Nutrition: Energize in 3-5SqueezeItIn.com Girls
What’s the secret to staying slim? There isn’t one – there are 150 inside Patricia Bannan’s brand new book Eat Right When Time Is Tight: 150 Slim-Down Strategies and No-Cook Food Fixes. Just to whet our soon-to-be controlled appetites, she’s sharing Master Strategy 8 to help you stabilize and energize your days by eating…wait for it…MORE OFTEN! Sounds like a secret we can sink our teeth into!
Oh, Patricia! We’re feeling slimmer already!
Master Strategy 8: Energize in 3-5
by Patricia Bannan, MS, RD
This strategy is not only about what you eat but when you eat. The typical busy person eats little throughout the day and then overeats in the evening, but starving all day and binging at night is not only hard on your psyche, it’s the most inefficient way to provide your body with the energy you need. Yet many of us follow this pattern of skimping throughout the day, only to overeat at night.
For optimal energy levels, you want to stay in “energy balance”—or close to it—throughout the day. That means providing your body with the amount of fuel it needs at regular intervals so you’re neither overeating nor under-eating. Understanding how your body’s blood sugar levels rise and fall explains why this is critical, whether you want to lose weight or simply have more energy and feel better throughout the day.
Normally if you eat something, your blood sugar, or glucose levels, will rise, level out, and then drop in about three hour units. If you don’t eat every three hours or so, blood sugar begins to drop even further. Your brain knows you’re stuck in a meeting and can’t eat, but your body doesn’t know that. It thinks you’re in danger of starving. The more time that elapses before you eat, the lower your blood sugar falls. Then, when you do eat, you’ll produce more insulin than normal because your cells are desperate for energy. Insulin works as the gatekeeper to help transport glucose into your cells, and the more insulin you make, the hungrier you feel—and the more likely you are to store extra calories as fat. That’s the double-whammy of skipping meals. Not only do you feel crabby or tired from hunger, you’re more likely to gain weight as a result.
When you stay close to energy balance, however, you keep your blood sugar levels relatively stable throughout the day, which means more consistent energy levels, less hunger, and a better mood. Instead of eating three meals a day, aim for three smaller meals and one or two snacks. Done right, snacking helps you maintain steady blood sugar levels and makes you less likely to overeat at your next meal.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you might think the fewer calories a snack has, the better. But while a handful of carrot sticks may take the edge of your hunger for a few minutes, they won’t keep you going for long. Snacks that include protein and fiber (e.g., nuts, whole-food bars, and fruit and cheese) will give you sustained energy for hours.
Three easy ways to incorporate this strategy:
- Carry your secret weapon and “safeguard your environment” so you can sneak a snack if you need to.
- If it’s been more than four hours, eat something healthy—even if you’re not hungry yet. You’ll keep your blood sugar from plummeting.
- Set a reminder on your phone or watch so you don’t go more than five hours without eating.