Saturday, March 1, 2014

How Many Meals?

In my recent blogpost titled Food Rules, I discussed my latest rule: no eating after 8pm. I have been sticking to this rule (almost perfectly!) for a few weeks now. And I think it has been a good thing for me. Since I'm no longer using the scale, nor any other objective form of measurement, I can't give you numbers to back up my statement. However, I think my belly may have diminished slightly.

Since I am only just beginning menopause, I think this is about the best I can expect. I know my body wants to put on fat. Did you know that body fat makes estrogen? This is the reason women tend to gain weight around menopause. I'm trying to talk my body out of it, but it seems to want that stupid estrogen.

Now I'm thinking about meals. How many per day. How large. And if I can somehow eat less.

Last summer, I experimented extensively with intermittent fasting. This is essentially skipping a meal. Most often, it is breakfast which is skipped. This extends the natural fasting period we all go through during the night. Instead of eating four meals, I ate three meals, beginning with lunch and ending with my evening snack. You might think this amounted to fewer calories overall. Probably not. Not only did I NOT lose weight this way, I managed to gain weight. While leading killer bootcamp classes 3 days per week. Quite an impressive feat, right? (If you're thinking I might have gained muscle, feel free to smack yourself across the face and GET REAL!) (No, I'm quite sure it was fat.)

Lately I have noticed, however, that I am not very hungry at dinnertime. I might have told you that I eat dinner at a ridiculously early hour-- usually around 4pm. There are many reasons why this has been my habit, including my children's schedules, my teaching schedule, etc. I've been in this habit for at least fifteen years. Now, I am noticing that I may not need to eat dinner at all. I have been having a small piece of fruit instead, and not getting hungry until my evening snack time. (I normally eat a very heavy lunch, with lots of protein and fat, so this could also be a factor.)

I have read that fasting, or eating fewer meals, may actually be a healthier option for the colon than eating many smaller meals throughout the day. This goes against conventional dieting wisdom, as 5-6 small meals has been the recommendation across the board for people trying to lose weight. I think this is a holdover from the low-fat, high-carb mentality of the 1980's where women attempted to live off such staples as lettuce with fat-free dressing and fat-free cookies with fat-free creamer in their coffees. If a person is eating plenty of protein and fat, a meal can last much longer, moving more slowly through the digestive tract and keeping the blood sugar at an even keel.

So this is my new plan. Eat a decent breakfast (high protein and low carb) as well as a nutrient dense lunch with plenty of healthy fats. Perhaps just a piece of fruit or a very light dinner. Then an evening snack, usually pistachios these days. (Not sick of them yet!) I'm not getting on that scale (you can't make me!) so I won't have numbers to report, but I hope to see less belly bulge as a result.

Let me know if you have discovered the key to effortless weight loss during menopause. Maybe someone out there has solved this puzzle already and I don't need to reinvent this wheel? If I don't hear from you, I'll have to just keep experimenting on myself.

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