Thursday, July 18, 2013

Optimal meal frequency for weightloss

A guest post on Robb Wolf's Paleo site discusses the optimal spacing of meals for weight loss and metabolic health:  
Eating 3 meals a day seems to be an effective way to avoid the stressors of undereating or going too long without food while allowing for our fat burning hormones to do their job.  I would encourage these meals to be spaced apart every 5 hours.  This allows for equal time between insulin and glucagon and an equal work to rest ratio for our liver and pancreas.  If hunger persists try eating more at the previous meal, especially protein, or try taking some digestive enzymes with each meal. People who partake in IF rave about its ability to stimulate fat loss, and show some studies to support this.  I personally believe 16 hours between two meals is too long.  You can have the same weight loss effects spacing out dinner from the night before and breakfast 10-12 hours.  This decreases the risk of causing excess stress and allows for substantial time in the fat loss area.
It's worth reading because, while not overly long, it provides a plain-English explanation of the metabolic processes that occur before, during and after a meal.  

If you're looking for more reading material on the subject of intermittent fasting and weight loss, do check out The Fast Diet, which provides a different spin on the subject.  Extremely popular in the UK, the 5:2 approach recommends five days of normal eating a week, interrupted by two non-consecutive days of low calorie intake (500-600 cal):
That’s five days of normal eating, with little thought to calorie control and a slice of pie for pudding if that’s what you want. Then, on the other two days, you just eat a quarter of your recommended daily calorie quota. 
The idea is to capture the benefits of fasting without overly sacrificing the comfort of eating because you're never more than 24 hours away from a full meal.  I haven't read the book, but I have been following the hype around it in the media.  I am interested in the concept, though I firmly believe that sugar control is necessary even on the 5 "normal" days.  I think the slice of pie for pudding might be a poor example.

I would be interested to see what Kevin Cann, the author of the Robb Wolf piece, makes of the 5:2 diet.  With some in the Paleo camp convinced that intermittent fasting is the way to go, and the more traditional establishment serving more regularly-spaced meals, perhaps the 5:2 approach provides an optimal balance along the food frequency spectrum.

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