[By Fiona Chua]
Is there ever a good time to eat? Apparently there is! When you eat could be as important as what you eat, and ultimately the difference between svelte and stupendous. If you have skinny bffs who can stuff their faces yet fit into size 2 dresses, you will be happy to know the difference may not lie in their superior genetics but in intelligent meal planning. Eating at the appropriate times throughout the day will help to maximize fat burning and keep hunger at bay.
Put protein first.
Faced with a plate full of food, what do you reach for first? If you favour the fries over the steak, then you are on the wrong track. Eat the protein on your plate first to help speed the signal to your brain that you are full.
Leave alcohol last.
You don’t have to be a teetotal to stay in shape. Instead, if you have alcohol or wine, do so after your meal to enhance the hormones involved in appetite control and digestion
Eat every 3 to 4 hours.
You may have heard this before, but skinny people will tell you that it’s absolutely true—-they are always snacking yet will not gain an ounce. Most skinny people eat three meals and one snack, while others may prefer four smaller meals; find the combination that works best for you. Timing your meals in this way will improve your fat loss by preventing excess insulin, allowing leptin to work its magic on appetite control and metabolism, and by balancing the stress hormone cortisol. You should also enjoy your meals at the same time every day.
Breakfast is key.
Never attempt to lose weight by skipping breakfast. When you skip breakfast, you lose its stimulating benefits on your metabolic rate. You also become more likely to eat unbalanced meals, more calories, and larger amounts of saturated fat throughout the day. Plenty of research shows that those of us who skip breakfast are actually heavier. Missing out on a healthy morning meal also increases stress hormones.
Fast for 3 hours before bedtime.
Eating too close to bedtime raises your body temperature, increases blood sugar and insulin, prevents the release of melatonin, and cuts down on growth hormone release. All these factors interfere with the quality of your sleep and the natural fat-burning benefits of a good night’s rest. Furthermore, sleep deprivation leads to more cravings and a greater likelihood of overeating the next day.
Start the day with protein.
Bread or eggs for breakfast? For better appetite control throughout the day, try combining your starchy carbs at lunch, dinner, or after your workouts rather than at breakfast. Stick to eggs or whey protein smoothies for breakfast and you’ll eat less throughout the day.
Always eat within 45 minutes of finishing your workout.
Posy-workout meals is should not contain much fat and should be higher in carbohydrates and contain protein. Some runners for example abide by the 4:1 carb: protein rule. For example, have a smoothie made with juice, fruit, and protein powder. Eating the correct foods post workout not only helps you keep your hunger at bay but aids in post-exercise recovery which is essential for muscle growth.