Anyone trying to lose weight has been met with the same tornado of myths and misinformation that makes it impossible to discern fact from fake news.
Some of the most prevelant tips we hear when researching weight loss follow the same theme – it’s not about what you eat, it’s about when you eat it.
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Does eating too late at night lead to weight gain?
Unfortunately for us, we might need to take a break from the midnight fridge dive. “It’s not ideal to eat late at night as you want your body to be able to rest and rejuvenate overnight and not be digesting your food. It can also cause reflux for some, but it’s unlikely this would be the sole culprit for weight gain”.
Steph says eating at night only effects your weight if “you are over-consuming calories in the first place”.
Will skipping breakfast really slow down your metabolism?
If you’re forcing yourself to eat breakfast early because you think your metabolism will slow down if you don’t – you needn’t worry.
“Breakfast is still recommended, especially to ensure you’re getting maximum nutrients during the day. However, current research is actually showing that when you have your breakfast is not so important. Fasting has some creditable studies behind it’s benefits and this usually involves eating breakfast later in the morning compared to straight away, but fasting isn’t for everyone and either way you should still be having breakfast, just at a time that suits you best”.
Is there an optimum time to eat your meals to maintain or lose weight?
According to Steph, fasting isn’t just a fad. “It’s become a popular method for weight loss, in which the most common way is extending your overnight fast to 12/14/16 hours and eating within a smaller window. This has shown benefits for weight loss but is also not the only pattern for meals that will get those results.”
While fasting works terifically for some people, if it’s not your thing don’t worry. Steph says “how much you are consuming is more important than when you consume the meals”.
But fasting is definitely not safe for everyone. You should stay away from it if you are “breastfeeding, pregnant, do shift work, athletes, anyone with a history of disordered eating, hormone problems, blood sugar control problems or those who just get hangry when they’re not fed!”.
Should breakfast, lunch and dinner all be the same size meal?
According to Steph, there’s no one-size-fits-all method to your meal plan, you’ll have to factor in your lifestyle to the equation. “It really depends what you can stomach, but also what exercise you are doing. If some don’t have a big appetite in the morning then they are best eating a larger lunch and dinner to get the nutrients in. If some exercise first thing in the morning, then you will want to be re-fuelling for breakfast and therefore your lunch and dinner might be smaller. There is no rule for what size your meals need to be.”
How long should we be waiting in between meals?
Find yourself hungry 20 minutes after lunch? You may have to rethink your portion sizes. Steph believes “a good balanced meal should last you well over 2-3 hours. Those who feel the need to eat before then are likely not getting the right balance of macronutrient in their meals so are not feeling satiated”.
How many snacks (if any) should we be having a day?
Good news for the snack enthusiasts out there, Steph says we can have “however many you want as long you’re not going overboard for your energy requirements.”
But, you still have to watch your intake. “Snacking is not for everyone, but some of us do better on snacking. My advice is to give not snacking a go and see how it works for you. If you feel good, your energy levels are stable, and you’re not overeating at main meals and you are achieving/maintaining your weight goals, then great.
You might find that life without snacks is a struggle,but fear not. Steph says “If you feel tired, hangry, moody or irritable, then go back to adding in snacking and just be sure to account for it with your overall food consumption each day”.
What kind of snacks do you recommend?
Steph wants you to keep it simple: “I always suggest snacks that have veggies in them so raw veggie sticks, savoury muffins with veggies, veggie loafs, smoothies and a personal favourite is dark chocolate (the darker the better)”.
Should we be tracking our calories?
Calorie counting is contentious, some swear by it, but others swear it encourages disorder eating.
Steph says it depends on your relationship with food, “some can find this useful if your knowledge around calories in food is little, however it can quickly become an unhealthy obsession. I don’t encourage my clients to count calories.”
What are the biggest mistakes you see people making when it comes to their diet?
Get ready to look at the bigger picture. The biggest mistakes Steph sees people making are “focussing on the small things. You need to look at your diet as a bigger picture and remember that it’s what you do most of the time that counts, it’s not about being perfect all of the time. I also think not being organised is another big mistake people make that stops them from choosing healthy meals. Using a tool like The Body Good Diary to help plan your meals around food (that’s also in season) is such a good way to build habits for the long term and always ensure you are organised.”
Are there any myths you’d like to clear up when it comes to how people space out their meals?
“I personally believe that when people fast they just assume they should skip breakfast. Reality is we only have three real opportunities to get nutrients in per day and cutting out one of these opportunities makes it very difficult to reach your nutritional targets. If you fast, still have three meals per day just have it in your non-fasting window.”