Whether we are trying to lose weight or not, Americans are obsessed with figuring out what foods are “healthy” to eat.
What does “healthy” even mean anymore?
When it comes to nutrition, the barrage of contradicting advice on this topic can seem a sea of madness.
Red meat or no red meat is the controversy of the moment, after a series of papers were published in a reputable medical journal refuting the longtime held belief that red meat is harmful to your health.
But that’s typical anymore, right? We are told that eggs are bad for us one moment, and then good for us another moment.
How do we decide if we should go vegan or carnivore?
We are supposed to include an endless list of “healthy” foods in our diet, as recommended by national experts and our doctors. We should eat MORE: fruits, vegetables, fiber, healthy fats, whole grains, omega 3 fatty acids, fish, blah blah blah.
Very little attention is given to WHEN we should eat. Except for standard conventional advice that we should eat 6 times a day, beginning from the moment we wake up. Breakfast is emphasized as “the most important meal of the day.”
Eating frequently throughout the day is necessary to “keep our metabolism going.” We are warned that allowing too much time to pass between meals makes us ravenously hungry and leads to overeating.
I want to show you that this is a bunch of bullsh*t. This is precisely the kind of misinformation that is undermining our ability to control our weight and free ourselves from chronic disease.
What I want to focus on here is recognizing that WHEN we eat is just as important to consider as WHAT we are eating.
And the good news is, it isn’t complicated. It’s actually quite simple. It just takes looking at history and using some logic.
First, let’s consider: how often did we eat prior to the current epidemic of obesity and disease?
Before a time of modern comforts and abundance of food resources, was it possible to eat 6 times a day? Was it normal? No.
We didn’t used to wake up with refrigerators and toasters and microwaves. We had to get up and find our food. In fact, for most of human existence on Earth, we weren’t able to grow crops or store food for long periods of time.
We ate infrequently and unpredictably. Snacking was almost nonexistent. Even in the last century, three meals per day was the most a person might be fortunate enough to expect.
And we ate at discrete times and places. Such as at a table at regular mealtime. We eat so often now that our culture has had to accommodate all this eating. It is now “normal” to eat at our workstations, while driving, or in bed.
It’s worth asking your grandma for her advice, rather than following conventional wisdom for maintaining a healthy weight.
Second, let’s examine how illogical a constant eating pattern is for a person with Type 2 Diabetes.
Let’s establish some basic facts about Type 2 Diabetes.
- Type 2 Diabetes is a disease of too much insulin, which leads to the development of insulin resistance, the defining feature of Type 2 Diabetes.
- Insulin is a fat storage hormone, which is why both obesity and Type 2 Diabetes are caused by too much insulin. When insulin levels are high, you are in fat storage mode and cannot burn fat for fuel.
- Insulin is released in response to eating carbohydrates (which raise blood sugar), and to a much lesser degree, protein.
- Modern foods such as refined carbohydrates (sugar and flour) are concentrated foods that require a sharp rise in insulin levels.
- Allowing insulin levels to fall allows the body to become sensitive to insulin, thereby decreasing insulin resistance.
Understanding these basic facts about Type 2 Diabetes makes immediately clear why eating frequently makes it difficult to access body fat stores or improve insulin resistance. Especially because we are eating large amounts of carbohydrates in our diets.
EVERY TIME you put food that contains carbs in your mouth, you are asking your body to release insulin. This keeps insulin levels high and makes it difficult to lose weight or reverse insulin resistance.
So does it make sense to eat 6 times a day if you are trying to lose weight or reverse Type 2 Diabetes? No. It is exactly the opposite of what makes sense.
That is why intermittent fasting is becoming such a popular tool for weight loss and blood sugar control. Although intermittent fasting can mean all kinds of eating patterns, it is essentially prolonging the fasted state. All of us fast when we sleep.
But most of us are eating more often that we are NOT eating. What I mean by that is if you look at the period of time in 24 hours that you are in a fed state (eating regularly) and compare it to the period of time you are in a fasted state, which state dominates? Tipping the balance in favor of a fasted state gives your body time to tap into fat stores and become sensitive to insulin again.
What else have we been taught and continue to believe that is sabotaging our efforts to restore our good health? It’s important to question everything you have been taught about “healthy eating” because so much of it is interfering with your well-meaning efforts to take care of yourself.
I teach all of my clients to do this. We find and correct all the misinformation and then create a plan that produces results. If you are interested in how I can help you get results, send me a message here.