The key to fat loss - eat smaller meals more often
Consuming your daily calories over smaller but more frequent meals has been proven to increase the body’s metabolism (the rate of which energy is burnt in the body) when compared with having larger and less frequent meals. Eating smaller regular meals spread over the day is recommended for changing body composition and to keep you functioning at your best. I recommend consuming five meals each day, comprising of breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with two smaller snacks in between as morning and afternoon tea.
Benefits of eating regular meals and snacks
The body has to increase its energy production to process these extra meals This is known as the thermic effect of food. Your body will expend more calories when compared with someone who eats 1 or 2 larger meals per day, or those on a starvation diet.
You will have more energy for more effective training sessions
If you over-indulge and have a big meal your motivation to exercise will be reduced as you’re more likely to ‘blob-out’ afterwards and feel lethargic. Also if you’ve eaten 6 hours ago and go to exercise you’ll never be as alert and at your best energy-wise because your supply of energy has long gone.
Reduces risk of diabetes
Regular snacking and meals increase the effectiveness that insulin plays in transporting glucose (blood sugar) from your blood to your muscles. When you over-eat at any one time (especially from high-sugar foods) the result is a surge in your blood sugar levels. The body senses this extra sugar in the blood and insulin is released to keep your body in a stable state. If you’ve just eaten too much sugar or eaten too much in general then your diabetes risk will increase because only so much insulin can be produced at one time and the insulin cannot effectively transport all the blood sugar to the muscle tissue. Therefore excess sugar remains in the blood as it cannot be controlled, increasing your risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
Reduces sugar cravings and temptations
Eating irregular meals causes you to crave high sugar foods like potato chips, chocolate bars or cans of fizzy drink. When your body is starved your body’s desire to re-fuel with simple sugar foods increases significantly. Simple sugar foods are foods that only supply your body with ‘empty calories’ – a supply of quick-fix calories for energy production. These ‘empty calories’ provide very little nutritional benefit towards a change in body shape and general health as they contain next to no fibre, complex carbohydrate or quality protein (all essential for fat loss).
Promotes muscle building (protein synthesis)
Muscles are either in a muscle-building (anabolic) phase or a muscle-wasting (catabolism) phase. If you starve yourself by not eating regular meals then your body will start to break down muscle tissue as a source of energy. Regardless of whether you want firmer and more muscular arms or legs or you just want to lose weight in general, it’s detrimental to use hard-earned lean muscle as an energy source. Instead you need to keep your lean muscle stores as high as possible, which results in a fast metabolism effective for fat burning. Eating regular meals that supply a constant source of protein to your body will ‘flick the switch’ and keep you in this muscle-building mode.
Increases your rate of recovery after exercise
Carbohydrate helps to re-fuel exhausted muscles whereas protein is essential for muscle repair and growth of lean muscle mass. The 20 minute period after a workout is the optimum time to refuel your body. Ideally a good quality whey protein shake that contains good levels of BCAA's (Branch Chain Amino Acids) is what's recommended to have at this time. However if you exercise before lunch I recommend a chicken or tuna sandwich made with fresh salads on wholegrain bread. Otherwise if it’s in the morning you exercise then a breakfast bowl of wholegrain oats with nuts, seeds and some low fat greek yoghurt would be what I’d suggest. The bottom line; for muscle recovery always aim to consume 25-30g of quality protein post workout.