Fasting or Small Meals for quicker results?
What’s the best eating strategy for fat loss? This is the question on the mind of those who are ready and motivated to transform their physique. A quick online search produces two popular eat-for-fat-loss strategies:
Intermittent Fasting vs Six Small Meals.
Which strategy works best? Which should you follow? Let’s find out…
- Intermittent Fasting: this eating strategy cycles between periods of eating and periods of fasting. The content of your meals during eating periods is not a factor. Some cycle between eating and fasting each day, creating a small window for eating and fasting for at least 12 hours, while others cycle eating and fasting across several days, taking as much as 48 hours at a time to fast.
- Pros: Humans have been fasting for thousands of years. Our bodies are well equipped to handle periods of fasting. Research shows that fasting produces benefits for disease prevention, metabolic health, weight loss and even life extension. Some find it less work to fast rather than to plan for several small meals. During eating periods you get to eat whatever you want but it’s even better when you choose healthy foods.
- Cons: Abstaining from nourishment for long periods of time can be challenging, especially when food is all around you. Socially it can be awkward to skip meals while your friends and family break bread together. Some find themselves overeating during eating cycles, and some find the ongoing absence of food to aggravate food obsession and to produce an unbalanced focus on food.
For more listen to my talk with Dr. Heidi Dulay: Intermittent Fasting – November 17, 2016
- Six Small Meals: this eating strategy, of breaking the traditional 3 square meals into 6 smaller meals that are spaced 2-3 hours apart, has been used by body builders and fitness competitors for years. The content and size of each meal is an important factor of this eating plan. Meals early in the day contain lean protein, fiber-filled veggies and a small portion of complex carbs, while meals later in the day are smaller and do not contain any complex carbs. Traditionally, all meals are low in fat; however better results can be achieved by increasing high quality fats.
Pros: You rarely feel hungry when you are eating every 2-3 hours. Energy levels are steady and high due to the constant supply of wholesome calories. Fat loss results are steady, and, when done with an exercise plan, muscle is maintained.
Cons: You have to plan ahead. Every. Single. Day. Get used to carrying around a small cooler filled with containers of chicken, broccoli, brown rice and sweet potatoes. Each meal is small, so restraint is required. Unless you are including the occasional cheat meal, or cheat day, there is no room in this diet for empty calories or comfort foods.
The facts are out there to prove that both of these eat-for-fat-loss strategies work. There are photos of real, actual people who have subscribed to each of these methods and have gone from flabby to lean. Both methods irrefutably work.
But why? How can two methods that utilize opposing strategies both produce fat loss results? And which one is better? Let’s dive deeper into what makes these eating strategies work…
- Meal Timing: When you eat is a factor with both of these eating plans. This means that subscribers to both plans are required to wait until the appointed time to eat. So mindless snacking, or grabbing a muffin just because it’s there, is out of the question. This generally reduces poor quality food and random food consumption. Food planning & preparation are important variables for weight loss, and explains why both plans produce results..
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- Meal Content: The Six-Small-Meals plan focuses on the content of each of your small meals in great detail. Your meals contain lean proteins, fiber-filled veggies, and limited complex carbs. This detailed control of calorie content is largely why this plan can assist with both fat & weight loss.
Intermittent Fasting does not traditionally consider the content of your meals during eating periods, but of course you can focus on content also.
- Meal Size: The Six-Small-Meals plan also focuses on the exact size of your meals, which makes sense since you are eating six times each day, and excess calories would quickly add up. Typically this is done by weight, so as you pack your meals for the day you’ll be using a food scale to ensure that you have exactly the right amount of lean protein and complex carbs. Veggies are often measured rather than weighed.
Intermittent Fasting does not consider the size of your meals during eating periods.
So What’s the BEST Eating Strategy for FAST Results?
As we’ve discussed, both of the eating strategies above are capable of producing results. This is due to the fact that both plans give you well needed structure. Generally speaking, if you follow any program you will get immediate results. The bigger problem is what happens over time…
When it’s all said and done, weight loss comes with a focus on the nutrition side of the equation. Structure = Results.
Remember the junk food diet where the professor lost weight eating restricted calories of only vending machine food? Although not a great model there was structure 🙂
When it comes down to you choosing your own eating strategy it’s important to determine what will work best with your lifestyle. If carrying a cooler with you and making time to stop every 3 hours to eat a meal is simply not something you can see yourself doing, then Intermittent Fasting may produce better results for you. The key is to figure out a plan for restricting junk food and eating food that makes you look and feel your best that you would realistically be motivated to stick with.
YOUR Eating Plan
Choosing an eating plan that you can actually stick with is the most important factor when it comes to seeing results. If you think Six-Small-Meals is the best philosophy, but know deep down that you’d never stick with it, then move on to a plan that would actually become part of your lifestyle.
Choose a strategy that works for you and… STICK WITH IT!
Want more guidance as you take your body from flab to fab? I’d love to help you! Give me a call at 650-654-4604 or shoot me an email email@example.com and let’s get you on track to shed some major fat before summer!
Your friend & coach,
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