Simply put… EAT. I want you to have breakfast and then follow it up with small meals every two to three hours, so that you never feel hungry at any point of the day.
Anytime you wait too long between meals–or miss a meal altogether–your body can interpret that innocent slipup as starvation, which can cause it to break down lean muscle tissue for energy and store a greater amount of whatever you eat during your next meal as fat. It’s not your body’s fault. It doesn’t always know, so it holds on to things that it’s not always supposed to hold on to. Worse yet, that big baby can throw a fit in the form of cravings for even larger amounts of food later in the day.
But when you can get yourself on some semblance of a food schedule (by simply eating every few hours at predetermined times), your body begins to learn when it’s going to get food next, making it less likely to send you hunger signals or make you crave more food than you need to eat. But even better than that, it’s less likely to hold on to excess calories.
Getting your body on a food schedule is fairly easy. It’s as simple as waking up and eating breakfast. After that, have something to eat–a healthy, smaller meal or snack–every two to three hours from that point forward.
Here’s a simple sample meal plan of what a typical day looks for me:
7:30 a.m.: Breakfast
- A spinach omelet (3 egg whites and 1 whole egg, mixed with a handful of baby spinach) with a piece of fruit
- A serving of oatmeal (mixed with raspberries and a teaspoon of flaxseed oil) and a glass of low- to no-fat milk
- A serving of plain (unsweetened) yogurt with raspberries and ½ of a whole-wheat bagel
10:00 a.m.: Snack
- A bag of grapes with 2 hard-boiled eggs or rolled-up turkey slices
12:30 p.m.: Lunch
- Three ounces of chicken breast, cut up and mixed with 1 cup of whole-wheat pasta and drizzled with olive oil, with a side of mixed greens
- Three ounces of fresh turkey breast or chicken breast on rye bread (with lettuce, tomato, and onion), and ½ cup of mixed berries mixed with sunflower seeds
3:00 p.m.: Snack
- A sliced pear covered in one serving of almond butter, and a glass of skim milk
5:30 p.m.: Dinner
- Three ounces of grilled salmon, 1 cup of cooked long-grain rice, and 1 cup of steamed asparagus
- Three ounces of grilled chicken, ½ cup of couscous (with shredded almonds mixed in), and 1 cup of steamed snow peas
- Three ounces of filet mignon on a bed of arugula with chopped tomatoes and sliced avocado
8:00 p.m.: Snack
- One cup of low-fat cottage cheese, mixed with 1 cup of raspberries and some sunflower seeds
Once you figure out what works best for you, do you have to eat only at those times? No–none of this is foolproof or absolute. And sticking to a perfect food schedule isn’t something I would expect to happen every single day. But breaking up your daily calories into smaller meals will pacify your inner baby. Plus, digestion burns calories, so by eating more frequently, you’ll be keeping your metabolism elevated longer throughout the day. (And just to be clear, this isn’t a green light to eat twenty-four hours straight. That’s gross.)
Read more about 30 small changes you can make to start losing weight in Jenna’s book “Thinner in 30: Small Changes That Add Up To Big Weight Loss In Just 30 Days.”
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