Who said that eating 3 meals a day was the right way to eat? This custom was created by the conventions of our society, not by the natural demands of our bodies. Nature dictates that when our bodies need food, we feel hunger. But by forcing ourselves to wait to eat, we tend to consume more calories in those three meals a day than we would if we ate 5 smaller meals.
When we eat our full recommended daily calories in just three meals a day, we are loading up for the long haul, and we’ll tire out quicker than if we were to spread out our calorie intake throughout the day. Think of is this way, calories are our bodies fuel, but when we have to travel long distances without a steady supply of fuel, we’ll always be thinking about how much further we can go before we hit empty, and before you know it, you’re ravenous and you’ve eaten everything in sight.
When you spread your calorie intake into five smaller meals a day, you create a steady stream of energy that can keep you going without that drag you feel in between meals. It can increase your metabolism and help you burn more calories throughout your day keeping your energy levels at a constant, instead of irregular highs and lows. This is because it regulates and stabilizes your blood sugar and insulin levels. When your blood sugar levels spike, this can signal your body that it’s time to start storing fat and can cause your energy levels to basically crash leaving you tired and ineffective during your day.
Switching to five meals a day can even help you lose weight because it can curb your cravings by keeping you full and not thinking about your next meal. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to switch from three meals a day to five meals a day.
Planning is essential to your success. It’s not just about eating five meals a day, it’s about eating the right meals. If you don’t plan ahead, you’re liable to select junk food that really provides empty calories and no real energy benefit. If you’re at work, keep a couple of emergency options in your desk in case you forget to plan appropriately. Some ideas for food options include mixed nuts, fruits like an apple or a banana, a half a sandwich, or some cut up vegetables like carrots.
Go slowly. Don’t expect to just jump from three meals to five meals. Start off slow and gradually increase the meals you eat. Start with eating four meals a day and do this until it has become a routine. Then, transition to five meals a day. Remember, you’re not eating more food. You are simply decreasing the amount of food you eat at each meal and increasing the times of day you eat.
Learn portion control. This is key to successfully making this transition without gaining weight. When you switch to five meals a day, you have to remember that you can’t eat the same big dinner or lunch that you used to when you ate three meals a day. Smaller portions spread out throughout the day are what you need to focus on. A general rule you can follow is to keep your portions about the size of your fist.
Split your meals. An easy way to transition yourself to five meals a day is to split your current meals. If you usually have oatmeal and a banana for breakfast, eat the oatmeal and save the banana for a couple hours later. If you have a sub for lunch, split the sub in half and eat half for lunch and half a couple hours later. Get the idea?
Remember to eat breakfast. A lot of people tend to skip this very important meal of the day. However, you need to remember that your body has just gone without food for more than eight hours, and now you’re asking it to get moving on your day. Do yourself and your body a favor and stop and fuel up before you start your day. Try to eat within an hour of getting up. This will tell your body it’s time to crank up your energy levels and help you have a much better morning.
Don’t wait too long to eat. This is a huge contributor to gaining weight. When we pass the point of no return, it doesn’t matter what we eat, as long as we get it in our stomachs and get it in fast. Set yourself to a schedule and eat before you are starving. If you know you are going to be out for a long period of time, pack yourself a snack. This way you have something to hold you over and you won’t be tempted to stop at the closest fast food restaurant.
If you go out to eat, get a doggie bag. Just because you are eating five meals a day does not mean you have to avoid going out to eat. With just a little extra planning and some self control, you can enjoy your favorite places. If you can, check the menu ahead of time. Most restaurants have their menus online for you to view. Pick out something to eat when you are not hungry. This way you can make sure you select something healthy. When you get to the restaurant, leave the menu on the table. Don’t be tempted to look at it. You already know what you want. If you start perusing the menu, you might be tempted to change your mind and opt for something that is far from healthy. Also, don’t eat the whole meal. This part might be hard, so it may help you to visually divide the meal on your plate, or ask for a box before you start eating so you can set aside a portion for later.
Ultimately, eating five meals a day instead of three can help you increase your metabolism and even help you lose weight. However, it takes self control and commitment to succeed with this meal plan. Make sure you plan ahead and gradually make this transition.
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