This is a guest post by Charlotte DebeugnyÂ from the website NutritionInParis.com
Why you should not be eating little and often if you want to lose weight…..
Did you know that the Mr Joe Bloggs in the 1950â€˜s used avoid snacks and happily last the 4-5 hours between meals without snacking?Â Fast forward to Mr Joe Bloggs today and the average time spent without an item of food passing his lips is 90 minutes.Â Just 90 minutes!Â Iâ€™ve lost count of the number of people who have told me that â€˜they need to eat little and often to maintain their metabolismâ€™.Â Certain people do benefit from eating frequent meals – those that want to put on weight, athletes, small children and people with digestive problems who are trying not to overload their digestive systems.Â For most of us though, the longer we can last between meals the faster and more efficient our â€˜fat burningâ€™ is going to be.
So whatâ€™s the issue with eating little and often?
- Â Studies show that people tend to eat more overall if they are constantly snacking
- Â Itâ€™s easy to lose track of how muchÂ you’veÂ actually eaten on a daily basis
- Â Most of the snack foods are not particularly healthy anyway…..!
- Â The metabolism myth is not supported by recent scientific studies
And whatâ€™s the advantage of eating less frequently?
The big advantage is that leaving a large window between meals allows the â€˜fat burning friendlyâ€™ hormone, glucagon to release stored energy from muscles and tissues (such as adipose or fat tissue) back into the blood stream.Â When we eat a hormone called insulin is secreted to help shuttle the energy from our digested foods into body cells and organs where it is either used directly for energy or stored for future use.Â Think of insulin as a â€˜body builderâ€˜.Â Glucagon is the â€˜skinny minnyâ€™ hormone as it does the opposite of insulin and helps us to melt our fat stores by breaking them down.Â The two hormones work like a see saw.Â When insulin levels are high, glucagon levels are low.Â For glucagon levels to be high, insulin levels need to be as low as possible.Â How to achieve this?Â By leaving at least 4-5 hours between meals and snacks……
Used to eating little and often but keen to try eating less frequently?
Protein foods are digested slowly and do not trigger an excessive release of insulin in the same way that processed carbohydrates do.Â They help to keep you feeling full longer and better able to last longer periods of time without needing to eat again.Â Try to ensure that all your meals contain a protein (meat, fish, chicken, beans, lentils, nutsÂ and seeds) and slowly start to reduce the snacks.
For ultimate â€˜fat burningâ€™ try not to eat after your evening meal until breakfast the following day.Â This will give you a window of 12 or more glorious hours to break down those fat stores!
Final food for thought.Â In this Western obesogenic environment itâ€™s rare that we will ever starve.Â We tend to panic at the first signs of hunger and reach immediately for some food.Â Just remember – itâ€™s ok to feel hungry and we can actually wait for a couple of hours until our next meal is due!
The bottom line is that you need to find a way of eating that suits you.Â The right diet is the one which works for you but with increasing studies looking at the health benefits of less frequent eating, it might be time to try a new approach.
Charlotte is a nutritionist living and working in Paris. Find out moreÂ http://www.nutritioninparis.com/en/