4-6 Meals per Day:
There is a much publicized idea regarding frequent eating plans. Meals scheduled every three to four hours are meant to help maintain body weight, keep hunger at bay, and balance blood sugar levels which affect hormones, such as insulin. Success for the frequent feeder is less than stellar and many times I have seen it back fire and cause weight gain. If you are not a star athlete with a below average lean body mass frequent feeding is not your friend.
Eating patterns are about more than macro-nutrient intake and nutrient ratios. Protein needs per kilogram of body weight and carbohydrate to fat ratios have taken on a bit of diet folklore. Nutrition intake affects many bodily functions and patterning of meals affects the system as a whole. Eating frequently or sparsely impacts everything from nerve conductivity, concentration, digestion, skin health, immunity and of course body weight.
INSULIN levels of the frequent feeder:
Insulin, the pancreas hormone that helps to shunt nutrient into cells, is meant to fluctuate within an optimal threshold. When it is at the high end of normal you don’t feel hungry. Your body also becomes accustom to high-normal insulin levels. The insulin needs to dip before your brain would get the message that fuel is needed. Keeping insulin in tight high-normal range sounds like a good plan to manage weight as it appears to curb appetite. But this ignores the body’s mechanism used to burn stored fat. Hormones do not like to compete with one another. So the hormones that up-regulate your fat burning cannot get a foot hold if insulin levels are always high-normal. Insulin is guarding cell content and wants protein, fat and glycogen (stored carbohydrate) reserves to stay where they are. So even if you do an arduous cardio workout, sweat profusely, and reeve your adrenaline, and growth hormone in response to the exercise, eating post-workout, to keep to your frequent eating plan, will spike insulin back to high-normal and all fat burning will STOP. Insulin, out- competes growth hormone and Insulin like growth hormone and testosterone secreted from your hard work out. These muscle building hormones will find it hard to do their job or repairing and building lean tissue when insulin is cruising around the blood stream.
Eating less frequent the insulin levels dip below your low threshold and you will feel hungry. This less frequent more traditional pattern of eating regulates insulin at a low-normal range. Hunger is your body’s way of telling you that all the hormones, enzymes and digestive processes are ready for fuel again. If you don’t feel hunger chances are that you are filling a digestive track with bulk that it just is not prepared to handle. It is like filling the gas tank of an already topped up vehicle. We should not be afraid of feeling hungry. It is a normal biological function and does not imply that you will gorge yourself to arrest the sensation. Enjoy the feeling of gentle hunger, it means that your meal will be digested thoroughly, assimilation of nutrients will be optimal, and your competing hormones will have a chance to increase contributing to muscle repair. During the fasting hours between meals without interrupting snacks fat stores will be for fuel from fat cells because insulin is penned up.
You’re not a baby experiencing exponential growth. You do not need to snack and refuel every time you think about food. You are not growing and repairing like an active child engaged in random play. You are not that frenetic. Eat less often, assimilate more nutrients, regulate insulin to the low-normal range and get on with your day, eating three times only, just like Grandma did.