Friday, December 4, 2015

How often should I eat to maximize fat and weight loss?

Myself and our staff get this question very very often.
3x a day, 5x a day, intermittent fast, or 7 small meals a day to “burn” more calories?

The definitive answer, once and for all is( drum roll please) It all depends.
I know, not the answer you’re looking for.
Everyone is different, has different likes/dislikes, works different hours, has different social and work obligations etc...
Ultimately fat loss comes down to consuming less calories and moving more( and sometimes a combination of the two).
So how to you determine a “good plan” to follow?
Well the “eat 6 times a day to increase your metabolism” is not true.
The calories you burn by consuming food is called TEF(thermic effect of food). The “cost”  of doing this on average is 10% of the calories you consume in a day.
2500 calories consumed, equals 250 kcal's burned essentially processing them. It doesn't matter if it took you 2meals or 7 meals to get the 2500 calories. TEF will be the same(250 calories burned).
So eating smaller meals, more frequently isn't more effective for fat loss, than larger meals( assuming calories and protein are the SAME).
Ill list a few pros and cons of smaller meals and you can decide for yourself what works better for you.
 Pros of smaller meals, in my opinion and experience NONE. 
It takes more work, more clean up, more time spent from being productive in other areas etc.  Also, if you're consuming a low calorie diet (1200 calories or so) those small meals ( approx kcal's)150-250 each, you’re never really going to feel full/satisfied. Some people can handle that, others will struggle and end up over eating/bingeing.

Positives of larger meals, client stays “fuller” for a longer period of time. The meals are more substantial. It allows for more freedom in food choices as well as not having to bring tupperware everywhere you go. For many clients, having a larger meal at night, prevents some mindless snacking and many also report having an easier time falling asleep. Many people are afraid of carbs or food after some arbitrarily established time(usually 6pm). This is utter non sense. There is no food fairy that is hovering around your dinner table and after the magic time of 6pm, they start to sprinkle magic fat onto your food.
The reason this myth still exists is to to strategic marketing of various products/plans as well as the fact that you’re removing calories from the daily consumption. Most people don't tend to eat extra servings of broccoli and fruit after 6pm. Its usually dessert, ice cream, chips, beer etc. This could easily add 500-750+ calories to your daily total.
If you REMOVE that many calories from the diet, it doesn't matter what time the extra calories are subtracted from the daily diet.( no matter what Oprah professes)
Take into consideration shift workers, we have a few paramedics/FF’s/nurses and police that work overnights and still find a way to lose weight/get leaner. 
Your metabolism works 24/7, not just up until 6:01pm EST.
Take home message:
1.Try to consume protein at every meal ( approximately the size of a deck of cards) will equate to 25 grams of protein, give or take.
For carbs, the size of your closed fist will give you approximately 25 carbs. 
For fruit choices(carbs as well) visualize a tennis ball to gauge portions.
For fat sources, 1/2 ping pong ball will do the trick.
Most people severely UNDER estimate how much food they consume as well as OVER estimate how many calories they burn during exercise. This is obviously a bad combo. Use the above tips to help with portion control.

Clients have lost weight on 3 meals, 5 meals, 6 meals and 2 meals plus 2 snacks a day( Im probably missing a few combinations as well).
What really matters is picking a plan you can follow. Trying to make 1200 kcal's last through 5 meals is pretty tough. If you’re able to consume 2500 or more, eating 8-9x day of 275 kcal's probably isn't practical either. So in that case, a few larger meals of 400-500 kcal's or more plus a few snacks will do the trick.
Don't stress over the frequency of meals. It can be 4 one day, 5 the next and 2 larger meals with 1-2 snacks. The added stress could set you up for failure and potentially cause or have food issues re-emerge.
If I had to pick one thing, it would be to consume a quality protein at every meal. This will help build and maintain muscle as well as promote satiety. Protein sources are:
Low fat dairy(yogurt/cheese/cottage cheese), chicken breast,turkey breast, fresh fish(cod/haddock/halibut/tuna tilapia) shell fish, eggs, egg whites/beaters, filet, lean 
sirloin and salmon.
Hopefully this article helps you with determining what works best for you.
As always, if you have any questions, please email us and we will be happy to point you in the right direction( for you).

Chris Tybor

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