When it comes to healthy eating, you’ve likely heard far more about what and how much to eat versus when to eat.
It makes sense: Most experts say you first need to know whether you’re eating too much or not enough, then nail down the right macronutrient balance for your goals. Most people fine-tune nutrient timing later.
But if you’re eating the right foods in the right amounts, but still not seeing the results you think you should be, could it be when you’re eating that’s holding you back?
How much does meal timing matter, really? Is meal timing a myth? Let’s dive into that question and others about when you should eat.
What is Nutrient Timing?
Eating macronutrients at certain times — before, during, or after workouts — is called nutrient timing.
The concept of nutrient timing includes the new rules of protein timing, or the “anabolic window” after workouts when muscles are most receptive to protein. It comes into play when determining how to eat leading up to your big endurance event.
Is Meal Timing a Myth?
We’ve been conditioned to eat by the clock, though it’s a habit that contradicts the concept of mindful eating, or purposefully noticing hunger and satiety cues.
So is meal timing a myth? Yes and no, says Paige Benté, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., and nutrition manager at Beachbody. It matters, just not as much as you might think.
“With athletes, it’s much more important to time your meals appropriately,” says Benté, adding that this is less important for the weekend warrior than the Olympic athlete. (But those in between may see a benefit.)
In general, for most people, missing one meal occasionally or eating lunch an hour early or late isn’t what’s going to make or break your diet.
But you do need to eat regularly. In a statement published in the journal Circulation, the American Heart Association makes the case for eating intentionally and paying attention to the timing and frequency of your meals.
According to the AHA, a consistent, regular eating schedule could yield a healthier lifestyle and could benefit your cardiovascular health, too.
And when it comes to weight loss and maintenance, the timing of your meals is an important factor in maintaining appetite and healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day, says Jim White, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Regularly timed meals can also help you maintain a healthy metabolism and energy levels, he adds.
Additionally, going to bed with a full stomach or not eating the right ratio and amount of carbs and protein on either side of a workout can mean that you’re not getting the most from all that work, something we’ll delve into in just a moment.
If you’re interested in trying meal timing, check out Beachbody’s A Little Obsessed, which goes live on December 20, 2017. This five-day program is a “sampler” of Autumn Calabrese’s new 80 Day Obsession program, which launches in January 2018.
This new fitness and nutrition program features a meal plan that is laid out for you with very specific meal times.
Do You Need to Eat Breakfast?
Breakfast is the first food-related decision you make daily, and White says it’s a no-brainer. “Breakfast literally means breaking your body out of its nightly fast,” he says.
While some people may be able to skip breakfast and still balance the rest of their day in terms of calories and nutrients, it’s not easy or generally recommended.
“If you skip breakfast and then you are ravenously hungry by noon and eat double what you would normally eat for lunch, then you haven’t done yourself any favors,” Benté says.
White is definitely on Team Breakfast: “It spurs metabolism, gives you an energy boost, and it also provides your brain with the fuel that it needs to function at work or school, helping you to concentrate and focus.”
Amy Shapiro, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., embraces the adage “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” She says she loves “the idea of a bigger meal at breakfast, as you are guaranteed to use that energy throughout the day.”
Furthermore, some studies have shown that men who eat breakfast are less likely to gain weight compared with those who do not.
Does Eating Lunch Matter?
Does eating lunch matter? Gordon Gekko, the antagonist of Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, famously crowed that “lunch is for wimps.”
But Gekko is definitely not a role model for healthy living — and eating lunch does matter. Shapiro thinks lunch is your best bet for getting a midday energy boost and avoiding the afternoon slump.
“We need lunch to keep our energy up throughout the day and to prevent us from overeating later in the day,” says Shapiro, a New York-based nutritionist. “If you skip it and let yourself get too hungry, dinner will be too big — and this can ruin your workout goals and weight-loss efforts.”
What if you just don’t have time for lunch? Are your health goals doomed? Benté says no. “If you can go with breakfast and dinner in a day, and eat the appropriate amount of calories then, sure,” you can overlook lunch, she says.
