I’ve been asked many times by clients and other gym goers.... How often and how much do you eat Stuart? When I respond 5-7 times a day, the look they give me is one of shock considering I weigh 72kg and I’m fairly lean. Now what I can tell you is I’m on no ‘magic’ diet, I have a healthy relationship with food in that I eat pretty healthy 80% of the time, but by no means do I deprive myself of a treat now and then. So what is my secret......?
Many people think that the way to losing weight is to cut out food, skip breakfast, skip lunch, have one or two meals a day as this will help them to reduce calories.....and to an extent this maybe true if you are actually in a calories defect, however, I find most people that do this eat alot more calories when they do eat as their body is craving fuel from food. Our bodies can only absorb a certain amount of energy at one time. If we consume to much food in one sitting we cannot cope with the amount of calories we are consuming, therefore we store this excess fuel as an energy reserve (FAT), and because our body is not getting the fuel it needs regularly, it will slow down how it breakdown food for energy.
To lose weight it is a pretty simple equation – we need to be in a calorie defect! We need to be consuming less calories, and burning more energy than our body requires, however, our body still needs energy to survive, to move, to think and to get on with our day to day life.
Think of your metabolism as a fire. In order for a fire to burn we need to feed it....we feed it charcoal, wood etc for it to burn. Our metabolism works in kind of the same way. We need to feed our body in order for it to burn more calories. Now when I say feed it I don’t mean a massive 1500kcal burger and chips with all the trimmings, I’m talking about good quality proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
The main reason for eating little and often in our diets is that when we eat food we use calories to breakdown the food we eat, this is called the thermogenic effect of food (TEF). To transfer the energy potential and nutrients in food we have to use energy (calories) to unleash it. This means that providing we eat SMART and make the correct choices, we can eat and lose weight.
Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats all require varying amounts of energy to break them down. Carbohydrates will use approximately 7% of calories consumed to break it down, protein 27%of calories consumed to break it down, and fat 3% of calories consumed to break it down. For example if we eat 100kcals of pure protein then 27kcals will be required to break it down , leaving you with 73 kcals to fuel our body. You can see that carbohydrates and fats are a lot lower in energy requirement meaning more energy or calories goes straight to the body.
The spacing of meals is important too. It is important to space your meals and snacks evenly throughout the day and eat your bigger meals when you are physically more active. By providing your body with a regular supply of balanced nutrients you can avoid sugar cravings, tiredness, loss of energy and irritation which can all lead to bad food choices.
My recommendations are to space meals and snacks out every 3-3.5 hours, and have a combination of good quality carbohydrates, proteins and fats split out something like 40% carbohydrates /30% protein/30% fat. Remember you need to be in a calorie defect to lose weight so these meals and snacks will be alot smaller than what you have been consuming with just 2 meals a day. For example if I am on a 1800kcal a day diet, 450kcals could be my breakfast/lunch and dinner leaving me with two snacks of around 225 kcals (This is just an example and calories and food intake will variety from person to person). Plan your meals ahead of time so you know exactly what you’re having, and cook or make your meals in bulk so you have these ready for the week.
So as you can see it is vitally important for your health, fitness and well being to be eating more frequently, and to have a healthy relationship with food for long term success. At Build a Body we do not believe in any fad diets, magic pills or drastic calorie reductions as this leads to a yo-yo effect and is not sustainable long term. For more help and support please feel free to contact us via our website or like our facebook and instagram page @buildabodyfitnesspt for more articles and updates on nutrition and exercise.