We are going to review some physiology this week. It is important to understand that calorie restriction over a long duration is like fighting an uphill battle with weight loss. This is because obesity is due to hormonal imbalance and NOT calorie in calorie out imbalance.
Human bodies are elegant organisms that have survived because of their ability to maintain homeostasis. If there is a food shortage in our environment our resting energy expenditure (REE) – you may know it as the basal metabolic rate – decreases so we don’t burn energy the body “thinks” it may not be able to replace right away.
Restricting calories over weeks or months is like waving a red flag to our body’s hormonal energy homeostatic system forcing it to “think” it has to conserve energy by lowering the REE.
Science shows meal amounts and meal timing are two ways to increase our REE and continue to lose weight.
Here are a few ways to change up your diet plan within every month.
Change your intermittent fasting pattern.
Making your eating window smaller on fast days by 2-4 hours.
Shifting your eating window on fast days to the breakfast/lunch side of things and not eating in the evening. Here is more science on how this works well. Basically, this will help decrease insulin secretion and you will store less fat! Even doing this a few days a month will help you store less fat.
Does the second suggestion immediately make these thoughts appear?
“But “I have to eat dinner with my family!”
“But I’ll go to bed hungry!”
“But dinner is my favorite meal!”
“I need to relax after a crazy day in the OR with dinner!”
These thoughts are the unconscious primitive brain’s way of protecting the status quo you are currently living. The brain wants easy, pleasurable, and is SOOOO afraid of change! Fasting at dinnertime is a BIG CHANGE but a simple way to keep the REE higher and help you lose weight!
Change the number of meals eaten per day a few times a month.
It is actually quite easy to have one or two meals a day on workdays. It may be easier to have 3 meals on the weekend with extra activities you do with family and friends. As always we want to wait to eat till we are hungry (or at least have a 3-4 hour span between meals) and stop eating when we are satisfied. CAUTION: eating to full, even if you are only having one meal a day will still force your body to store that unnecessary energy as fat!
Changing the duration of planned fasting.
If you regularly 24-hour fast on workdays change it up by throwing a 36 or 48 hour fast in there once or twice a month.
This will allow you to dine in on your stored fat by burning fat for energy like our body has been designed to do.
I have fasted Sunday evening into Tuesday morning (36 hour) or Wednesday morning (48 hour) because that works with my work schedule. I ensure my fasting success by keeping hydrated, staying busy, having my husband cook his own meals and keeping out of the kitchen so I don’t tempt myself. I find a good broth with sodium helps along with lots of warm tea (green and peppermint) and coffee.
As with any fast, if you develop nausea it is time to eat!
Experiment with these meal number and timing techniques and find out how they work for you. Let’s keep our REE guessing and the weight loss going!