What’s the Right Time to Eat Dinner?
Sleep is a vital component of health, and your nutrition should work in sync with your other healthy habits — not against them.
Hitting the sack with a full belly is unlikely to help you sleep. What’s the right time to eat dinner? It’s best not to eat too close to bedtime (though that’s better than skipping dinner).
“A light dinner about three hours before bed is the best way to make sure your meal is not getting in the way of adequate sleep,” says White, adding that keeping it light will ensure that you are able to burn off some of that energy before bed.
That three-hour window should leave enough time between eating and lying down to let your body get a head start on digestion, so as to not interfere with your ability to get to sleep — and stay asleep.
Eating less than two hours before bedtime isn’t recommended, says Benté. “That’s really to allow digestion to take place before sleep and prevent things like acid reflux.”
How Long Do You Need to Go Without Eating at Night?
If you need to give yourself at least three hours to digest dinner before bed, how long do you need to go without eating at night?
Benté says you should go at least another eight hours — the recommended amount of sleep per night. To determine the timing for your last meal, look at what time you need to get up, and work backward.
If you have to get up at 6 a.m., you will want to be in bed by 10 p.m., so you’ll ideally have dinner by 7 p.m. That gives you 11 hours between meals, and if you eat dinner earlier or tend to eat breakfast later, you’ll naturally have more hours between meals.
While intermittent fasting is a popular diet technique that involves not eating for prescribed periods of time, commonly a 12- to 16-hour period overnight, don’t get too hung up on the exact number of hours.
“If you’re hungry when you wake up, eat — and if you’re not hungry immediately upon waking, wait to eat,” says Benté.
What Is the Best Thing to Eat Before Bed?
If you want to make your bedtime snack part of your recovery routine, what is the best thing to eat before bed?
To support your muscles after your workout, you’ll want to consume a protein that is absorbed slowly, like casein. This gives your body the tools it needs to repair and grow muscles overnight, while you sleep.
While whey protein, which the body absorbs quickly, is a good idea after a workout, “consuming casein, a slow-absorbed protein, before bed can improve muscle gain and fat loss,” says White. “It can also increase metabolism during sleep and improve satiety, helping you to eat less during the day.”
Beachbody Performance Recharge contains casein, and it is specially formulated with key ingredients to help accelerate overnight recovery, combat exercise-induced muscle soreness, and promote muscle protein synthesis.* “That provides a slow release of amino acids throughout the night that’s easy to digest,” says Benté.
“In general, we recommend not consuming foods that are high in processed carbohydrates immediately before bed,” she adds, since carbs provide energy (aka, the last thing you need before bed).
If you’re following a program like 21 Day Fix or Portion Fix, you know how much of each macronutrient you should be eating daily. To figure out your meal timing, take your daily allotment of containers, and outline when you’ll be eating each one throughout the day.
Let’s look at a few other commonly asked questions surrounding meal timing to get your eating plan on point.
How Long Should You Wait to Exercise After Eating Carbs?
One common question related to nutrient timing is: How long should you wait to exercise after eating carbs?
Carbs should be part of your pre-workout snack, which would ideally be a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein about an hour before your sweat session begins. This will give you adequate energy to avoid bonking during your workout.
How Long Before a Workout Should You Eat?
If you go too long without eating, you may not have enough energy to exercise, but eating too close to your sweat session can wreck your workout.
So how long before a workout should you eat? It depends on your personal diet and your goals, but a general recommendation is to eat within three hours of a workout.
How Many Times a Day Should You Eat to Lose Weight? When you’re trying to lose weight, meal timing can be tricky. You don’t want to get too hungry and risk overeating, but you need to keep your daily calorie goal in mind.
How many times a day should you eat to lose weight? “We recommend you eat every two to three hours,” says Benté.
This ensures your body is getting all of the appropriate nutrients and avoids the dreaded “hanger.” “You’re avoiding ever becoming absolutely starving,” says Benté, which can prevent you from blowing your hard work by snacking too much or overeating.
