Saturday, January 23, 2010

When Should I Eat?

Biggest Loser Nutritionist Tip- Meal Skipping Promotes Weight GAIN not loss
by Cheryl Forberg, RD

Contestants arriving at the Biggest Loser Ranch for the first time are often surprised to learn that one of the reasons they’ve gained so much weight is because they've had a habit of skipping meals. It sounds counterintuitive, but skipping meals can actually contribute to weight gain, not loss.

Metabolism journal documented a meal-skipping study at the National Institute on Aging. They found that people who skipped meals during the day and had all of their calories at one nightly meal exhibited unhealthy changes in their metabolism, similar to unhealthy blood sugar levels observed in diabetics. The non-meal skippers on the other hand, consumed the same number of calories each day, but the calories were distributed throughout the day at 3 regular meal intervals. The non meal skippers maintained healthy blood sugar levels.

Another problem with skipping meals is that by the time meal time rolls around, you're so hungry, it’s easy to eat too much and very often choose the wrong things. Who wants to nibble on carrot sticks when you’re starving? Fat has more than twice as many calories as protein and carbohydrate. It satisfies hunger very quickly and often plays a big role in unhealthy meal choices made by meal skippers.

The other problem with skipping meals is that when you wait too long to eat, you lose sight of your body's natural hunger cues. You don’t really know when you’re hungry anymore (and when you’re too full). Here is a sample of a hunger scale from Lisa Sasson MS RD, a clinical professor of Nutrition at NYU.

Hunger Scale

1. Famished /starving (don’t allow yourself to be this hungry; this is what happens when you skip meals
2. Very hungry; can’t think of anything else but eating; maybe cranky; low energy
3. Hungry; stomach feels empty
4. Just starting to think about eating again; maybe a little bit hungry
5. Satisfied; not really thinking about eating; stomach feels fine; alert and good energy level
6. Fully satisfied
7. Had plenty to eat; may take a few more bites because it tastes so good even though you know you probably shouldn’t
8. Very full; probably ate a little too much but it tasted really good
9. Very uncomfortable; bloated; tired; don’t feel great
10. Stuffed (need to loosen your clothing) never allow yourself to be this uncomfortable

It is recommended that you start eating at #3 and stop around #5 or #6. Always stay between #3 and #8.
ASSIGNMENT: If you're not in the habit of eating regular meals throughout the day, try to set up a schedule that works for you.

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