Best Meal Timing for Weight Loss

April 7, 2014

Larger vs. Smaller, More Frequent Meals for Weight LossThe debate between more frequent, smaller meals versus three larger meals is a food face-off worthy of chatter. However, the clear winner of this dieting strategy battle isn’t so clear cut, and a recent study suggests the winner isn’t even on the battlefield. When it comes to weight loss and meal timing, it all boils down to one factor: calories consumed.

Researchers at the University of Warick investigated whether timing of meals had an impact on calories burned throughout the day and the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in lean and obese women. Women were given either two larger meals or five smaller meals on different days, and researchers monitored the number of calories each woman burned.

The researchers found the both groups of women burned the same number of calories throughout the day. However, obese women who ate smaller, more frequent meals had higher levels of endotoxins in their bodies, which cause inflammation and increase the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

The bottom line is you need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. Eating shouldn’t be stressful. You don’t need to be overly obsessive, but you need to be aware of what you’re putting into your body. Keep your calorie intake in check by using a few simple tips to be more mindful.

Keep a journal. Write down everything you eat, even those seemingly small samples at the grocery store. Keeping a food journal can be an eye-opening experience. Sometimes you forget that those small servings add up to a lot of calories, and cutting a few munching sessions per day can save you 1,000 calories. Journaling also makes you think twice before you eat. You are forced to ask yourself, “Do I really want to log these calories?” If you do decide to go the food journal route, don’t cheat. The only person your hurt is yourself.

Cut calories, not nutrition. When you cut back on calories, sometimes you cut out necessary nutrition, which will trigger the feeling of hunger. Make sure you’re increasing your intake of nutrient-dense foods, like vegetables, lean protein, and fruits, and decreases your intake starchy, calorie-dense foods like white rice, potatoes, white bread, and pasta.

Plan your meals. Visualize what you plan on eating for each meal. You can even plan your weekly dinners before you go to the supermarket to avoid extra shopping trips. Try to include carbohydrates, protein, and fat in each meal to keep you feeling satisfied for a longer period of time.

Eat slowly. Slow and steady wins the race. Not only will eating slowly help you cut calories, but your food will be more enjoyable. If you’re in the habit of eating fast, challenge yourself to put your utensil down between each bite. This gives your body time to process the nutrients and signal when you are satisfied. By doing this, you’ll also have more leftovers, which means less planning on your end. It’s a win-win!

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