I became a Mini Me because I started eating Mini Meals. Over a 3-4 year period I have dropped 50 pounds. In my efforts to lose weight, I accidently discovered the benefit of eating several smaller meals a day rather than the typical 3 larger ones. It evolved over time and has not only been a successful way to eat, but it has become the way that I prefer to eat.
Why 3 meals a day isn’t effective for weight loss:
The typical American diet advocates eating 3 square meals a day, but now Americans are more overweight than ever. Portion sizes have grown over the past 30-40 years, so those 3 square meals are bigger than ever before. Our bodies don’t need more fuel to function than they used to, so we are consuming more than we used to; and with TV, cable, and the computer, most of us have become more sedentary and are burning less physical energy than ever before. Mathematically speaking this results in more caloric intake, with less movement to burn, makes it easier in gaining weight!
People typically skip breakfast and overeat at lunch, feel sluggish until they’ve digested their food and bottom out late afternoon, then over do it again at dinner. They end up eating more calories, and go from a low sugar state to an overstuffed state. You run on fumes until you over eat at the next meal and you want to take a nap. Our bodies can only digest so much at one time. We deprive them by missing meals (breakfast) and then over do it at lunch. If we don’t eat when we are hungry, then it is natural to overcompensate when you do get around to eating when you’ve become ravenous. It is virtually impossible to restrain and control your consumption when you are ravenous! This roller coaster isn’t healthy when you think about it and it does nothing to assist you in your weight loss/maintenance efforts.
If I wanted to lose weight, I knew I needed to exercise more and reduce the number of calories that I took in, which meant reducing the portion size of my meals. I found that when I reduced my meal size, that I did get hungry more quickly and would need a snack. As a result, I was eating several times a day. To keep at or under my 1,200 calorie a day limit, it did require planning as to what I would eat so I would get the maximum amount of satiation for the amount of calories consumed. This plan worked for me because I achieved the weight/fitness level I desired and I felt better.
Why eating smaller meals is healthier and facilitates weight loss:
Our digestive system works best when having to process smaller amounts at a given moment, because if it receives more than it can process at a time, it stores the food as fat cells. This makes it even more difficult to burn fat, because the carbohydrates burn off first, then the fat. Eating more than you need, you are putting more food in the storehouse, which is your body, your hips and your waistline. You don’t want to over load it. There is much less potential to store fat if there isn’t any excess when one eats smaller meals instead.
Eating smaller meals keeps our blood sugar steady, and as a result, it decreases cravings and binges. Then, the metabolism is able to remain at optimal levels as body continues to burn calories when you constantly fuel it with the right amount of food. When you eat smaller meals, the nutrients are absorbed more efficiently and the body becomes more efficient at burning food. You end up eating fewer calories and burning more calories! You burn more calories for 2 reasons, the body is able to process the food more efficiently and you will feel like being active afterwards because the body isn’t overburdened with the digestion process. I always feel raring to go to exercise right after I eat because of my smaller meals and conversely, I know that if I try to exercise right before it’s time for my next meal, I often don’t have the energy because my fuel has run out.
How to go from eating 3 meals a day to 5 or 6
First of all it is a lifestyle change, it is a change of habits that you become used to. Admittedly, it may take a little transition adjust to this lifestyle change. Whenever I went on a diet in the past, and say for example, I was eating 1,800 calories a day and wanted to eat 1,200 calories a day, I found that the change from 1,800 calories to 1,200 calories was too painful. Instead I stair-stepped my way down. I would go from 1,800 to 1,500 for a few days or a couple of weeks until I got used to it, and then would step down again to 1,200 calories. The stomach is a muscle too and gets stretched when it gets used to eating more food. It takes time for it to adjust to a lower amount, so go slowly, so your stomach can transition with you and so that you will be able to stay on track without getting frustrated or abandoning the idea altogether.
Plan on 4 to 6 smaller meals or “large snacks”. Large snacks may feel more appropriate given the portion sizes we’ve all gotten used to over the years. I eat every 3-4 hours! Basically, I aim for meals that average 300 to 350 calories, and therefore I have room for a couple of 100 calorie snacks average and have room for another 100 calories worth of a treat! Remember if you are having a treat, you are not “depriving yourself” and are less likely to binge or cheat and are more likely to be continuing your plan to success.
The “P” word again: you must plan!
The key word here is “plan”. If you are going to eat reduced amounts, you need to have a plan, otherwise you’ll be lucky to maintain and will be more likely to overeat. Find what works best for you. My body composition analysis said that I needed a minimum of 40 grams of protein a day. I normally eat 80 to 100 grams of protein a day. My engine is efficient and needs a higher quality of food to keep it going.
Plan your snacks as well. A good suggestion would be to have your crackers and cheese, or fruits and veggies prepackaged in sandwich bags. I also suggest you do this yourself as it is much cheaper! By having prepackaged amounts in a baggie, you will be more likely to stop when you’ve finished your allotment. On the other hand if you have a box of crackers, you are going to continue to eat out of the box until you are no longer hungry. You could end up eating half the box!
For example with an allotment, last night for dinner, I had some black bean chips with some ground turkey and salsa and sour cream. This particular brand was 120 calories for 18 small chips. I pulled out 9 chips and then put the bag away. Remove it from the table so you won’t go back! You must be aware of what you are doing to remain in control.
Eat something before you go to bed
Eat a little something, not a big something, because if you are eating smaller meals, you will need to eat something before you go to bed; preferably something that contains protein and fiber, as it takes longer to digest and will you need the extra fuel over a period of a night’s sleep. With smaller meals, a before bedtime snack will become mandatory. I burn so well, that I keep snacks by my bed. I will invariably wake up in the middle of the night hungry, so I eat a Kashi granola bar. This granola bar is included in my breakfast calorie count.
To eat smaller meals, you must plan, and become aware of portion sizes and include the proper amounts of proteins, carbs and good fat in the fuel that you give your body. The more you know, the better choices you will make, which will bring you more efficiently and quickly to the results that you desire. Mini meals are a very efficient way of processing fuel and nutrition for your body so that you too will become a “Mini-Me”!