Why is Food Timing Important for Weight Loss?

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It’s All About Meal Timing

Obesity is a global concern now. With medical advances, the end to diet wizards is looming large as people are now rejecting fad diets and beginning to realize the power of being natural to stay healthy. People are increasingly opting for various natural methods such as exercise, eating right and eating less to lose weight. But is that all? Is only eating right all that is required for weight loss?

Researchers say when to eat is equally important as how much to eat, and this has become ‘the next big thing’ in the last few decades. This article will help you understand the facts about nutrient timing, eating time schedule to help faster weight loss, and achieve an optimum level of health and stamina.

What is meal or nutrient timing?

Nutrient timing is knowing when to eat specific nutrients like protein or carbs, at specific times like pre or post workout. To understand this, we should know that any exercise (cardio /aerobic or strength training /anaerobic) has three distinct phases as follows:

  • Energy phase- This is the exercise phase when the muscle glycogen starts depleting. Several hormones are released during this phase. The goal is to provide more carbohydrate and protein to the muscles so that recovery post exercise is faster. Hence, a drink that has 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein must be taken.
  • Anabolic phase- This phase consists of 45 minutes after a workout regime. This is a crucial phase as the muscle requires the right amount of nutrients to build strength, and for endurance and recovery. The muscle membranes are permeable to glucose only for 45 minutes post workout; hence, eating schedule during this post workout period is very important. A diet of 3:1 carbs to protein is what is needed.
  • Growth phase- This phase continues up to 20 hours post exercise. During this phase, a diet rich in proteins and low on carbs or fats should be consumed. You could have an energy bar, a cup of cooked oatmeal, a handful of nuts, fruit juices and so on.

The purpose of nutrient timing with respect to workout is to replenish the muscle loss, gain right energy, reduce inflammation, and aid faster recovery.

Healthy Eating Habits

Healthy eating habits are all about inculcating changes in the eating pattern, which are beneficial in the long run. Limiting yourself from food intake will only deprive you of energy, leaving you lethargic and weak. Hence, don’t cheat yourself of the pleasure of eating. The goal of following healthy eating habits should be to feel energetic, full and yet not gain unhealthy weight. Here are tips for eating healthy which will be beneficial once they become part of your routine.

  • Stay away from packed food. They are higher in salt and sugar content. Also, they contain various coloring agents which are harmful.
  • Stock your pantry with fresh fruits, nuts, veggies and milk.
  • In order to stay fuller and energetic all day, switch to whole grains or multigrain foods that include quinoa and millets. These products have high fiber content and nutrients and a low glycemic index. They are low on carbs and can help ward off diabetes.
  • Don’t overdo your food; avoid methods like deep frying, over boiling which will either add-on more calories or reduce the food’s nutritional value. Instead, change cooking methods to steaming, shallow frying, and using herbs instead of sauces.
  • Wise eating - Eat only how much your body asks for. Listen to your body. Stop when you feel satiated. Do not overeat.
  • Water- Sip all day, as much as you can. Water is important for nutrient absorption, repair, regulation of body functions and elimination of toxic wastes from your body. Have at least 3 liters of water per day.
  • Stay away from soda, artificially sweetened drinks, caffeine, and alcohol.
Healthy Eating Habits

Circadian rhythm and food timing

Our body functions on a routine 24-hour schedule. Even though it isn’t an actual watch, there is an internal clock that maintains a certain rhythm. This ‘circadian’ rhythm helps one to adjust sleep with eating patterns. Your eating time affects the metabolism, the sleep cycle and weight regulation. Eating at irregular intervals can lead to obesity related problems.

What’s the right time to eat?

Hunger knocks at your stomach’s doors every 3-5 hours using the internal body clock. Hence, many people are used to eating 3 - 4 meals a day. Try and stick to eating at the same time every day. In order to curb obesity, have 2-3 raw meals and a single cooked meal per day. Post workout your diet should be high in carbohydrates and anytime meals should be high on proteins and low on carbs and fats.

Need for breakfast – Breakfast, literally means breaking your night-long fast! Breakfast triggers your metabolism, feeds your body and gives that necessary energy boost to kickstart yet another long day. A mix of carbs, proteins and fat will get you going for the rest of the day. So never skip breakfast.

What about lunch?

Having a satisfying lunch is equally important. If lunch is skipped, it will leave you hungry and might lead to overeating for dinner. It will ultimately ruin your weight loss goal. Lunch can consist of 2 portions of veggies and meat, and 1 portion of carbs and minimal fats.

Dinner time

Never hit the bed with a full stomach. Eating at least 3 hours before bedtime is the recommendation. This ensures adequate digestion time. During these 3 hours, the necessary digestion takes place and there is no interference with the sleep process.

Bedtime and sleep

If you feel hungry and want to snack up at bedtime, nuts or protein bars are the way to go! Proteins help in overnight repair and muscle growth. Stay away from carbohydrates as they provide energy which is not required while sleeping. A gap of at least 11 hours is recommended after dinner and before breakfast. However, if you feel hungry early in the morning, don’t deprive yourself!

Remember, consistency is important for weight loss. Stick with the diet changes and never skip exercise. Eating healthy and staying happy should become second nature to you. Get away from distractions, focus on the meal, taste every morsel and identify and stop when you feel full. Practice mindful eating to understand your body’s needs. Don’t go for restrictive diets or short term rapid weight loss programs. They will do more harm than good. Remember weight loss is a journey, not a destination! Eat on time to stay healthy!

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