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20: Time Your Meals to Lose Weight

Oct 08, 2019

Want to lose that last bit of stubborn fat? Quit eating that after dinner snack! Nutrition expert Thunder Jalili shares why the timing of when you eat is just as important as what you eat. Learn just how easy it is to integrate fasting into your schedule and start losing weight.

Episode Transcript

This content was originally created for audio. Some elements such as tone, sound effects, and music can be hard to translate to text. As such, the following is a summary of the episode and has been edited for clarity. For the full experience, we encourage you to subscribe and listen— it's more fun that way.

When Trying to Lose Weight, Find a Diet You Can Live With

If you're trying to lose weight, there are so many options available. Especially if you search online. There are so many sources on the web, arguing that they have the absolute best diet plan. It can be hard to decipher what will help you lose the weight.

Thunder Jalili, PhD is the Director of Graduate Studies in Nutrition and Integrative Physiology at the University of Utah. He knows nutrition and is willing to help shed some light on how to best help you lose weight.

According to Thunder, no single diet is perfect. It's more important to pick something that works for you. Pick a diet that is something you can stick with for the rest of your life.

If you choose a diet that is extremely different from what you already eat, it's going to be hard. It may be food you don't like. It may be a strange eating pattern that will ultimately help you lost that stubborn extra ten pounds, but one you start eating "normally" again, you'll put the weight right back on.

Don't try to 'diet' just to lose a few pounds. Focus on changing your daily eating habits to help improve your health and fitness.

When You Eat is as Important as What You Eat

It may come as a surprise to some, but the timing of your meals in the day has as much to do with weight loss as the kinds of food you eat. The human physiology is made to cycle between two states: fed and fasted. The fed state right after eating is when your body increases insulin and utilizes nutrients in food to create stores of energy for the future. In the fasted state, the body uses these nutrients and stores to keep you functioning without falling apart. The human body functions best when it is able to go back and forth between these two states on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, most people end up staying in the fed state all day long. Think about it, you wake up and eat breakfast. Then at work you may have a snack before lunch. Then you eat a snack to help get you through the afternoon slump. Go home for dinner. Then probably a late night snack before bed.

It's not uncommon for the average person to be eating a bit of food every two to three hours between 7AM and 10pm. Your insulin levels stay high and you're body is stuck in a fed state for most of the day. Remember, the fed state is characterized by the body storing nutrients and building fat.

Try Getting at Least 12 Hours of Fasting a Day

Giving your body enough time to be in the fasted state is easier than you may think. According to Thunder, if you want to lose weight, it's important to get in at least 12 hours of fasting every day. If you're able to get 14 hours or more, even better. To maximize your benefits, that fasted time needs to be sustained and continuous. But when are you ever going to get that fasted time in your day? Simple: when you sleep.

If you eat dinner around 6PM every night and don't eat breakfast until 8AM, that's a full 14 hours of fasting. All it takes is eating breakfast and dinner at a regular time and cutting out any after dinner snacks. Your meal times don't need to be exact, just remember that even twelve hours between meals will give your body a benefit.

One of Thunder's college buddies was able to lose 10 pounds by thinking about his fasted state. His friend was very active, always watched what he ate, but always seemed to have a bit of excess body weight he never could seem to lose. He was one of those guys that always drank a big protein shake before bed because that was supposed to help him build muscle mass. What that high calorie shake was really doing was messing up his food timing. By cutting out the shake before bed, but keeping his active lifestyle and diet the same, he finally lost that stubborn extra weight.

You Will Not Lose Muscle By Fasting

Some guys are afraid that fasting will make them lost muscle mass. That's just not true.

According to Thunder, fasting won't impact your muscle mass as long as you eat your meals during the day at a regular time. A majority of muscle growth happens when your insulin levels are high. Every time you eat, insulin and amino acids are created, which in turn give your body the building blocks to grow muscle. As long as your body enters the fed state several times throughout the day, your muscles will be fine.

Thunder also explains that one of the common mistakes guys make is eating a ton of protein to make muscle gains. That's just not true. The amount of protein necessary to stimulate muscle growth for the average man is 20 grams per meal. For some guys, their genetics and metabolism will work best with 25 to 30 grams a meal. Eating higher amounts of protein with every meal will not help you grow more muscle.

Basically, you don't have to plow through a ton of protein at every meal to see a gain in muscle mass. Stop chugging those shakes or powering through a half dozen eggs every morning. Just make sure you eat 20-30 grams of protein several times a day, rather than shooting for a really high total amount of protein at the end of the day.

Remember, more protein in a day doesn't lead to more muscle growth. Space your protein throughout the day and keep the portions reasonable.

You Won't Be That Hungry During Fasting

Most guys are afraid that they'll be painfully hungry with any amount of fasted dieting,. especially late at night before bed. We all know that late night hunger often leads to bad eating decisions. When you're hungry at midnight, a salad is the last thing on your mind. You'll skip straight to the cookie dough in your freezer. So how's a guy supposed to stave off that hunger if they cut out an after dinner snack?

"Short answer, man up," says Thunder, "You'll get through [your hunger] really quick, and it won't be that bad in the morning."

Thunder says that the hunger isn't as bad as you'd think. Most people will feel hungry around five or six hours after their last meal, but then it goes away relatively soon afterward. If you time your dinner correctly, you may be a little hungry before you climb into bed, but the hunger should be gone by morning.

"You'll get over it," says Thunder.

Another strategy is to add exercise first thing in the morning. Your body will naturally feel less hungry right after exercise. So if you find yourself feeling hunger pangs right when you wake up, consider working out before breakfast to help you get the 12-14 hours of fasting you need to help you lose weight.

Just Going to Leave This Here

On this episode's Just Going to Leave This Here, Troy visits a historic mine in Park City and has been thinking a lot about how it impacted the history of Utah. Meanwhile, Scot turns to twitter to find the ideal components of a fitness program.

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