I’m often met with a lot of debate when I challenge my patients to eliminate their afternoon snack for weight loss. As a culture in North America, we have been taught, over the past decade or two, that we should each small but frequent meals. The reasoning for it is for weight loss, and to sustain our energy and blood sugar. I would agree with that plan if you suffered from insulin dependent diabetes or hypoglycaemia, but, for the average person, your five to six times a day eating routine may be making you fat.
I can recall reading a small book by Mireille Guillanot entitled “French Women Don’t Get Fat”. If you’ve spent any time in France, you’ve witnessed that the obesity rates are nowhere near what you observe here in North America. Yet, you would witness people enjoying fresh bread, pastries and delicious cheeses on a daily basis. The art of not dieting is associated with slowing down and savouring your food, sitting down to eat meals and practicing presence while enjoying your food. Essentially, you don’t ever see French women snacking throughout the day or eating on the go. They plate and enjoy three meals a day.
The science of weight loss is now showing us that eating six times a day is not the way to go. You actually need to spend more time not eating to burn fat. When you eat, your insulin levels rise to help your body cope with the rise in blood sugar. This puts your body into fat storage mode as the excess fuel is stored to rebalance your blood sugar levels. Your body actually stays in storage mode for a few hours after you eat. So, if you eat every two to three hours, when do you actually get to burn fat as fuel?
Have you ever wondered why you feel lighter in the morning? Even before having a bowel movement, you may notice a sensation of feeling lighter because your body has had the chance to metabolize throughout the night. In an unfed state, you start to use your glycogen storage as fuel and, as that gets depleted, you start burning fat. More research is supporting that periods of fasting increases lipolysis, converting fat into fuel. The fewer times you eat throughout the day, the less insulin you have lingering and the more opportunity you give yourself to burn fuel.
I want to be clear that I’m not advocating you become anorexic and not to eat. You don’t necessarily have to eat less to stay lean – you just need to give your body time to actually start burning the food you eat.
There are a lot of reasons why people have difficulty losing weight. What you eat, when you eat it, how you exercise and your hormones all have a huge influence on your body’s ability to burn fat. We are all different.
If you are still having difficulty losing weight, you can learn more about our individualized weight loss programs by booking an appointment with one of our experienced Naturopathic Doctors at Bronte Wellness Boutique in Oakville.