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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Best Diet Ever: Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals


photo by hawaii

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Every time I mention this as a tip, people think I'm some sort of food "nut job". Apparently eating meals more frequently qualifies me for some kind of 12-step program. The rumors are NOT true. I DO NOT set an alarm to remind me to eat every 3 hours. *But I have thought about it.*

Eating six small meals, spaced out every 3 hours is a better way to eat for maintaining or losing weight. Here are some benefits of eating this way:

  • By eating more often you don't get as hungry, so when you do have a meal, you are less likely to overeat.
  • It is also much easier to eat fewer calories for the same reason; when you sit down to eat you are not as hungry.
  • Your body uses energy to digest food and more meals per day means a few more calories required to process those meals.
  • "Dieters" traditionally eat very little during the day, and end up gorging at night. By consuming calories throughout the day, your metabolism remains stable and you minimize cravings.
This is one of the tougher tips to actually implement because it requires a bit of planning. You will need to bring enough healthy food to eat throughout the day. The strategy that I use is to cook enough food for dinner that I have enough to freeze for a few days. I package the leftovers in small 1-cup sized reusable containers and freeze them. Each day I bring 3 of the containers and some fruit, maybe some yogurt, or cottage cheese. A "meal" typically consists of frozen leftovers and a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts, or a yogurt.

Lean Cuisines are a good pre-packaged option, but they are very low in calories. I know people who bring a Lean Cuisine for lunch and don't eat anything else throughout the day. If that's you, you need to eat more. You can't expect to eat 250 calories during the day and not be starving by the time you get home. Bring 2 or 3 to work and eat them throughout the day.

Now, I always like to use the word "meals", as opposed to 3 meals and 3 snacks. If I say you should have 3 snacks between meals, most people visualize junk from a vending machine. Again those six meals should consist of "real food", not junk food.

Of the Best Diet Ever tips, I think that this tip is the most effective. Monitoring when and how often you eat is essential to controlling your eating. If you don't allow yourself to get hungry, you simply won't eat as much.

Have you ever tried eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day? How did that work for you?

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Kristen said...

Scott..thanks for the info about the PB on my blog. I'll definitely keep an eye out for it. I don't usually track my calories, but I did for yesterday and I'm coming up short by about 200 calories, so I need to bump things up a bit. So maybe the PB wouldn't be so bad :)
Have a great day!

Fit Club Scott said...

It's good stuff. I won't eat any other kind of peanut butter.

For anyone interested in what the heck I'm talking about, there is a product called Naturally More out there. It's peanut butter that has added protein, less fat, fewer calories and flax seed oil added.

It's not a huge calorie savings but it has a much better nutritional profile. You can get it at the usual health food stores, but in Albuquerque, Wal-Mart stocks it and it's about half of what it cost at Whole Foods.