Eat Often to Lose Weight
Great books to get you started
When I first got into personal fitness I was lucky enough to come across some great information that has continued to work year after year for me. Most of what I’ll talk about here is based on what I have learned from two books. Those books are Body For Life and Eating For Life, both by Bill Phillips.
These days Bill Phillips has moved more toward the inspirational mind/body weight loss genre which is a little too much for me. Although I have little interest in his newer works, I continue to periodically reference the before-mentioned books for dietary tweaking and healthy recipes. What follows is a combination of diet and exercise which has worked well for me.
Well, kind of. The key here is to eat more frequently. There is a whole lot of technical research backing this idea. What it all seems to say is that eating smaller, more frequent meals keeps your metabolism running efficiently. This helps to eliminate harmful spikes in blood sugar and insulin as well. These are important factors to consider for healthy weight loss. I’m sorry to break it to you, but eating three meals a day is not the way to go.
Proof of this concept can be seen in the fact that humans, like many animals, used to be grazers. Before civilized living came about, human beings ate food as they found it. There was no refrigeration and food was not as abundant and easily obtained as it is today. If you found some berries you ate them right then and there and maybe saved some to eat as you foraged for other food. Obesity at this time was pretty much non-existent.
Eating several smaller meals rather than just the big three (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) helps to control overeating. Think about it. When your meals are fewer and farther between, your appetite is voracious by the time you eat. You tend to load up your plate and eat quickly because of how hungry you are.
The type of foods you eat is important as well. You want to consume quality calories. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats are the way to go. Each meal should ideally be composed of one portion of complex carbohydrates, one fiber rich veggies, and one portion of lean protein.
What is a proper portion size you ask? According to the books, a good way to judge proper portion size is by using your hand. A serving of carbohydrates should be about the size of your balled up fist while a serving of protein should be the size of your open palm. This can vary depending on your fitness goals. Those portions sizes are effective for losing weight. I tend to go a little bigger on the portion sizes since my goal is to add lean muscle mass which demands higher calorie intake. In this case I have learned what works for me. You should be satisfied but not stuffed at the end of a meal.
How many meals you should eat is up for debate. The general consensus is that six meals a day is best. That may sound like a lot, but some of these meals may take the form of quick snacks. I usually have three main meals with three snack meals in between. Snack meals allow you to eat quickly and on the go. This is important for the fast paced lifestyle that most of us currently enjoy.
Snack Meal Examples:
- Cottage cheese and fruit
- Cottage cheese and yogurt
- Nutrition bar
- Protein shake
- Low-fat cheese and whole wheat crackers
- Oatmeal with protein powder
- Hardboiled egg and fruit
- Small turkey wrap
- Tuna and crackers
Snack meals can be prepared beforehand and packed in a lunchbox or purchased on the go without much effort.
The three main meals are a little heartier. I try to include a serving of veggies with these meals for the fiber and nutrients that you just don’t get from the snack meals. These meals are what would typically be breakfast lunch and dinner.
Main Meal Examples:
- Veggie egg white omelet, whole wheat toast
- Oatmeal, scrambled egg whites
- Whole wheat turkey sandwich
- Chicken breast, steamed broccoli, brown rice
- Steak, asparagus, sweet potato
- Grilled fish, brown rice, salad
Main meals may also be prepared beforehand and packed in Tupperware containers for easy microwaving. It is also becoming increasingly easy to find healthy choices on restaurant menus which resemble the examples given above.
If you are eating the proper foods in the proper amounts your body should tell you when to eat. In my case this is every two hours. This is due to a very active lifestyle which includes exercise and weight lifting on a regular basis. Ideally, you should be eating at least every three hours. This allows meals to be spaced evenly throughout the day and helps to keep energy levels up. I actually find that might mental clarity improves with more frequent food intake as well.
This is important. Human beings were meant to be active. I know it’s hard to get a workout or a run in with our busy schedules but is 20 minutes too much to ask? I’ve had great results losing weight by jogging 20 minutes every other day. On the days that I don’t jog I lift weights. I usually spend about an hour with my weight lifting routine but even 20 minutes of weight lifting is better than none at all.
Many people who are trying to lose weight tend to shy away from lifting. Consider the fact, however, that your resting metabolic rate increases with the amount of lean muscle mass you have. This means faster weight loss!
I usually lift weights on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with jogging or bike riding on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. This alternating method allows the various muscles to recover and rebuild while also providing some variety in daily routine.
You can get in great shape without any supplements at all. I’ve done it before just for comparative reasons. They can be very helpful though when trying to get all your nutritional requirements on a tight schedule. I tend to stick mostly to the basics when it comes to supplementation. My tried and true favorites are:
- Protein powder
- Meal replacement shakes
- Omega 3-6-9 essential fatty acids
Protein powder and omega oil supplements are by far my favorites.
Optimum Nutrition protein powder gives the best quality for the price and has a lot of great flavors.
Udo's choice is my favorite omega supplement because it provides a blend of high quality of omega 3,6, and 9 oils all in one capsule.
This is the basic outline of what I have practiced for a number of years now. The latest testament to its effectiveness came after about an eight month period of inactivity, fast food, and beer drinking. While I was still not obese by any means I had definitely gained weight and my energy levels were extremely low. In a period of about two months I was able to lose all of the weight and add back the muscle I had lost by following this advice.
The hardest part of all is just getting started. If you can stick at it for a few weeks it will become routine and you will actually look forward to it everyday. Nutrition really is about 80% of the battle. It may seem hard to believe but you really can lose weight by eating more often.