07 Aug Is When You Eat The Key To Weight Loss?
It’s not just what you eat. It’s also highly likely that it’s when.
There are a few scientific global studies and researchers say more are needed, but so far, results show that eating irregularly – skipping meals and gorging at random times, for example, is linked to a higher risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Furthermore, they show that late night eaters lose less weight when on a calorie-controlled diet than those who consume most of their calories at breakfast.
Researchers say that eating inconsistently may affect our internal body clock or ‘circadian rhythm’, which typically follows a 24-hour cycle. Metabolic processes follow a circadian pattern. These include appetite, digestion and the metabolism of fat, cholesterol and glucose.
But as we all live different lives, it’s not so easy for all of us to stick to the same timings, so working out what works best for you is the place to start.
Do you work late and get up late? Do you wake early, exercise and then go to work? Is your job sedentary and yet you have trouble falling asleep? Do you go to bed early and wake early? What time of day do you crave sugar, salt or fat? When do you have the most time for a main meal?
And so on.
“You can think of when you eat from two different angles,” says Flex Pilates trainer Megan Farrugia.
“If you work during the day and sleep regular hours at night and are moderately active each day, then the ideal formula is the traditional concept – breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.
“In this scenario, you want to set yourself up to get more energy long-term throughout the day. That means foods that don’t break down into sugar instantly.
“Adjust your timings to suit when long-term energy is needed. Is it the morning or the afternoon? If it’s the morning, then there’s your ‘breakfast like a king’ scenario. If it’s the evening, then maybe lunch is your bigger ‘main’ meal.”
Why does this work?
“Because eating the right way at the right time moderates the metabolism, so once you’ve eaten, your body doesn’t go into hyper-drive and come crashing down almost immediately,” Meg adds.
“If you wake up to go to work at a desk job throughout the day, and have eaten two pastries and two coffees for breakfast, you’ll have enough energy for one hour and then come crashing down.”
Yet if you work late at night, a heavier lunch and a medium-sized dinner would provide more energy to see you through. ‘Breakfast’ would therefore be lighter, as it would be closer to the time you sleep. This allows your body to rejuvenate instead of working hard to digest while resting.
So to reach your goals, set a routine that works for you – and stick to it.
Here, Meg sets out the foods to eat (and at what time) for those with daytime waking and working hours:
- Wholegrain brown toast with avocado.
- Quinoa and a cup of green tea.
- Homemade tomato soup and brown rice.
- Poached/boiled egg with wholegrain brown toast.
“With this, your body is working harder to break down the fibre, which helps with building muscle and with recovery after activity. And this, in turn, helps your body digest more effectively.”
- Nuts – almonds in particular.
- A grain with a quarter of avocado.
- Greek yoghurt (unsweetened. Sprinkle some cinnamon)
- Green tea
- Low carb – brown rice, quinoa.
- Banana, apple, mango – all slow-burning carbs, so they will keep you fuller for longer.
- Dark chocolate (a couple of small squares).
- Fresh homemade lime soda (just a few squeezes of lime in water).
Dinner (several hours before you plan to go to sleep):
- Protein – fish, lean meat, chicken.
- Piece of fruit.
- Handful of pumpkin/sunflower seeds.
Dos and Don’ts:
If you have a sedentary job and go home in the evening to relax, don’t then eat a carb-heavy dinner, with extras such as cheese sauces.
“Your body will spend so much time digesting it that you won’t be able to get into a deep sleep,” Meg says. “Your body is being given a big job to break all that when you’re lying down.
“A lighter evening meal with a lean protein will give your body time to rejuvenate while you sleep.”
For the majority of people, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon is best if you want fall asleep more easily.
Over a hot and wet summer, incorporate traditional ‘cooling’ foods on the digestive system – citrus fruits, miso soup, ginger, garlic and green tea.
“If you do snack, opt for fresh versus dried fruits to avoid hidden sugars and salts.”
Need to kickstart to a healthier way of eating and exercising? Flex is hosting a unique yoga retreat to the stunning Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia from September 15-21. Click here for more information. https://flexhk.com/retreats/
Meg Farrugia is a Pilates, TRX and High Interval Intensity instructor at both Central and One Island South. She is also available for private instruction.
Meg is a big proponent of utilizing different activities that help promote sleep, increase metabolism and build strength and stamina. In September, she is offering a Pilates workshop specifically for sports people.
For more information on Megan’s schedule, contact [email protected]