The Bottom Line
While you don’t need to eat by the clock or time your meals down to the minute, frequent and regular meals and snacks are going to help prevent hunger and keep your energy levels steady.
In addition, paying attention to your macro intake before and after workouts can help ensure you have energy from warm-up to cooldown — and your muscles will be primed and ready for next time.
Meal Timing: Does it Matter When You Eat? was originally posted at <a href="https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/meal-timing-facts" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/meal-timing-facts</a> by Lili Ladaga
YES — You Can Lose Weight Without “Starving”!
The other day, one of my weight-loss clients told me that she’d been “starving” while waiting for lunchtime to come around.
Of course, she didn’t mean that she was literally starving. She was just trying to say she was feeling “especially hungry.”
But I always discourage people I work with from using that word, because — aside from being insensitive to the fact that lots of people really ARE starving — it just creates a terrible mindset for anyone who’s trying to eat purposefully and lose weight.
Whenever you say that you’re starving (even in jest), some part of you begins to panic. And that feeling of panic can lead to bad decisions — like choosing to eat the next thing in sight.
And when the next thing in sight is a bag of chips or a sugary snack — that’s a choice that won’t help you reach your weight-loss goals and probably won’t even alleviate your hunger for long.
So before switching into panic mode, I advise my clients to take a breath — and instead of saying “I’m starving,” — say “I’m okay, I’m just hungry and I need to eat something.”
I always tell them to start by drinking water first (because hunger is very often dehydration in disguise!) and to remind themselves of WHY they’re trying to lose weight.
After that, it takes them just a few extra minutes to think of a healthy, filling option that will satisfy their hunger, nourish their bodies, and still help them reach their weight-loss goals.
Remember, you’re always in control of the food you eat — that’s an amazingly liberating idea!
Learn to eat because you’re hungry — not because you’re “starving” — and you’ll take a giant step down the path to a positive weight loss and mindset.
Be sure to look for my new nutrition program — the 2B Mindset™ — available beginning May 2 on TeamBeachbody.com.
It’s a healthy approach to weight loss that shows you how to coexist with food in real-world situations, outsmart your cravings, and manage setbacks before they even occur.
Best of all, it is designed to help you feel full and satisfied after every meal — so you can lose weight happily and learn to keep it off for good.
Enter your email address below to receive Ilana’s “5 Simple Secrets To Outsmart Overeating,” plus more free weight-loss tips and updates about the 2B Mindset.
Ilana Muhlstein, M.S., R.D.N., created the 2B Mindset as a way to help herself lose 100 pounds — and keep it off — after years of unsuccessful dieting.
After becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, she refined her breakthrough approach to healthy eating into a system simple enough for everyone to learn. To date, hundreds of her private practice clients have successfully lost weight using the same powerful principles she developed for herself.
Today, she’s excited to share those secrets with anyone who wants to lose weight without feeling hungry or deprived — with the 2B Mindset.
YES — You Can Lose Weight Without “Starving”! was originally posted at <a href="https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/lose-weight-without-starving" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/lose-weight-without-starving</a> by
13 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Weightlifting Program
Weightlifting is straightforward in theory (you just, erm…lift weights, right?). But it’s a bit more complicated in practice. As a beginner to weightlifting, it’s confusing (not to mention intimidating) to figure out which muscles to target, how much to lift, and how often to work out. How are you supposed to know where to even begin with finding a good weightlifting program?
Although it might seem daunting at first, the benefits of lifting weights far outweigh any hurdles you might have to getting started. William P. Kelley, C.S.C.S, ATC, says some major benefits of weightlifting include improved strength, bone density, and heart health. Studies even suggest that it can help keep your brain sharp, as well as increase energy levels and decrease stress.
Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Beachbody’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content, notes that lifting weights is also an effective way to lose weight: “Weightlifting can help you lose fat faster than steady state cardio because it keeps your metabolism elevated for longer post workout,” he explains. “The result is that it helps you burn more total calories.”
