CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dear Cindy,
My husband just started with a personal trainer and was told he should be eating more than three meals a day. My husband needs to lose about 40 pounds, and he wants me to help him with this. I love to cook, but with a full-time job, I don't think I can I send more meals with him to work. I do pack him lunch some days but mostly he eats out for lunch. Can you explain how we are supposed to do this with our busy schedules? I need to lose weight too, but feel like I would gain weight if I ate this much. Thanks for your help. -- Margie
I am so happy you wrote. We need to clarify the information your husband brought home from his personal trainer. Yes, your husband was probably advised to eat more often; however, this nutrition tip should not be confused with eating more!
Sure, eating more to lose weight is everyone's dream, but we all realize that to have weight loss, we must eat fewer calories than we burn each day. Your husband's personal trainer sees his role as much as an educator as a fitness coach. Nutritionally, within his scope of expertise, the trainer must help your husband understand how to control his appetite and his cravings. This will not only facilitate weight loss, but also will assist in maintaining healthy blood glucose and insulin levels.
The timing and frequency of meals are significant considerations when attempting to lose weight healthfully. Eating small, nutrient-dense meals every two to three hours throughout the day helps to effectively control an appetite. When we can successfully keep cravings down and energy levels up, we are on our way to achieving our goals.
Approaching from different angles
When we turn our attentions toward health, we think in terms of physical activity and eating better. The exercise part can be fairly straightforward. We should challenge our muscles, heart and lungs by moving more and pushing further every day. The diet part, however, can be much trickier.
Problem one is tradition. We've been taught that we should eat three square meals a day -- breakfast, lunch and dinner. So, the concept of eating five to six times a day seems counterintuitive to weight loss.
Problem two is the idea that skipping breakfast can shave some calories. (Cue buzzer sound for wrong answer.) Actually, this practice can sabotage your good intentions. Those who skip breakfast usually eat too much late in the day, which can pack on the pounds.
If that's not enough to make you eat breakfast, consider these other two problems: cortisol production and muscle wasting. That's right: Skip breakfast and your body will serve you up the stress hormone cortisol, while it has no other choice but to satisfy its hunger by devouring your lean muscle. No one should start a day out like this.
Studies show skipping breakfast results in higher fasting LDL cholesterol levels and decreased insulin sensitivity. Those who opt out of breakfast also usually eat more calories by the end of the day (Farshchi, Taylor and Macdonald 2005).