How Proportions and Nutrient Timing can Benefit your Metabolism

Nutrition is a vast and complex science with so many aspects to consider and often conflicting information depending on what source that you are reading. So, remember that you are the resident expert in your body and if you pay attention to what it is telling you, you will find that diet that works best for you. Regardless of what ‘ style’ you choose, if you pay attention to when and what you eat, it can have a big impact on your overall health, including your energy level, quality of sleep and rate of recovery from workouts.

Today I would like to share some info about how to proportion your plate and the overall timing of when you eat. Much of this information I have gathered from Kathy Abascal’s excellent book called ‘ To Quiet Inflammation’. Her book contains a lot of detailed information and is an awesome resource. I am going to distill down a few of the concepts that I think are particularly interesting and relevant, but if your interest is peaked I encourage you to get her book and or attend one of her class series. Many campers have already benefited from this style of eating – check it out –   http://toquietinflammation.com/

1. EAT BY PROPORTIONS NOT CALORIES

Eat as much as you want but build your plate so that it contains 2/3 fruits and vegetable and 1/3 combined grains and protein.

The vegetables and fruits are densely packed with nutrients and are also loaded with antioxidants and balance the acidifying nature of the grains and protein.

2. EAT EARLY AND STOP EATING 2-3 HOURS BEFORE BEDTIME

Research shows thatt when people wait until later in the day to eat, they eat more calories than if they spread them out over the day. It can be helpful to think of your body like a wood burning furnace – you need to fuel it for your energy needs during the day, not for when you are sleeping.

‘ Eat like a Queen for breakfast, a Princess for lunch and a kitchen hand for dinner’

Kathy Abascal talks at length in her book about the 2 main reasons for not to eating at night- the impact on 2 major hormonal cycles:

  • GROWTH HORMONE – is responsible for growth and repair and helps us maintain muscle mass as we age. As adults we only get one predictable burst of growth hormone and it is at night several hours after we fall asleep. If we eat before going to bed our bodies release insulin which in turns prevents the release of growth hormone. Not good right??!! We work far to hard at camp to build our muscles to make this mistake.
  • LEPTIN – works with the brain to effect appetite and metabolism. It has natural cycles and ideally it is at its peak at night so that we don’t have an appetite and at its lowest in the morning so that we wake hungry and take in fuel for the the day. Unfortunately when we eat later at night this cycle tends to get flipped, and in turn flips our Melatonin cycle ( a hormone that helps you sleep well) . Leaving us sleeping poorly, waking not hungry and then getting sleepy in the afternoon.  Also not a good scenario, but a familiar one I think?

3. EAT OFTEN BUT AVOID GRAZING

By eating 3 meals and 2 snacks a day your glucose levels stay even and you avoid reaching a state of intense hunger when you are apt to over eat and or make poor food choices. However, it is important to avoid grazing all day because each time you eat something your pancreas secretes insulin, and with out time to digest and regulate glucose levels through all the proper channels, your body becomes ‘stuck’ in an insulin state.  Eventually the body becomes insulin resistant and that is a very unhealthy state to live in. It causes the body to store more fat. to create more inflammation (think muscle and joint pain, osteoarthritis)  and it promotes cell growth (favors cancer) and is the precursor to diabetes.

-Contributed by Trainer Stephanie

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