But before you get to enjoy all the benefits of lifting weights, you first have to get started. The first step? Creating smart goals.
What Are Your Weightlifting Goals?
“Goal-setting is critical to guiding your weightlifting path,” Kelley says. Before you even choose a weightlifting program, consider what you want to get out of it. Are you training for a specific event, for general health, or with aesthetics in mind? Do you want to lose weight, build strength, pack on muscle, or achieve a combination of any or all three of those goals?
“Each objective requires a different strategy, and by identifying your goal or goals, you can identify the most effective training program to achieve it,” Thieme says. The tips below will help you do that.
If you need some extra guidance to help you get started, check out Beachbody On Demand’s weightlifting programs, like Body Beast (which focuses on muscle building) and A Week of Hard Labor (an intense, five-day weightlifting routine). Both programs can help you achieve the lean, muscular physique you’ve always dreamed of building. (See the results for yourself!)
13 Common Questions About Starting a Weightlifting Program
These 13 questions and answers will give you the information you need to start lifting weights, including basic training tips and mistakes to avoid.
1. What equipment do I need for a weightlifting program?
If you’re starting an at-home weightlifting program, dumbbells are a necessity — but having just a single pair may not cut it.
Thieme says you need different weights to effectively challenge different muscle groups. Your legs should be able to handle heavier weights than your triceps, for example. That’s why he recommends investing in a pair of selectorized (AKA adjustable) dumbbells (like this set of Bowflex dumbbells). “A single pair of dumbbells can replace an entire dumbbell rack, saving you hundreds of dollars—not to mention lots of floor space,” he says.
A bench is another useful piece of equipment for developing overall strength and power, Kelly says, although you could get by without one if you’re short on space.
2. How much weight should I lift?
“You should always lift the heaviest amount of weight that allows you to complete all of your reps and sets for all of the exercises in your workout,” Thieme says.
If you can’t maintain proper form for the last several reps of an exercise, go lighter. If you can breeze through your reps with the last few feeling as comfortable as the first few, go heavier. The key to achieving muscle growth is to find your sweet spot, which in this case means a weight that challenges you without forcing you to sacrifice good form.
3. How many reps and sets should I do for each weightlifting exercise?
First, consider your weightlifting goals. “If you want increased strength, you should do from two to six reps per set. For hypertrophy [muscle growth] do eight to 12 reps. And for endurance, do 15 to 20 reps,” Kelley says.
As for sets, Thieme says it’s important to do multiple sets of each exercise, no matter your goal. Three sets per exercise is generally a good number, but don’t lock yourself into that. As long as you’re doing at least two and not more than five or six, you’re good. And if you want to increase your strength, build bigger muscles, and improve your muscular endurance, regularly vary the number of reps and sets you do.
“Optimal muscle growth occurs when you target both of the major muscle fiber types—I and II—and the best way achieve that is by lifting across the entire rep spectrum,” says Thieme. “Incorporate both heavy weight/low rep sets and light weight/high rep sets in your training program.”
4. Should I focus on one or two body parts a day, or do full-body workouts every time?
Both are effective strategies for packing on muscle. “The key is to work each body part or muscle group at least twice a week,” says Thieme, who suggests alternating between the two training strategies. “Do split training for two or three months, and then do total body training for two or three months.”
Your schedule is also a determining factor, Kelley notes. “If you can only work out two to three times per week, then a total body lifting program may be more efficient,” he says.
5. How many days per week should I lift weights?
How often you lift weights comes down to your goals and schedule as well, Kelley says. (Doe we sound like a broken record yet?)
“The ratio of exercise to recovery days that maximizes results and minimizes injury and overtraining risks depends largely on your current fitness level and the type, intensity, and duration of your workouts,” Thieme says. He recommends lifting a minimum of two days a week a maximum of six days.
