This is the first post in a long series of posts designed to help you create a healthy lifestyle. I should start by saying that I am not a nutritionist, just an avid healthy eater and gym rat. Every person is different, but we are all human and require food for energy and utilize this energy in the same way.
For the first post I will describe an eating schedule that most diet plans, books and websites make you pay for. This advice is free and it may help you. Adopting the following methods can help you lose weight if you are overweight and will help maintain a healthy weight level. I will also cover the importance of water consumption.
Eat 4-5 meals per day.
Yes, if you follow this advice you will get to eat more frequently. Each meal should be separated by 3-4 hours. This may be difficult at first if you are on a “normal” (breakfast, lunch, dinner) eating schedule. Be sure to drink 8-16 oz of water with every meal, but more on that later.
Start out by eating breakfast! Many people miss this important meal! By eating within the first 30-45 minutes of waking you kick-start your metabolism. If you are already accustomed to eating breakfast, eat a slightly smaller breakfast than usual.
Your next task is to eat 3-4 hours later. If you are just starting this program and find yourself not hungry, eat anyways, even if it is something small, like an apple. Repeat until you have consumed 4-5 meals each day. One thing to keep in mind is that you should try not to eat within 2 hours of going to bed.
The main reason for eating so often is to avoid snacking. By eating every 3-4 hours, you will tend to snack less often because a meal is just around the corner. Consider the normal businessman/woman: 7:30am – breakfast, 12pm – lunch, 7pm – dinner. If you’re in an office it’s probably hard to avoid the goodies at meetings, presentations and coworkers bringing in baked goods. But if you were on this schedule and had eaten only 1 1/2 hours ago, you probably wouldn’t be able to fit that 500 calorie muffin or brownie and you’re next meal would only be 1 1/2 hours away. Eating smaller meals may also stabilize your energy levels throughout the day and avoid that sluggish feeling often associated with a large meal.
Personally, I eat 4 meals a day. I’ll get into what specific foods to eat in another post, but here is my normal meal schedule with sample meal suggestions:
8:00AM – Breakfast (Peanut Butter & Jelly Oatmeal or Pancakes)
12:00PM – Lunch #1 (Leftovers or Wrap)
3:30PM – Lunch #2 (Peanut Butter Parfait or Peanut Butter Hot Dogs)
7:00PM – Dinner (Enchiladas, Spinach Cheddarburgers, etc…)
These times are by no means set in stone, they often shift by 1 hour or more. Use whatever time periods work for you, starting with a meal right when you wake up and staying as close as possible to a 3-4 hours time frame. Also, try not to snack! Your next meal is only 3 hours away! If you find it difficult to get the meals in, look into quick and easy meals you can pack with you. Peanut Butter Hot Dogs or Protein Bars make a great meal on the go and can be prepared in the morning and will stay good all day! Apples, carrots, trail mix or beef jerky are some other great examples.
Drink water, LOTS of it!
8 glasses a day, right? Wrong. I drink about 1.5 to 2 gallons of water a day which equates to 24-32 glasses a day. Why? Well, I’ve been drinking this amount for a long time so now I am just always thirsty. But in general, consuming water is beneficial for several reasons.
Most importantly it aids in digestion. Imagine trying to clean a melted Snickers bar from a counter top without water. The sticky caramel would be near impossible to remove. Now imagine the same scenario with the aid of water. The water will dissolve the sugar and make clean up much easier. The same is true inside your body. Water helps to absorb the nutrients from your meal and deliver them to your system faster. In addition, water helps flush the waste from your system.
Water also helps to fill you. You should consume at least 2 (8 oz) glasses of water with every meal. Doing so will cause you to eat less while aiding digestion. Always keep a full water bottle in hand and refill often. If you find it difficult to drink so much plain water, try squeezing some lemon or lime juice in it or adding a slice of cucumber for a clean crispness. Seltzer is another option, but I find that after about 4-6 glasses I begin to feel a little sick from all of the bubbles.
Drink what you can. I drink 24-32 glasses of water a day but I am also 6’3″, 160lbs and work out 4-5 days a week. Adjust your water intake goal according to your body size and work your way up slowly. Naturally you should expect to make more bathroom trips throughout the day. One annoyance is the midnight bathroom trips. To avoid this as best possible, stop drinking water several hours before going to sleep. I try to stop about 4 hours before I go to bed.
I hope this was informative and helpful! Leave any questions or comments below.