In Part 1 of the Ultimate Fat Loss Diet plan, I talked about how the body becomes most efficient at burning fat when the majority of our calories are consumed from fat and protein, while minimizing our intake of carbohydrates. This diet also works to preserve our muscle mass so that the weight loss we experience is truly fat loss and not lean muscle mass. In Part 2, I’d like to discuss how the timing of when we eat can turbocharge our fat loss efforts.
Often times when reading about dieting, ‘experts’ recommend that we consume multiple small meals throughout the day to get a steady level of energy and keep our metabolism levels running high. This can often manifest as:
Still Evening: Dessert
Nighttime: Bedtime Snack
Total = 6 or 7 small meals spread throughout the day.
This type of diet timing can often times leave us unsatisfied and hungry as we are only consuming a few hundred calories at each sitting. And because our bodies become accustomed to eating every few hours, if we cannot make that schedule, we get ‘hangry’. Plus, there is the hassle of always having to plan your life around eating because you have to every few hours.
There’s a lower stress approach to eating that works in lock-step with the high fat and protein focus covered in Part 1. When you consume the majority of your calories from fat and protein, what you will naturally notice is that you won’t be as hungry as often. That is because instead of going though cycles every few hours where your body demands energy from glucose and carbohydrates, your body becomes much more efficient at burning fat, which you have plenty of laying around your body! When your body is able to burn fat for energy, you don’t have to worry about feeding every few hours. You can go hours, even days, without getting hungry because you are getting your energy from your stored body fat. This turbocharges your fat loss!
This type of eating plan is often times referred to as ‘intermittent fasting’. Fasting has multiple health benefits in addition to fat loss. It can help regulate your mood, energy, concentration, and clarity of thinking all because you now how a steady energy source instead of the roller coaster ride of peaks and valleys. It has also been shown to be more effective at fighting disease and elongating your lifespan! Intermittent fasting is the technique of condensing the window in which you consume your daily calories. For example, instead of waking up and immediately eating breakfast, perhaps you skip breakfast and don’t eat your first meal until noon. This may seem impossible at first, but as your body adapts to this new types of foods your eating, you might naturally not be hungry first thing in the morning anymore. So instead of the pattern above where you have to eat every 2 or 3 hours, your day might look like this instead:
First meal: noon
Second meal: 4 pm
Third meal: 5 pm
Fourth meal: 6 pm
The timing above is now how I approach my day. I don’t eat until noon because honestly, I’m not hungry until then. I try to get my workout in about 1 hour after my first meal to give my body time to digest and so that I have the energy to get through a tough workout. After my workout, I try not to eat for at least two hours to give my body a change to maximize the growth hormones produced during an intense workout. As soon as you eat, your growth hormone production is slowed or shut down. By that time, I’m ready to ‘feast’, and so I consume my second through fourth meals in a short period of time which leaves me totally satisfied because I’m consuming at least 75% of my calories around a typical dinner time. That leaves me so full that I have no desire for dessert or a late-night snack.
It is tough to over eat on this diet because you become uncomfortably full when your feeding time is condensed. Whereas if you’re eating every few hours, but only micro-meals, your constantly feeling hungry and unsatisfied.
Once you become used to this diet, it is common to forget about meal planning during the day which frees your mind up to focus on other tasks at hand instead of constantly worrying about where to get your next fix. It is also good for those days where you know you won’t be around good food sources, like you encounter during travel. You’ll also notice that you can start extending your fasting period for full days or even multiple days with little effort, it’s like magic.
There are great resources on intermittent fasting through a simple Google search or blogs such as Mark’s Daily Apple, LeanGains, and Dr. Axe that I encourage you to research. I didn’t cover the science behind this approach but there are facts to back this up. But most important is to give it a shot and see how it works for you. You may be surprised with the results!