Ahhhhh, nutritional compliance…perhaps two words that couldn’t be more ironic when paired together. I work with so many smart folks that typically understand what it means to eat healthy. More times than not, people really do understand WHAT constitutes a healthy diet, it is the stick to-it-ed-ness that usually unravels than plan. We have 4 guiding principles in our nutrition philosophy that have withstood the test of time and transcend all scenarios and diet plans.
There are 4 things to consider: Quantity, Quality, Frequency, and Timing. All important; all required. Once people understand what is an appropriate food to be consumed on their plan the REAL missing link are the frequency and timing issues. People simply fail to eat when they should. Hunger increases, will power drops…the plan is compromised.This is THE MOST common trend I see in nutritional compliance failures. You may have all the best intentions and the most perfect plan quads up, but you only make it one week simply because you did something as little as miss that early morning or late afternoon snack. Yes, they are that important. They are what keep you in check. They keep your stomach small, your eyes and cravings under control. Let me put it this way, if you go as far as 4 hours without eating something, you are in big, big, trouble.
This is why you will never see me endorsing things (for practical real world people) such as intermittent fasting and warrior diet type approaches with consuming only one large major meal per day (nor simple calorie counting for that matter). It simply won’t pan out for most folks nor will results be optimal. Why? Again, back to ‘nutritional compliance’, and ‘will power’.
Ghrelin increases after periods of not eating and stimulate the appetite. Keep that bastard in check! The longer you go between meals the more it will work against you. Above, see the peaks just before breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
In the past, the research in this area has been a bit vague with not enough substantial evidence to support it. As I have mentioned so many times in the past, the real world and research are at a disconnect and some things although not currently black and white proven or explained, still work perfectly fine. Allirot and colleagues from several French research labs decided to do a controlled experiment. They invited 20 men to take part. The men were on average 27 years old, and of normal weight. The researchers gave the men a breakfast of 674.8 calories consisting of a slice of white bread, a croissant, some strawberry jam, a pat of unsalted butter, 4 ounces of orange juice, a spoonful of sugar and black coffee or tea. Uh, yes, junk food not under our ‘Quality’ umbrella.
So, would they still eat less when faced with a free and tempting meal? Yes indeed, the researchers found. The subjects were offered a buffet lunch after their experimental breakfast(s) consisting of grated carrots, pâté de campagne, rice, French beans, fried potatoes, sausages, chicken breast, cottage cheese, cheese, stewed fruit, chocolate cake, white bread and sugar. The men consumed less of the buffet on the days when they had eaten the multi-mini-breakfasts.
So, have you tried a diet plan and failed? Lost motivation? Will power? Felt deprived? Do just about everything right, but kept falling for silly snacks or foods that derail your plan? Or, were you too addicted to certain foods and couldn’t hold on? Trust me when I tell you this little principle may be all that you are missing. You have to eat before your brain and body get their typical signals for you to go fall into your same old habits. Then, will power and control will be at their highest when it may be time to have some freedom and flexibility with your food choices at meals like lunch or dinner. Think of your snacks as just quick things you have to do to hold it all together. And, with these foods, you don’t have to love them, but merely tolerate them. They are a crucial action step that again SHOULD only take a short amount of time to get so much more out of your plan. And at the end of the day may be the one single most important factor to you succeeding or failing.
Or, want a guaranteed success track with made for you meals that are all QQFT friendly? Check out leanandgreenfoods.com.
- An isocaloric increase of eating episodes in the morning contributes to decrease energy intake at lunch in lean men. Xavier Allirot, Et Al. Physiology & Behavior, January 2013