This week I am answering some of those questions that we had from those following us…and all of those stem around the topic of metabolism and food.
Today’s Q&A is here…
Q. Does eating 6 small meals work and if so…what do I eat?
A. That is like a big, loaded question actually.
First…I have to say that I only know what has worked (and not worked) for me. I’m not a dietician…just someone who used to be in that severely obese category that is now really close to being at my ideal weight. Since we all seem to respond to things differently and have tastes that may not work for everyone…I will give you what I know. Keep in mind though that you may have to tweek this so it works for you. If anything…keep trying…stick with what you are doing for a month or so and take measurements of yourself. Don’t use the scale to base if the changes you are making in food is actually working for you. Why am I saying don’t use the scale? You can read why here.
I do eat mini-meals throughout the day. I don’t really do it intentionally but eat basically when my body let’s me know that I am hungry. I have found that if I wait too long to eat I start to have some issues with blood sugar messing me up to the point where I have to eat…NOW! (or my stomach growls so loud I disrupt a meeting or something I am part of) I don’t like waiting that long cause that feeling is just not fun so I just eat when I am needing to eat.
Here is an example of how I eat…and again, this is just how I do it based on what I do at the gym and what I know I need for myself throughout the day. (When I lift heavy stuff I am hungry all day long!…because my body is burning calories all day long from lifting…that’s why EVERY WOMAN SHOULD LIFT WEIGHTS 😉 Ok…enough of my PSA for strength training.) I don’t eat perfectly and I don’t follow any specific eating plan at the moment. I don’t count calories, carbs…nothing. I have done all those things, I have done weightloss programs and some included specific foods to eat that I paid for. Those were gross and nasty and I usually was always hungry and really couldn’t exercise like I wanted because I just didn’t have the energy. My body wasn’t getting the fuel it needed and so cutting calories was actually hurting me rather than helping me. My last post I wrote about how my metabolism basically stopped and it was a result of basically starving myself because my calories were too low. I gained weight because my body was storing the fat for later rather than burning it off.
Today, I just eat but I try to eat with intention and pair foods together that help my body.
What I Eat:
Days I workout in the morning…
- I don’t eat before I go to the gym. I do drink some coffee and drink at least 24 to 48 ounces of water (sometimes more) while I am at the gym and on my way home. If this is a boxing workout morning I will usually eat some unsalted almonds and once in awhile an apple or banana to go with it. I don’t like to eat usually before my workouts because it is easier for me and my stomach to wait until after the workout. Boxing is a 2 hour workout though from 9 to 11 and that is a long time to go without something in me so I grab that before I go.
- Post workout meal: I try to have a carb, protein and fruit/veggie. I either make a smoothie that is full of great stuff or make some eggs and pair it with a fruit or veggie. Sometimes I just throw in some peppers and onions with the eggs, other times I just eat a banana or apple or whatever veggie is leftover from the night before in the fridge. I try to have any bigger carbs after my workout too rather than later in the day. If I want bread or a grain…this is when I would eat it.
- The rest of the day I usually eat a protein and fruit or veggie combo at least 4 to 5 more times. These aren’t huge meals but enough where I’m not hungry anymore. Here are a few examples: string cheese & raspberries, apple slices & natural peanut butter, almonds and dried fruit, baked chicken & broccoli. Sometimes I just brown some hamburger and grab a few tomatoes and eat that.
Days I workout at night…
- This is rare for me actually and is usually only the nights that I teach cycling class. I am still adjusting to this because my body was not happy with me the first time I taught at night and I thought I was going to pass out. My body didn’t have the fuel that it needed that specific night and I realized that I needed to eat a lot more food than I was in order to work hard at night and drink a lot more water.
- I still eat all day long pretty much but eat a bit bigger meal at about 3:00pm (my class is at 6:30pm). I make sure that this meal has a good type of fat in it as well as protein and some carbs. Last week I ate some chili that I made and I felt good through the entire 1 hour class. When I was done with class I ate a bowl of tomatoes, some almonds and a apple.
Meals with the Family: Just because I eat a certain way doesn’t mean that my family doesn’t get great meals. I do follow very similar guidelines in the food that I make for them and it is just the norm in our house. We always have a protein, there is a healthy grain and some sort of combination of fruits and veggies so we get at least 2 of that category. One of my favorite recipes to make (and EASY!) is this baked chicken recipe. Instead of mayo I use greek yogurt. So Yummy! You can find the full recipe at http://theenchantedcook.blogspot.com/2011/10/parmesan-crusted-chicken-hellmanns-mayo.html
Here is some other food related info about me: I am lactose intolerant and haven’t had a glass of milk in about 11 years and there are some foods that make me sick pretty fast. I am a self-professed food addict too so I watch what foods are actually in our house. If there is something unhealthy here…I will eat it. There is zero willpower with this body when it comes to food. To help with that food addiction…I watch my carbs. I try to eat mostly the good ones and I limit the bad ones. Carbs stick to my butt, stomach and thighs and don’t ever want to leave. I have had to learn to like the healthy foods though and it is still a learning process but I can now eat most veggies and salads without wanting to gag. 🙂 I eat sugar (these are the bad carbs…you know that right?!) but don’t go crazy with it. I recently cut out pop (Diet Pepsi addict right here!) and don’t have it in my house. If I had it here…I would drink 4 to 6 cans a day…no problem. I still let myself drink it once in awhile but I know it’s not good for me.
I also let myself eat what I want if I want it. My tastebuds have completely changed and because of that I can actually taste the sugar in things now and that has helped limit the amounts of food I eat. Example…a few months ago I had a small piece of Baker’s Square French Silk Pie. I used to gobble these up about once a week and I would basically inhale this huge amount of dessert. As I tasted it a few weeks ago I was amazed at the taste and the richness of the chocolate and I really only wanted to eat a few bites. I couldn’t believe that I had never tasted it that way before.
What else have I done? I switched our plate sizes. It sounds simple but also leads me to not eat as much since I can’t put as much food on my plate.
Do eating small meals work? It has for me. As people are thinking of increasing their meals to 6 or so a day you also need to watch portion sizes and pick healthy items to eat. So many of the quick foods that we grab and go are high in sugar and other things I can’t pronounce. Those foods are just bad choices if you really are wanting to help your body.
What I suggest doing…Listen to your body. Exercise. Drink water. Eat when you are hungry. Pick real foods to satisfy that hunger. If you do those things you may find that you just start to eat smaller meals at more frequent intervals anyways and you won’t even realize that you are doing it.
What is your favorite protein and fruit/veggie combo?
Thanks for joining us at The Journey! You can read more about Jessica’s story of weight loss and her journey right here.