Part 2 – using the concept of nutrient timing to lose weight (see part 1 Nutrient Timing, Nutrient Intake, and Wellness)
If eating a specific nutritional dose before and after a workout constiutes the principle of nutrient timing (NT), and this concept facilitates and optimizes the workouts themselves, then can’t NT be used to help folks lose weight, too? The answer seems to be, Yes; properly timed and constituted meals may indeed help you lose weight, or at least manage it so as to not gain weight/fat. Let’s see how.
I like to promote breakfast to clients who wish to lose weight for the following reasons. First, the National Weight Loss Registry data seems to suggest it really works. There are few studies that ‘prove’ it works but people’s experiences seems to support it. Yes, there are many who get by without eating breakfast but those who sustain weight loss or who seem to be better able at controlling their wieght over time tend to eat something for breakfast. But my reasoning goes beyond the studies to the clients themselves. What I’ve heard these past 28 yrs is that many who skip breakfast find ways to compensate for their bodies’ nutritional deficits by over-eating esp sweets or simple carbs, sometimes fats. So I often use the following to entice interest in adding something for breakfast.
If one’s last meal before bedtime is around 7 or 8, and you wake at 6 or 7, you’ve gone over 10, maybe 12 hours without food. Granted, you didn’t burn many calories sleeping but then I hit them up with this. Assuming you need, generously, merely 80 cals/hr at rest – which is about 1900 cals/day – you’ll have an 800-1000 calorie deficit upon waking. Almost half your daily needs right there. Now, if you don’t eat something, let’s say til noon, you now have another 300 or more calories burned, assuming all you did was sit around doing nothing at all. Your body will be screaming for calories – your brain loves sugar, muscles want it too – and you’ll find ways to fulfill those demands later. Maybe a bigger, more caloric lunch or crappy snacks or a very large dinner plus late night snacking. Furthermore, as many folks do, a mid-morning snack of a hi carb food simply enhances that blood sugar plummet by lunch that escalates crappy food intake then or later.So, I promote a balanced but slightly higher protein breakfast with some fats and carbs to get you going but not too fast. For those who claim time is an issue, meal replacement bars – which actually have added vitamins and minerals – are not all that bad. Remember, it’s about choices, and the choice to skip breakfast or to eat one of these bars clearly places the bar in first position. Get the nutrition, even if manufactured, and then start moving toward healthier foods. Realize, tho, that many people are so engrained in their eating habits that sometimes it’s a matter of living with the next best thing. If you continue avoiding breakfast, tho, you stay in the cycle of excess calorie compensation, a risk for all dieters.
Next, I promote a mid morning snack IF their breakfast is light. If they are active, physically or mentally, then I still support this idea. It could range from a piece of fruit to a yogurt to a sandwich if so inclined. But I always emphasize that, while I’m adding food to the menu, it’s early in the day; later in the day, your body won’t be screaming for calories so you’ll be better able to modulate your habitual intake both at dinner and after. That’s the next ‘timed’ meal promote: after lunch. I’ve found that many professionals, and even stay at home moms whose schedules are crazy, there’s a long gap between lunch and dinner. Many find ways to grab a few calories – but don’t know how many – either of junk food or even the food parents give their kids when they come home after school. These are all calories, and they add up over time. Therefore, I promote grabbing a protein snack – yogurt again is optimal for those who can – a couple of hours before dinner. Thus, dinner has to be lighter than usual. This is difficult but doable if you keep in mind all you’ve eaten beforehand. Clearly the type of foods you eat matter but if you’ve been conscious of your intake earlier in the day – THREE extra meals, so to speak — you might also be able to handle the lighter dinner. If you are a late night snacker, yes, you will have to give that up if you’re serious about weight loss. But all the foods you’ve eaten help defray the attention from food due to satiety. So, now the final timed meal: late nite snack. Fruit is best – filling, sweet, and a complex enough carb that it won’t jack you up and prevent sleep. Other foods, believe it or not, are hot chocolate – using real milk – but this is old fashioned and few take the time to prepare it. Yogurt, again, rocks but by now you’re tired of it. But the food you eat an hour or so before bed sits with you so your brain does not signal ‘hunger’ as you have natural wakenings, or as you rise in the morning. You are now eating on a cycle of 6 meals a day and you don’t have to feel starved to eat; you eat by time.
In conclusion, there is data to support this model, and the BIOMETRICS (TM) diet plans we promote at STEPS abides by this concept, too. It was designed by dieticians so it has scientific validity. Furthermore, a great study from about ten yrs ago gives this model even more credence. Done on middle aged men with hi cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, and body fat, two groups were fed 2500 cals of prepared meals for the 6 or 8 wks of the study. One ate the food in three servings/day, the other in 17 – yes, once/hr about 167 cals per. Guess which group lost weight, fat, cholesterol, triglycerides, lowered their BP and their blood sugar? The more frequent eaters. Why? Because their blood sugar never went too low. Now, 17/d is too hard to do for most folks but 6 is not. Spaced according to plan, you should have an easier time losing, or at least controlling, your weight, for life.