6. Do I need to take rest days during a weightlifting program?
Yes! Giving yourself a day off from training is crucial to your weightlifting success. “Lifting days are where you [purposefully] damage muscle tissue,” Kelley says, while “rest/recovery days are when muscles repair and rebuild.” Both days are needed to become stronger.
If you don’t give yourself sufficient recovery time, you’ll sabotage your workout performance and hinder your results. “Training adaptations don’t happen during workouts, they happen between them, making recovery days just as important as training days,” says Thieme. “What people often forget is that, when it comes to exercise, more isn’t always better. You have to give your body the time it needs to respond to the training stimulus that each workout provides.”
How often you should take a recovery day depends on your fitness level, primary exercise type and intensity, age, and sleep habits, but a good rule of thumb is to take one or two rest/recovery days a week.
If you feel energized on your designated rest days, Kelley recommends active recovery activities, which facilitate blood flow to your muscles without overloading them. Yoga and light cardio (e.g., an easy jog, leisurely bike ride, or short hike) are good options. Also, don’t limit warm-up and cool-down activities to warm-ups and cool-downs. Perform dynamic stretching and foam rolling every day, regardless of whether or not you’re working out.
7. How do I avoid a muscle-building plateau?
There are numerous factors that contribute to muscle growth, but the key to achieving consistent gains is to regularly increase the challenge to your muscles, Kelley says. “By increasing the stress on a muscle through a principle called ‘progressive overload,’ you illicit changes in that muscle, including greater size, greater contraction force, and improved motor recruitment,” he explains.
Lifting progressively heavier weights isn’t the only way to do that. “Other ways to achieve progressive overload include decreasing the rest periods between sets, performing more complex exercise variations, and switching up the exercises you do,” says Thieme. “Even changing up your grip (e.g., from underhand to neutral) can increase the challenge to your muscles and trigger fresh growth.”
8. Can I do my weightlifting program and still do cardio and other workouts?
The short answer: yes. But you need to be strategic about it. “If your focus is weightlifting, then you should use cardio as a form of ‘active recovery,'” says Thieme.
If you do a heavy weightlifting session one day, and then go for an easy run the next, you can actually enhance your recovery (and results) from the weightlifting session by boosting blood flow—and the vital nutrient delivery and waste removal services it provides. “But a heavy weightlifting workout followed by a long, hard run or HIIT session the next day can do more harm than good,” says Thieme.
If you don’t allow your body sufficient time to recover between intense workouts, the only thing you’ll achieve is an increased risk of burnout and injury.
9. Will weightlifting make me bulky?
Lifting weights can cause men to become bulky if they focus solely and intensely on bodybuilding or pure strength training, Thieme explains, but this is rarely the case for women. Why? Genetics.
Men typically have a higher percentage of type II muscle fibers, which are bigger and have a higher growth potential than type I fibers. Plus, men produce more testosterone, which is critical for muscle building. “Women do not produce testosterone at high enough levels naturally to get bulky,” Kelley says, even if they’re lifting heavy amounts of weight. That said, a woman can still increase her muscle size through weightlifting if that’s her goal. “Studies also show that while most women can’t build as much muscle as most men, they can achieve similar increases in strength,” says Thieme.
10. How do I make sure I’m lifting with proper form?
Practicing correct weightlifting form is key to preventing injury and getting the results you want. The best way to guarantee good form? “Utilize a fitness professional [like a trainer] until you feel safe and confident in the staple lifts of your program,” Kelley says.
If you’re working out on Beachbody On Demand, pay attention to the trainers as they explain the correct starting stance, movement pattern, and key form points for each exercise, as well as which muscles to engage during the moves. Having a friend observe you can also help you keep your form on point.
11. How long should I follow a weightlifting program?
In general, Kelley recommends maintaining a specific weightlifting program for three to five weeks before you mix it up. “This gives the muscles time to adapt and grow in the current program; then, just as they acclimate, you tweak the program slightly to keep progressing,” he explains.
