Friday, July 19, 2013

How often should you eat?

Just yesterday I was having a conversation with a client about how often they should eat. And not 10 minutes later, one of my favorite bloggers, Balanced Bites posted this from Robb Wolf's blog about Meal Frequency.  You are welcome to read the entire post because it is fascinating but if you don't have time just check this section out:

               "6 meals per day will definitely allow for glucose to be readily available at all times.  This will prevent us from using gluconeogenesis to maintain blood sugar.  However, there are some other issues with this eating frequency.  There are two phases for insulin secretion.  The first phase lasts for approximately 10 minutes.  The pancreas stores insulin in preparation for the next meal.  During phase 1 this stored insulin is released.  In phase 2 the pancreas produces more insulin.  Insulin is present in the bloodstream for 2-3 hours after the meal is consumed. 
                Eating every 2-3 hours puts a strain on the pancreas because it is unable to produce the stored insulin for phase 1 of secretion.  This means that our pancreatic beta cells are working nonstop.  This is a fast track to type 2 diabetes.  In fact, loss of first phase insulin secretion is an independent predictor of type 2 diabetes (  Leptin and insulin work together to control energy consumption and storage.
                There are leptin receptors present on the pancreatic beta cells.  As we eat, leptin levels should rise, increasing satiety as well as communicating with the pancreatic cells to stop producing insulin (   On the other hand, an increase in insulin increases leptin.  If we continually secrete insulin, increasing leptin, we can be on a fast track to leptin resistance and metabolic syndrome.  Once again we have developed leptin and insulin resistance.
                Our body, when functioning properly, has a checks and balances system.  Opposite insulin is a hormone called glucagon.  Glucagon communicates with the liver to release its stored glucose to maintain blood sugar levels.  At this point free fatty acids are stimulated, as well as ketone bodies.  This is the true fat burning time.  Insulin and glucagon cannot be present in the bloodstream at the same time, so this occurs roughly 3 hours after eating a meal.  If we consume a meal every 2-3 hours glucagon is never released and we never enter this fat burning period.  We cannot burn fat while insulin is present!" 
Oh my!
So before going Paleo I would eat about every 2-3 hours thinking I was doing my body a favor plus I had hypoglycemia so I told myself I had to eat every 2-3 hours.  Guess what?  I was hypoglycemic because of how and what I was eating. It turns out that grains throw my blood sugar a curve ball.  I cut them out and it made a huge difference.

Robb Wolf's  article also mentions Intermittent Fasting (IF).  This article from Dr Mercola explains IF.  It discusses how you can either restrict your calorie intake for a period of time (for example to 600 calories for 2 days out of the week) or restrict the time frame of when you eat.  If you click on the link below Dr Mercola will explain how he practices IF.  He limits his food intake to 6-7 hours during the day which means you go about 16 hours without food. Dr Mercola article on IF

Robb Wolf feels that 16 hours is too long to go without food and Dr Mercola's article recommends 16 hours.  Which is right?  You probably need to find out which works best for you.  Because that is what is always comes down to. What works best for you. We are individuals and what works for your neighbor will probably not work for your lovely special body.   

Here is my advice if you are interested in playing with meal frequency and IF: 
  • First clean up your diet.  Take out the "white stuff" - sugar and flours and processed foods. They are just going to mess with your system.  Put real food in that gut.  
  • Second, start to see what meals keep you satiated the longest.  You may need to play around with the amount of protein, add in more vegetables and adjust your carbs or remove those grain carbs.  
  • Third, once you are eating 3 meals a day and feeling good then play around with IF.   
*Please note, if you are not feeling good at any step of the process then something else is going on and you need to seek help from a healthcare professional.

Good luck and now go eat some real food!


No comments:

Post a Comment