Oxymoron: You Might Not be Eating Often Enough to Lose Weight

While eating three square meals was once the norm and snacks were considered a culprit for American’s expanding waistlines, research now shows that eating small, frequent meals is the way to go.

Eating often has been shown to help control appetite, boost mood and concentration, and maintain muscle mass. So how often should you eat to reap the benefits? Aim to eat every three hours for a steady supply of energy throughout the day. Learn more about the benefits of eating often below.

Blood Sugar and Appetite Control

When blood sugar levels dip, cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) rises. This can lead to cravings, increased belly fat, hormonal imbalance, and decreased immunity. This increase and decrease can also affect your relationship with food. After a large meal, your brain releases chemicals that increase feelings of euphoria and sometimes sleepiness. Over time, your body sees food as a reward, making it more likely that you’ll reach for food (even if you aren’t hungry) when you feel stressed.

Concentration and Mood

Eating small, frequent meals throughout the day can improve your concentration and mood. Food provides glucose, which your body needs to stay focused and calm. If you wait too long to eat and then gorge yourself later, it can wreak havoc on brain function. When you wait too long to eat, your blood sugar levels fall, which causes irritability and agitation. When you eat a big meal later to make up for a missed meal, blood is diverted from your brain to your gut to aid in digestion. This can leave you feeling sleepy, foggy, and unfocused.

Increased Metabolism

When you don’t eat often enough, your metabolism slows and works to conserve energy instead of burning it. Frequent eating is like constantly throwing wood on the fire. When you eat, your body has to burn fuel to convert it into usable energy. This process, known as the thermic effect, boosts your metabolism and increases calorie burn. For more information, read “How to Boost Your Metabolism.”

Maintain Muscle Mass

If you don’t eat often, the most readily available substance for the body to consume is muscle. The human body is remarkably resistant to fat loss. When it needs fuel, it will turn to its lean muscle before burning fat. This process is known as catabolism. By eating frequent meals and snacks, you can help preserve your muscle mass…

Read more: Core Performance


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