Perhaps more important than the timeline, however, is paying attention to the way your routine makes you feel. “If you haven’t increased the weight you’re lifting after a few weeks, or if you’ve noticed a significant drop in your motivation, it’s time to switch things up,” Thieme says.
Of course, if you follow a professionally designed program, like you’ll find on Beachbody On Demand, knowing when to switch things up isn’t even a concern. “Such variation is built into the program, eliminating the stress and guesswork for you,” says Thieme.
12. What should I eat before and after a workout to maximize my performance?
Before a weightlifting workout, focus on carbs, which will help top off your energy stores. The key is to choose something that you can digest before you start exercising. A piece of fruit is a good choice if you have 30 minutes or less until you work out. If your workout is still an hour out, our go-to recommendation is a piece of whole grain toast with nut butter.
Post-workout, the most important factor is protein, which can help facilitate muscle growth and speed recovery, Thieme says. Aim for 20 grams of fast-absorbing protein (like whey) within 30 minutes of exercising. A protein supplement such as Beachbody Performance Recover makes that easy.
13. How do I know if my weightlifting program is working?
To get the most accurate and objective measure of progress, Kelley suggests recording your workouts and tracking the numbers. “If you can increase the weight you lift by
13 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Weightlifting Program was originally posted at <a href="https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/weightlifting-program-questions" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/weightlifting-program-questions</a> by Hannah Rex
Sleep Deficiency Hinders Weight Loss, So Try Better Sleep Habits
Do you wake up feeling tired? Well, you’re not alone. One in every three Americans does not get the recommended sleep needed for optimal health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Sleep deficiency is known to cause weight gain, but also contributes to a whole list of more serious health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and diabetes, just to name a few.
Why Sleeping Is So Important for Weight Loss
Believe it or not, each and every day the most important thing that you do all day is sleep. Yes, you heard right! Sleep quality and duration are so important that they directly affect everything else you do in life.
“We are nothing but slaves to chemical processes,” says W. Christopher Winter, MD, in an article for Livestrong.
Nearly one third of our lives are spent asleep. During sleep, it is peak time for our bodies to repair muscle and release hormones that control natural processes, including appetite. All this is being done without any conscious energy being consumed.
Consequently, a deficiency in the sleep column affects everything; more specifically, it cuts weight loss and exercise performance by nearly 20%. This spirals into a decrease in hormone production, (which occurs when we sleep), and ultimately affects our daily eating pattern. Popular studies show that weight gain occurs because more calories are consumed on the following day, because of lack of hormone release. Therefore, a continued deficit during the night will only lead to months and years of unnecessary weight gain. On the flip side, if you aren’t already experiencing weight gain, you may just be unable to lose weight at all. So you don’t have weight gain, but no weight loss occurs, either.
Practice Better Sleep Habits
The best advice is to practice better sleep habits, getting optimal rest and avoiding insomnia.
Start with controlling your sleep environment by setting it at the appropriate temperature. Experts suggest trying between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Try eliminating all computers and television sets from your room as well, since any source of light tends to disrupt sleep patterns. Aim for consistency rather than trying to catch up on hours you might have missed the preceding day. Don’t be afraid to take short naps when feeling fatigued. These should be anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes long to help improve alertness, performance, and mood. Lastly, never consume caffeine in the afternoon because it has the ability to stay in your system and interrupt the natural onset of sleep several hours later (See our blog on giving up caffeine).
The final verdict is in. A poor amount of sleep greatly hinders weight loss and sets you up for other health problems. So do yourself a favor: turn out the light, tuck yourself in, and get some much-needed Zzzs.
This blog was written by Cara Hartman, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.
Sleep Deficiency Hinders Weight Loss, So Try Better Sleep Habits was originally posted at <a href="http://www.nifs.org/blog/sleep-deficiency-hinders-weight-loss-so-try-better-sleep-habits" target="_blank" rel="noopener">http://www.nifs.org/blog/sleep-deficiency-hinders-weight-loss-so-try-better-sleep-habits</a> by Cara Hartman