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Eat Well ·

Why It Matters When You Eat

By Elisa - Jenny Craig

If limiting your intake of calories is helping you lose weight, then cutting back even more on the calories you eat should speed up the weight loss process, right? Not necessarily.

 

Let’s talk about why it not only matters what you eat, but how often you eat. Read on for five tips to help you stay on track with your weight loss goals and to help you be more mindful when it comes to enjoying your next meals and snacks.

1. Avoid skipping meals

It may seem counterintuitive, but skipping meals may actually hinder your weight loss and potentially be detrimental to your overall health. By skipping meals during the day you may become extremely hungry at night, which can lead you to ditch your well-balanced diet and make unhealthy food choices, or worse, overeat (hello late-night snacks). One study1 even found that skipping breakfast may put men at higher risk for coronary disease compared to those who fueled up with a healthy breakfast in the morning. In addition, eating breakfast and healthy foods can help you stay full longer. This helps you stay on track with your weight loss goals and may help you avoid eating large meals.

2. Enjoy healthy snacksshutterstock_HealthySnacks_500.jpg

Whether you’re filling up on fresh and free foods like non-starchy vegetables or enjoying a piece of fruit, it’s important to eat healthy snacks throughout the day to keep your energy levels up and ward off cravings for high-calorie foods. The same principles that apply to skipping meals during the day also apply to snacks; not only do they keep you from experiencing a dip in blood sugar (and energy), but enjoying small, healthy snacks can also help ensure that you continue to keep your metabolism revved and stave off hunger pangs.

3. Follow a planned menu

If you’re just starting a planned weight loss program like Jenny Craig, you may be surprised at the sheer volume of food—meals, snacks, free foods and even desserts—that make up your daily plan. You may also be surprised at how many times a day you eat (six times a day if you're following the Jenny Craig program). However, over time, making healthier choices and developing healthier eating habits will help you learn the necessary skills for long-term success like portion control and balance. If your meal plan calls for added fruits and vegetables, just know that it’s an important part of your nutritional intake for the day.

shutterstock_EatRegularly_500.jpg4. Stay on schedule

Controlling hunger and balancing your blood sugar are both critical to your body and weight loss success. In fact, studies show2

that eating smaller meals with regular snacks throughout the day can help you balance your “good” and “bad” cholesterol (also known as HDL and LDL), along with managing your appetite and blood sugar. How often should you eat? This is a common question many people have when starting their weight loss journey. Jenny Craig recommends eating three meals and three snacks a day, typically aligned with daylight hours and avoiding late-night meals or snacks like fruits and vegtables. By eating healthy snacks in between meals, you’ll be less likely to feel ravenous at your next meal. This can help you avoid overeating and unnecessary weight gain. Here's one example: if you have breakfast at 7 a.m., you would enjoy a snack around 10 a.m., lunch at noon, your afternoon snack around 3 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m.

5. Time-restricted eating 

Another food intake strategy that is gaining support is called Time-Restricted Eating or a Daylight Nutrition Strategy. This is the science behind Jenny Craig’s new Rapid Results weight loss program. This strategy uses our bodies natural circadian rhythm and metabolism to help you work towards losing weight.

 

Essentially, there is a 12-hour nourishment period during the day to consume your calories. After that, your body goes into a 12-hour rejuvenation period in which you don't consume food—most of this time is spent sleeping. Since your metabolism is more efficient in the morning to late afternoon, this eating strategy helps to work with your body’s natural process. Here’s an example of how you would put this into practice: You would eat breakfast at 8 a.m. and finish your last meal of the day by 8 p.m. Tuck in for bed at a reasonable hour and start your routine over again the following day!  

 

With so many different opinions, it can be confusing when deciding how often you should eat to lose weight. Remember, the same food schedule won’t work for every single person. Listen to your body and find a meal timing strategy that works best for you and makes you feel good!

 

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Sources:

1 https://www.goredforwomen.org/about-heart-disease/heart_disease_research-subcategory/skipping-breakfast-increases-heart-risk/

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3070624/

 


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