Welcome to your first Nutrition Challenge! I’m Lindsey, the nutritionist at IdealShape, and in this series I’ll be giving you 12 slimming nutrition habits that set you free from grueling fitness routines and restrictive diets.
You’ll discover simple nutrition habits that you can integrate into your daily life, one week at a time. Each nutrition challenge builds on the previous one, so think about it like a “snowball.” Each week you’ll feel healthier, more confident and it’ll just keep getting easier.
So enjoy, implement the habits one week at a time, and get ready to have a completely different nutrition outlook – and body – in 12 weeks!
Conquer Your Cravings with 5 Meals a Day
To kick off Week #1, we need to talk about the benefits of eating five meals a day. While it may seem strange, increasing your meal frequency is actually fundamental to fat loss.
Why? Because eating more often helps you control hunger and cravings.
Have you ever come home starving after a hectic day, only to find that within minutes your healthy eating plan has completely vanished — and you’re elbow-deep in a bag of chips?
If so, you’re not a terrible person. In fact, you practically had no choice.
Researchers from Yale and University of Southern California discovered that when we’re hungry, we’re more likely to want fatty, salty and sugary foods. To make matters worse, the part of the brain that governs self-control becomes less active.
When we DO finally eat after a long meal gap, we also tend to overestimate how much food we need to fill the void in our stomachs. Cravings activated + willpower deactivated + huge plate of food = disaster.
You can see how extreme hunger is your worst enemy in weight loss, opening the door to eating too much of all the wrong foods. So this week I’m going to show you how to conquer it!
Your Challenge for This Week
Begin dividing your food into five small, healthy meals a day. That’s a meal roughly every 3 hours. Here’s the clincher: it’s important NOT to eat between meals. Nibbles are tempting, but we need to give our bodies a chance to digest the food and burn the energy at regular intervals. Think: “eat, stop eating for three hours, eat again.”
Don’t worry too much about WHAT to eat in those five meals, we’ll cover that soon! For now, just focus on making one change at a time (like we explain in Diet Chaos, it’s important to avoid getting overwhelmed). As for WHEN to eat, we recommend that you eat a small meal at regular breakfast, lunch and dinner times, and then incorporate two “snack” type meals like fruit or an IdealBar in between.
Track Your Results
Nutrition scientists agree that as long as we don’t consume more energy (food) than we expend, dividing our energy intake into more meals is ideal. Beyond hunger management, research shows that it leads to reduced insulin secretion, less insulin resistance and improved blood glucose control — all beneficial to weight management and metabolism!
See if eating five meals a day helps you…
- Naturally decrease your calorie intake, by staying in control of what and how much you eat. Have your cravings subsided? If you decide to have a cupcake, do you have one instead of three?
- Feel good about yourself. Like those neuroscientists found, staying satiated can keep our self-regulation activated. Does one positive accomplishment help reinforce another?
- Plan your meals. Does increasing your meal frequency put you in a position to think ahead? Are you more likely to keep healthy snacks on hand?
- Keep glucose and energy levels stable. Eating healthy foods more often should stabilize your blood sugar levels and help you avoid the spikes that come from huge, carb-heavy meals and sugary snacks. Have your mood and mental clarity improved?
When you have completed this challenge, post in the comments or over on the Facebook page and tell us how you did!
P.S. Nutrition is only part of the puzzle. Sign up for the full challenge and get short, ultra-effective workouts delivered straight to your email each week! You can even enter the contest for a chance to win a free trip!