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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Fewer, larger meals may be more satisfying and good for you too.






Today's post is about the benefits of eating less frequently (aka intermittent fasting), especially for smaller people such as myself.

As you might remember, I'm currently "cutting", or reducing my calorie intake to shed the last few pounds to get the abs showing through again. Given that I'm only 125 lb, my calorie intake when dieting is going to be roughly 10 - 12 times that figure, or 1250 - 1500 calories. In practice, I've found I need to go to the lower end of this even with a decent amount of exercise. At the moment, I'm losing about 1 lb per week at an average daily calorie intake of 1300. I do about four hours of exercise per week (two heavy weights sessions and two moderately strenuous yoga sessions). Remember also from previous posts that the absolute number of calories doesn't matter - it's more important to keep adjusting them depending on what the scales tell you on a weekly basis.

At such a low calorie intake, I'm finding it much easier in terms of hunger-management and actually getting satisfaction from meals to squeeze them into a smaller window of time. I had (years ago now) tried the "little and often" style of eating, but found it annoying to prepare small meals / grab snacks; was constantly hungry / never satisfied from a meal; frustrated by the micro-management and interruption of social events. Now that I'm only eating in the evening, between about 7pm and 11pm, I can get reasonably full from only 1300 calories and relax more about what I'm eating if I'm going out to the cinema / pub / restaurant with friends because I'd be getting all my calories in this window anyway.

It's also seriously helpful for my lifestyle (frequent overseas travel), meaning that I can be productive all day (drinking plenty of coffee and water) and then relax in the evening with a healthy meal from the hotel or restaurant. I don't need to worry about grabbing questionable food from the airport / train station / cafeteria and I can concentrate on what truly is important when it comes to diet / body recomposition - what you eat, not when or how often you eat.

So, if you're having trouble with hunger / not being satisfied from meals when you're losing weight, remember or try the following:

  • Eat fewer, larger meals.
  • Make sure the food is nutrient dense and low in calories - think fish and green vegetables and avoid simple carbohydrates like bread, pasta and especially sugar!
  • Remember that the body is relatively slow to adapt - it can take weeks to adjust to a new way of eating or see a significant change in fat / muscle composition.
  • Drink plenty of water and hot drinks when you're not eating. (Make sure the hot drinks don't have any calories in them - think black coffee and green tea with no milk or sugar!).