As a nutritionist, I hear this a lot from new clients: “I think I eat pretty well, so why can’t I lose the weight?”
The answer is actually quite simple. Even though people may be eating healthy foods, most often the reason they can’t lose the weight they want, or need to lose, stems from not eating correctly.
Most people think eating healthy foods is enough. Making healthy food choices is fantastic, don’t get me wrong. And fresh is always preferred over processed. Always. But did you know that unless those foods are consumed correctly, a person can in fact be burning lean muscle and storing fat all day long without even realizing it?
So, if I asked you which was more correct, an apple or a pizza with chicken, which would you choose? Most would choose the apple because fruit is healthy, right? True, but the pizza (although not necessarily healthier) with chicken is actually a better balance. And healthy without the balance won't get you the results you're looking for.
Choosing any foods without understanding how those macros react in our bodies is where a lot of people stumble. Macro nutrients, macros for short, are our proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Every food on the planet falls into one of these categories. Eating too many carbs for example causes our blood sugar to spike. And when blood sugar levels spike, our bodies store fat.
On the other hand, adding a protein and healthy fat to those carbs stabilizes blood sugar. When blood sugar is stabilized, the body is able to release stored fat into the bloodstream where our muscle takes it up and burns it as energy. At this point your body's metabolism turns on, you can start to lose weight, energy levels increase and lean muscle is protected and can be built up.
In addition to balancing meals, frequency is also key. Skipping breakfast, going too long between meals and restricting times you can eat, all cause blood sugar to drop. When blood sugar drops your body burns its own muscle in order to send food up to the brain. Done on an ongoing basis, this causes your metabolism to slow down, as there is less muscle to burn off the fat when your body does release it. As you can see, balance is key.
So, enter “PFC every three.”
In order to better balance blood sugar levels and avoid the storing of fat and burning of muscle, following these three simple steps as a great place to start.
1. Eat within one hour of waking. After going all night long without food, our bodies need a meal of balanced PFCs (protein, fat, carbohydrate). I can just hear all those mothers out there saying: “I told you breakfast was important!” What can I say, listen to your mom. She’s right.
2. Eat small meals every three to four hours. This gives our bodies a steady supply of nutrients in portions the body can metabolize and absorb, allowing our bodies to function more efficiently. On the other hand, stuffing yourself with two or three large meals per day causes blood sugar levels to spike and crash throughout the day, creating stress on your body's systems and adding stored fat around your middle.
Think of a babies as an example. They eat as soon as they wake up, eat every three to four hours, only eat when they feel hungry and stop eating when they are satisfied. And what do babies eat? Breastmilk or formula. Both are a balance of a protein, fat and carb.
The way our bodies metabolize food hasn't changed, we just became bigger humans so it makes sense to continue to fuel in the same way. Eating small meals frequently throughout the day allows our blood sugar to remain stable.
In addition to what we talked about earlier, blood sugar stabilization also eliminates sugar cravings, increases metabolism, balances hormones and allows other body systems to balance and function optimally. Definitely an enjoyable ride!
So, now that you know when to eat, what should you eat?
3. Eat in threes - PFCs! Picture your plate divided into three sections, one each for protein, fat, and carbs. Balancing your plate this way provides your body with all the macro, micro and phytonutrients it needs to be nourished at a cellular level.
When your cells are nourished, you feel satisfied and have the energy required to get you through the day without the dreaded mid-afternoon crash. Conversely, eliminating food groups (eg. carbs or fats) creates an imbalance in blood sugar, a deficiency in nutrients, sugar cravings, low energy and……the cycle of storing fat and burning muscle begins again.
Along with regular exercise, good balanced nutrition is key to a long and healthy life.
By implementing these three steps, you can begin to stabilize your blood sugar, kick-start your body’s metabolism into high gear and start releasing and burning any unwanted stored fat.
For more information on living the PFC lifestyle, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes Facebook group.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.