When you should eat to maintain a healthy weight

When you’re trying to be healthy it’s really hard to know what to eat and when. I’m pretty much always hungry, and get remarks at work for the fact that I always have something in my mouth! You can lose weight by just completely restricting what you eat, spaced out 3 times a day and exercising it off. But realistically it’s not a long term solution is it!? It is well known that fad diets and restricting what you eat will only cause you to put the weight back on (even more than you weighed before) after you start eating normally again.

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Through our human evolution, our bodies have been programmed to store food if it experiences long periods of starvation: Starvation mode. When we were hunter gatherers expending lots of energy and not knowing when the next meal was coming in, our bodies needed to store as much energy as possible for the next time there was no catch. So if you miss breakfast, when you eat your lunch your body will think ‘oh my god I must store this asap in case this happens again’.

 

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What it will also do is slow down your metabolism, as your body is trying to save as much energy as possible. So that’s why after doing a fad diet and you start eating normally again, your body is like ‘must store this in case we starve again’ storing carbs and fat = putting on weight.  It will also mean that you are less tired during the day as your blood sugar levels will not increase and decrease at sharp peaks throughout the day.

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If you leave it too long to eat, it will only cause you to feel tired and irritable as your blood sugar level will be low. When this happens your body releases the hormone cortisol to try and get your blood sugar level back to normal. A way that it does this is by converting muscle protein to sugar, which as you can imagine is not good for muscle tone. Another important point is if you eat the right thing at the right time you won’t feel sluggish. Refined carbohydrates raise your blood sugar really high giving you a burst of energy only to cause it to crash. This is why you feel tired after a bowl of pasta. Eat wholemeal (slow-releasing sugar) carbohydrates throughout the day and this will keep your energy levels constant = no sleeping at work!

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Eating a little often can help you lose weight if you combine it with a regular exercise routine. Weight loss and especially muscle tone comes with a nutritious diet and exercise. No secret there. If you want to lose weight, just make sure that your calorie intake is less than 2000 calories a day (it depends how much weight you want to lose). Obviously you want to be eating the right kinds of food. No refined sugar or fat. Include wholemeal carbs, healthy fats and protein. Don’t cut carbs out completely, especially if you have an exercise routine. Depending on if you want to lose weight or not, just reduce the amount you eat e.g. just eat carbs for breakfast and lunch time…or one or the other. I will be writing another post with healthy meal and snack options.

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Food Itinerary

These are the times when I try and eat during the day, I normally try and include healthy fats, slow release carbs and protein in each meal:

 

8am Breakfast: Try and eat within an hour of waking up. As your body has been fasting for a while, when you eat it will kick start your metabolism and make your body work harder. Try and include healthy fats, protein and slow-releasing carbs. Eating healthy fat will send your body the green light to burn fat as it’s coming in. Scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast is a good choice here.

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10am Mid-morning snack: Try and eat 2 hours after eating breakfast. Again this can be a mix of healthy fats, slow-releasing carbs and some protein. A good option here are nuts (only a handful!) with some fruit.

 

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12pm Lunch: Healthy fats, protein and slow release carbs again! I will normally eat a salmon fillet which has the protein and healthy fats in one, with a side of ‘Nutty Salad’ or ‘Rainbow Salad’ from Marks and Spencers. But if I have the nutty salad I will make sure I don’t have nuts as a snack.

 

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3pm Mid-Afternoon snack: I’ll eat 0% fat Greek yogurt with some banana and flaxseed mix which has omega-3 fatty acids.

 

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6.30pm After exercise: I’ll have a protein shake to replenish my muscles after a workout. This is what your body needs because in liquid form it will absorb quickly to help muscle growth after exercise. Always eat something within 45 mins of exercise, this should be low in fat and high in carbohydrates. This is because your body is still burning energy after you’ve finished exercising and it will make sure you avoid muscle wasting.

 

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7.30pm Dinner: You can choose to have carbs here if you want, if you are trying to lose weight I would cut it out at this point. A chicken stir fry is a great option.

 

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Hope this gives you some useful tips for fat burning and not being hungry…you don’t need to starve yourself to lose weight!

 

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