Synchronize your eating: How changing your meal-time can maximize your weight loss goals
Meal timing is an important part of a healthy eating plan, almost as important as the food choices you make, especially if weight loss is the goal. When it comes to nutrition counseling, discussing meal timing with patients who plan to take prescribed appetite suppressants is priority. Simply, most appetite suppressants are recommended to be taken in the morning. The problem is that the benefits may decline later in the day triggering the urge to consume a large meal at night. Those who choose to take appetite suppressants should be educated on this so they can plan to avoid the temptation to have a heavy, late-night meal.
Daylight or synchronized eating is not a new concept. In fact, Dr. Micheal Rozien, a renowned internist and anesthesiologist, explained that we become more insulin resistant throughout the day, which means sugar that is no longer used by our body stays in the bloodstream and is converted into fat, which is why he recommends eating 75 percent of our daily calories before 2 p.m., with dinner being the smallest meal of the day.
The latest research on daylight eating at the Perelman School of Medicine of University of Pennsylvania, found that eating at night as opposed to throughout the day can increase one’s cholesterol levels, decreases fat metabolism, and increases the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Now, when it comes to meal-prepping and goal-setting, be sure they are specific. First decide the type of diet you will follow. For example, a plant-based or a low animal protein diet would require some creativity to avoid substitution of carbohydrates to make up for the loss of a food group. Second, create your menu. Third, factor in your lifestyle to determine your caloric needs. For instance, most Nurse Practitioners work day-time hours, devising a specific plan that incorporates eating throughout your day would be best. Here is an example:
Waking up – Noon. Lately, intermittent fasting (IF) has been the trend. Although it involves listening to the body, it is not entirely sync with daylight eating. Also, IF is not for everyone so you should consider your health condition and/or medication regimen before getting started. Eating in the morning, should also be influenced by how physically demanding your day is and your workout schedule. The best foods to meet your needs if you are active is oatmeal, berries, eggs. Check out Healthy Breakfast for Busy Mornings for a few recipes.
Noon to 6:00 pm. The heaviest meal of the day should be planned between noon and 3:00 pm, with the goal of not eating after 6:00 pm. This is the time most people consume their lunch as well as dinner. Your food choices during this time should also be influenced by your activity level in the evenings. If weight loss or staying lean is your goal, the longer the time between your last meal and bedtime, the better chance of meeting your goal. Consider shakes and meal replacements as an option if you need to eat after 6:00 pm for muscle recovery.
“It’s not what you eat but could be what time you eat, that is the question”
Prepare for success. Now, what preparations and changes can you make to ensure success with daylight eating? Meal prepping is key and if you are a road warrior like me, invest in a good cooler. When traveling I always bring cups and spoons with oatmeal packets so that all I have to locate is hot water to avoid the temptation to grab something else in an attempt to save time. And remember, it’s not what you eat but could be what time you eat, that is the question.
Consider your crowd. Who you spend time with during the early part of the day influences what you eat. Let’s face it, we need and love meeting up with our friends and co-workers. However, not everyone shares the same health goals. You may have to ask them, with love and gratitude, to please no longer bring extra pastries to share. For some, the morning time is most pivotal to staying on track and motivated for the entire day. Some report that if they stumble in the morning, they feel slightly defeated and find it more challenging to stay on track and disciplined as the day goes on. If this is you, then consider making your morning routine a priority and ask the people around you to assist with your goals as well.
If your health goals involve weight loss, I encourage you to not only listen to your body but consider daylight eating. Eating is necessary for survival, and typically it is recommended to not eat when you are not hungry but research shows that the time you eat is as important as what you eat. With so many options that are accessible at our fingertips, consider the source and your needs before starting any plan.