I work with women every day who are doing everything that they believe is right- and yet they aren't getting the progress and results that they want or deserve. But why? There are many possible reasons for this- but one of the most common that I see is not fueling their bodies with the appropriate nutrition and not taking meals breakfast or lunch seriously!
Are you frequently replacing breakfast with a quick coffee as you head out the door? Or have you cut down on to "lower calorie" options for breakfast and lunch in order to kick start your weight loss? I work with many people who say that they aren't big breakfast eaters then go lighter on lunch to cut calories, and find that they need multiple cups of milky coffee or snacks to get them through the morning and afternoon. Often the lack of fuel that the body receives throughout the day leads to evening sugar cravings and binge eating.
Recently I worked with a woman who was doing exactly this- skipping breakfast, drinking coffee all morning, then eating 2-3 cruskits with marmite and tomato for lunch. Of course - this is a really low calorie option and is promoted as such, but it doesn't provide you with much else! This same client of mine would then find that 30-60 minutes after lunch she was hungry, unable to focus, and her tummy was rumbling. Some days she would push through the afternoon by drinking milky cups of tea and eating fruit- whereas other days she would cave and grab a packet of chips or a muffin to get through the afternoon. Regardless of how the afternoon went- she would end up eating a large portion of her evening meal then snacking throughout the night before hopping into bed feeling frustrated at herself for lacking willpower.
When I worked with her as part of my womens wellness package- she said that she thinks she knows what to do but just doesn't have the willpower to stick to this low calorie diet! The truth here is that weight loss and "sticking to a diet" is nothing to do with willpower at all! If your diet isn't structured appropriately for you to allow for sustainable weight loss- then it's really likely that you'll experience afternoon hunger and cravings leading to out of control binge eating. When I tweaked her diet to spread her carbohydrates and calories more appropriately and increase the size of her breakfast and lunch meals- not only did she feel alot better, but she also started to lose weight!
So why should we take breakfast and lunch seriously? Here are four reasons why this is important:
1. Your nutrition will be on track
Without planning a balanced breakfast and lunch for the day- you are setting yourself up for energy crashes and likely training your body to completely ignore your hunger cues. If we skip meals or choose really low calorie options then we often end up eating more processed, quick, convenience foods later to fill us up that are less nutritionally dense than our homemade options. It is this nutrient imbalance that can leave us tired, craving sugar and overeating for the remainder of the day.
2. You will move more
If we all weren't so sedentary - then our country wouldn't have such high rates of long term health conditions and it would be ALOT easier to lose weight. The average New Zealander takes only 3,000 steps per day- which is nowhere near the ideal 10,000! To ensure that our body is getting enough movement to counteract the time we spend sitting- aim for at least 10,000 steps/ day. Taking lunch seriously and setting aside 30-60 minutes to take a decent break away from your screen will help alot in achieving this. It also aids in blood flow and digestion- meaning that a post lunch walk is likely to improve any afternoon bloating or gastrointestinal discomfort that you might be experiencing.
3. You will be more productive
By eating a balanced breakfast and lunch- your brain and body receive the fuel that they need for optimal energy throughout the day. The recommended dietary pattern for weight loss and energy is to consume most of our calories in the first half of the day- then go lighter at dinner time. This makes sense given that we are the most physically and mentally active during the day, then our circadian rhythm winds us down for sleep in the evening. This not only gives our bodies opportunity to burn fuel efficiently, it also means that our brains are able to think and function optimally when we need it the most. It also means that we are more likely to exercise, and to have the energy to prepare a healthy evening meal.
4. Your overall day of eating will be lighter and better balanced for weight loss
When your macronutrients and calories are distributed appropriately- you end up craving sugar less, feeling more satisfied from your meals, and allow your body to efficiently utilize nutrients. You are less likely to snack on discretionary food items and more likely to see the body fat loss that you desire. Often clients tell me in amazement that they feel as though they are eating more- yet the scales keep coming down. This is because when you eat a balanced meal, your body won't produce hunger hormones and the fibre content will ensure that you are full and satisfied.
If you are a routine meal skipper or frequently struggle with sugar cravings or weight loss plateaus- then it's likely that your diet needs a tweak. Book in for a 1:1 consultation with me and I will take the hard work out of it for you.