You’ve read the first part of How to Kick Start Your Metabolism so you know what to eat. (Missed it? Go here.) This part is going to tell you When to Eat.
How Many Meals to Kick Start Your Metabolism
Everyone from doctors to fitness instructors say to eat 6 small meals a day to keep our metabolism up and burning at full speed. However, our bodies were designed to go through short periods of fasting.
Our ancient ancestors didn’t have constant access to food. There weren’t pantries or refrigerators. They had to hunt and gather what was available WHEN it was available.
Daily life included walking, chasing prey, transporting kills, picking and carrying fruits and nuts, preparing these foods to eat. This inherently meant there were periods where food was simply not available. Their bodies, though very active, lived off the excess calories that were stored during that feasting time. In our current day, simply eating three healthy, delicious real food meals a day without snacking is a good way to start.
Eating every 2-3 hours as many suggest, means you have a constant flow of glucose coming into your body. Insulin, the master hormone, is the key that lets that glucose into your cells to form energy (a good thing.) When there’s too much glucose, insulin goes on overdrive trying to let the glucose into the cells and when your cells are full, they ARE FULL and can’t take anymore. (A bad thing…read on for why.)
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When to Eat to Avoid Disease
When cells are full and stop taking in glucose, two negative things begin to happen:
- Your liver sends excess glucose it can’t use within 24 hours into fat cells which are infinite in both the quantity and the ability to expand. (Hello, cellulite!)
- This extra glucose also turns into triglycerides (it’s not fat that causes triglycerides, it’s too much food, especially sugar and grains)
- Your cells “change the locks” on their doors because insulin has become annoying. (AKA Insulin Resistance. Sound familiar?)
By the way, insulin resistance leads to ALL lifestyle related diseases: cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimers/Dimentia so how do you avoid this problem?
Allowing three or more hours between meals gives insulin a chance to be depleted and another hormone, leptin, a chance to signal your brain it’s time to eat again. If you’re frequently eating, not only will you become insulin resistant, you will also become leptin resistant and therefore feel hungry always and not know when you’re actually full.
Health Coach Tip: To know if you’re truly HUNGRY or just needing a food fix, ask yourself “Does a plate of broccoli and grilled chicken sound great right now?” If not, it’s a craving or you’re needing comfort. Call a friend, take a walk, busy yourself, meditate, play and wait til the next meal. Enjoy knowing you’re in control, not your emotions.
When to Stop Eating to Kick Start Your Metabolism
Another way to make sure your metabolism is operating optimally is to leave a large window each day that you are not eating or drinking anything at all. The trendy name for this right now is Intermittent Fasting but for many of you, you may be practicing this without even knowing it.
A good window of time to start with, simply for good health, is 12 hours. This means if you finish dinner at 8pm then you won’t eat or drink anything (other than black tea, green tea, black coffee or water) until at least 8am the next morning. If you’re already doing this, congrats…you’re on trend and already intermittent fasting.
How Intermittent Fasting Aids Metabolism
Why is leaving this window important? There are so many reasons, but I will cover a few of the biggies here:
- Burns fat. Leaving time between meals without snacking gives your body time to burn the calories you ate and start burning your fat stores? You will begin to see your body transform especially if you’re putting into effect the other habits you’re learning during this series.
- Cells have a chance to repair. When your body isn’t busy digesting food and storing it, it can go to work on all the waste in your cells. This includes destroying the cells that are harmful – such as cancer and the proteins that cause Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s – or no longer serving your body. This is called autophagy and is one of our bodies’ superpowers.
- Increases insulin sensitivity. Giving your body 12+ hours without any food causes your cells to reset and open the door to glucose rather than it going into fat storage.
Besides these benefits, various studies have shown improvement in brain function, blood pressure and many other things.
I will save all the details about Intermittent Fasting for another post. However, for all of you science-y people or those who like to go down the rabbit hole of research, I have included several studies at the bottom of this post.