Before I dive into this article, I want to reiterate the importance of food and eating when you are looking to burn fat, the healthy and smart way. When you eat less or starve yourself in a bid to lose weight, your body adapts by becoming amazingly good at making the most of whatever food it receives. It holds on tightly to stored fat and begins breaking down muscles to get needed energy.
This loss of muscle mass slows down your metabolism and makes it difficult to lose weight (because, the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn naturally even when you are not active.) Also, when you restrict food intake, you become irritable, uncomfortable and stressed-up. This kind of stress can cause a rise in cortisol and increase the rate at which you store visceral fat.
I’m sure you are familiar with our regular eating pattern. You are expected to eat 3 times a day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Now, I’m asking that you eat more times because, when you eat more times, it gives your body the opportunity to absorb nutrients more efficiently.
If you are used to eating at regular intervals, you must have noticed that you always get hungry at about the same time of the day, irrespective of whether the previous meal was light or heavy. What happens is that the body is sensitive to routines, and also, it can only handle as much food at one sitting and eliminate or store the excess nutrients.
And according to nutritional experts, when you eat the same amount of calories and spread them (in smaller, manageable portions for the body) throughout the day, it raises the body’s ability to digest, absorb, and dispose of the ingested nutrients. This process of making the body get used to smaller, manageable portions can result in having as much as 10% more calories being burned.
These facts are backed by practical case studies where people who eat 6 times daily show considerably lower levels of low-density-lipoprotein (LDL or bad cholesterol that blocks the arteries) as opposed to people that eat 3 times.
Additionally, people that eat more than 3 times (in small portions) have more stable carbohydrate and fat oxidization levels and thus, less prone to getting fat. Even Hollywood actress Jennifer Aniston (at 47 and looking much younger) attributes her slim body figure to eating small portions regularly during the day, rather than larger meals at traditional times. She says she survives on five meals a day.
Another benefit of this eating pattern is that it prevents long stretches of starvation. What most people do (due to being busy or just wanting to “lose weight”) is that they take breakfast and eat nothing until dinner. At dinner, they unconsciously eat more to make up for the time that they went without food. This is a bad eating habit that only makes the metabolism to under-function (and slow down the fat burning process.)
The key to eating 6 times a day
When we recommend eating 6 times in a day, you want to make sure you continue to give your body “small, manageable portions of nutrients.” The key is to eat 6 small meals, instead of 3 large ones. What I used to do when I started applying this formula was to use smaller plates when I want to eat. The plate gets full quicker and I would discipline myself not to go for another portion. If you do this over time, you will get used to the 6-meals-a-day strategy and discipline yourself to consume only food that your body needs to the moment.
Whether you return to the 3-meals-a-day (if you do, I recommend you take healthy snacks in-between meals to maintain your metabolism) routine, the most important thing is that you get used to consuming only “small, manageable portions of nutrients,” which is what your body really needs. At first, you may have a hard time adjusting to this routine. You may keep feeling hungry in-between meals because you may be used to consuming enormous meals. But, you don’t have to worry. Try drinking plenty of water, and with time your stomach muscle will build up and adjust accordingly.
In summary, make sure you begin your day with a well-balanced breakfast that energizes you and kick-starts your metabolism for the day (after going for about 12 hours through the night without food. Remember that food is good for your body.) Keep this metabolism active by introducing food to your body throughout the day (like Jennifer Aniston does) in small, manageable portions. And ensure your meals are balanced, with a good measure of water that keeps you hydrated and at optimal capacity to naturally burn fat. If you think her 47-year-old, well-toned body is impossible to achieve, see what Nigerian women are achieving with very little effort.