In terms of eating in relation to exercising…
As a general rule of thumb, your biggest meal of the day should come right after you work out (except on your Low-Carb Days- learn more about Carb Cycling here:).[Related Article: What is Carb Cycling and What does it mean for fatloss in your 40s?]
That’s when your muscles are hungriest and most receptive to nutrients. After you’ve put them through their paces, you also need to replenish the carbohydrates they store.
Aside from that, meal timing has very little impact on your ability to burn fat.
Here’s a confession: Most mornings, I don’t even eat breakfast. Eek!
Sure, I know it’s considered by many to be the most important meal of the day, but that simply doesn’t work for me. I’ll regularly go for several hours on hot water and lemon or even a green juice, and come mid morning I make my big smoothie and then maybe a salad, or leftovers from the previous day sometime in the afternoon. Evenings are generally when I load up with a big dinner after my classes or workout in the afternoon.
That’s what works for me. It may not work for you, but only you can determine that. You have to think of yourself as both scientist and subject, – a little health geek or guinea pig trying to ferret out what works for you. Conscious and mindfully conducting a series of experiments on yourself, making notes along the way. The results you get along the way should be your guide.
Subscribe to Blog via Email
One Rule- Do not eat before bed
At night, it’s best to finish your last meal at least 2 to 3 hours before hitting the hay. Far too many of us like to enjoy a little (or not-so-little) snack before bed, but it’s not a healthy habit and dreadful for fatloss and results.
As harmless as it may seem, that quick snack alters the balance of your hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which affect melatonin, insulin, and thyroid function.
Confused? Let me map it out for you.
Here’s what normally happens at night:
1. You eat dinner and, a few hours later, your blood sugar and insulin levels fall.
2. Decreasing insulin triggers the hormone leptin to be released to inhibit hunger when you go to bed.
3. Leptin triggers thyroid hormone release to keep you warm and burn stored fat during the night. This process is balanced with melatonin release, which induces sleep.
Now, if you eat close to bedtime, this normal process gets thrown out of whack.
1. You’ll have trouble sleeping.
2. The next day, your lack of sleep decreases insulin sensitivity and causes a prediabetic situation in which you have much lower glucose tolerance.
3. Insulin will be elevated, and you will be less sensitive to leptin.
4. You will be hungrier because the hormone ghrelin will be elevated. You’ll particularly crave foods higher in sugar due to your poor blood sugar state.
5. You’ll have less desire to be active, leading you to burn fewer calories on the days after short sleep. I bet you didn’t think a few cookies or a little leftover spaghetti before you hit the hay could have such an impact on your body chemistry, but the before-bed meal is quite sneaky.
If you absolutely must have something close to bedtime, I recommend a smoothie that combines protein, fibrous veggies, and a few fruits like berries or an apple like my green goddess smoothie which is my favourite go to post workout meal even on feast days.
[Related Article: Green Goddess Smoothie]
Subscribe to Blog via Email
Mapping our your meals
However you choose to map out your week of meals, I do suggest that you try two things.
1. Start your day with 30g protein (whenever that first meal is for you).
2. Add more carbohydrates throughout the day. I know this may sound completely counterintuitive to what you’ve been told, especially about carbohydrates. The reason I recommend following these two guidelines is because protein in the morning keeps you full longer, doesn’t spike your blood sugar, and keeps you more focused for hours. The reverse is true if you start with carbs first thing in the morning. Eating a big bowl of cereal or oatmeal, bagel, toast, muffin, or other typical breakfast option is a disaster waiting to happen. These carbs are quickly digested, which then spikes your blood sugar. A “crash” soon follows, leaving you feeling drained and foggy. You then find yourself craving a fix of caffeine or sugar just to make it to lunch.
Adding more protein to your morning meal also allows your natural morning spike of cortisol to occur, which is very important for maintaining healthy circadian rhythms. Normally, cortisol levels are highest in the morning when you wake up in the presence of light and lowest when you go to bed. Mess with this cycle and you start messing with your hormones and impair your body in its ability to lose weight.[Related Article: How stress and hormones affect your ability to burn fat]
Do you struggle with healthy eating? Do you want to transition into more of a plant based lifestyle? Want to get truly lean, strong and curvy? Then find out more about the Warrior Goddess Body 28 Day Programme here.