The When and What of Eating

Eat three meals a day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eat once a day. Eat ten times a day. Be sure to have a hearty dinner. Don’t eat after dusk. What are they telling us?

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All of this information is coming from two things: basal metabolic rate (BMR) and metabolism. A quick explanation is BMR is the energy we need from food to go about our lives and metabolism is the breakdown and synthesis of food to be used as energy.

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The trick to all of this is finding the right balance between how much to eat and when to eat it.  Most metabolisms and your BMR begin to slow after 4 – 5 hours of not eating, which means after sleeping for 7 – 8 hours, you need to eat your morning meal. Most people hit the ground running, kids, traffic, jobs, home life, gym, to-do list, etc. This means your BMR is cranking, but if you don’t feed it the energy it needs for all this movement, it will start hoarding your energy and you will feel sluggish and tired. Your metabolism has also stopped burning fat because it’s storing up the energy for the fuel shortage.

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This doesn’t mean you have a four-course meal 5 – 6 times a day! You must work the amount of food into your personal BMR.  Calories are simple.  What you put in, you must put out.  The first step is figuring out how many calories you need just for your body to survive without movement.  For example, the average woman needs 1,200 calories a day. Then you allot extra calories for gym time, training and activity levels. If you give yourself too many calories, those are stored in the body, i.e. fat.

Eating throughout the day not only stabilizes your fat burning, energy machine, it also balances hormones, sugar levels and prevents binging. Just being practical, eating five to six times a day keeps you from ever feeling hunger and possibly overeating.  It also prevents you from getting that lethargic crash from a heavy meal. You may choose to eat 6 – 200 calorie meals or 3 – 300 calorie meals and 3 – 100 calorie snacks or any other possible combination. The idea is to determine the average amount of calories you need and then distribute them based on energy output throughout your day.

Planning smaller meals is the answer to balanced nutrition and a great way to start living a healthier lifestyle.

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