A calorie is a calorie, right?
Well, not really. When you eat may be as important as what you eat. In a recent study in the International Journal of Obesity, mice fed during their usual sleep hours (daytime in the mouse world) weighed 7.8% more than mice that ate at night (when your average mouse is awake). According to the authors, “Simply modifying the time of feeding alone can greatly affect body weight.”
We have long known the benefits of 5 small meals or snacks daily, rather than stacking all of your calories at night. Skip breakfast, and you’ll over eat at night. Here are some tried and true concepts:
- Each meal or snack should contain protein to keep the metabolism high. Eating protein increases your metabolism.
- Snacks should contain fewer than 200 calories, and be limited in carbs. Ideally, 25 grams or less. High carb snacks make you hungry, and increase insulin, which causes fat building.
- When eating carbs for meals or snacks, add some protein, to reduce the rise in insulin that occurs with eating carbs by themselves.
- Limit eating just prior to bedtime. We burn fat at night, and eating after 9PM may limit your chances of burning fat that night.
I just saw a patient who was eating only one meal daily, but couldn’t stop eating once he began supper. By spreading his intake out over 5 small meals, he was much more successful in losing weight. More importantly, he had more energy and less hunger.