hormones and normalize blood sugar and insulin levels.
Eating constantly throughout the day sets you up for exhaustion and premature aging as well as less fat burning and here is why:
When you eat, the process of digestion begins. This requires your body to expend time and energy breaking down that food into molecules that can be absorbed and utilized. Complete digestion usually takes six hours or more. When you snack in between meals, in effect you are asking your body to restart a process it has not completed from the last time you ate. This leads to weight gain because when your body cannot absorb and utilize food, it stores it as fat. Additionally, restarting the process of digestion by snacking cuts short your body’s ability to burn fat in between meals because there is almost no “in between” meal time.
That makes sense, don’t you agree? And I haven’t even touched on the quality of most “snacks” which are usually high carb, junk foods. But it is true even if they are healthy foods. This is why intermittent fasting, which restricts your feeding to one or two meals within a small window of time, is so effective. It gives your body that down time it requires to process the fuel you put in it.
Are you a snacker? Do you eat 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day? How has that affected you?
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I love this topic, Ann. I intermittent fast and wait to eat my first meal until my body says it’s time, which ranges from 11 am to 4 pm, usually on the later end. I have two friends with masters in nutrition and they both subscribe to the small meals. But here’s the thing, one of them bikes everywhere round, so she needs to eat before her 20+ mile commute to work and her 20+ mile ride home. She also competes year round, so not your typical American. The other one has a very type A, perfectionist, control freak personality and confesses that if she restricted her feeding window, that could get very dangerous very quickly. Like with everything, we’re all different. It takes time to learn to listen to your body. But generally speaking, I think you’re right on. Just say no to snacking!
Absolutely Holly!! We are each unique – we have different lifestyles and needs. Small meals or 3 meals or intermittent fasting – bottom line is you have to listen to your body and do what works best for you!