Thursday, April 17, 2008

Don't skip it

Skipping meals might seem like a good idea sometimes. If you don't eat breakfast, the thought goes, you can have more at lunchtime and you won't have eaten too much overall. Or conversely, if you had a big breakfast and big lunch, then skipping dinner might make up for that.

But skipping meals isn't the best idea. In fact, it's not a very good idea at all.

I've found that it's better to eat small meals throughout the day than it is to go long stretches of time without eating anything. One of the first things my personal trainer told me way back in March 2006 was to eat small meals each day. That is, eat breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack and dinner. That is five meals in one day but it works if you keep the calories in check.

For instance, a typical day for me:

Breakfast: Special K breakfast bar (180 calories), water
Snack: Apple (70 calories)
Lunch: Turkey sandwich, chips, water (400-500 calories)
Snack: Granola bar (180 calories)
Dinner: Chicken, rice, water (450-500 calories)

That's about 1400 calories, maybe more. If I get to dinner with that few calories, I might indulge and put some cheese on my chicken or something to the effect. Hell, I might even go for a second helping of rice. Yup, that's me going crazy.

Anyway, I try to shoot for 1600-1800 per day, but no more than that. I'll mix in one serving of milk (which isn't a whole lot) in the morning sometimes if I know I'll have calories to spare that day. Milk has about 120 calories per serving - at least the kind I get - and it also has a good amount of protein per serving as well, and that's always nice.

If you skip meals or only eat twice a day, you aren't doing your body any favors. The body works smoother and more efficiently if you eat small meals during the day. It's easier for the body to process food and keep the metabolism high with 5-6 meals than it is with two.

Today, for instance, I had two pieces of toast plus a cup of milk for breakfast. So far that's about 280 calories. For my mid-morning snack I'm thinking about devouring an orange that's been sitting here getting stale. For lunch, I'll have a deli-style sandwich. I've got a baguette that has my name written all over it. After an apple for snack, I'm going to finish the day off with my famed Rhode Island style hot wieners, maybe about three. I'm guessing I'll have about 700-800 calories heading into dinner so I shouldn't have to worry too much about the hot dogs. Three dogs with the meat and stuff will be about 800 calories so I should be fine.

Such a meal plan consisting of small meals requires planning but it's worth it. It's better than skipping meals and then getting so hungry that you make poor choices. And it works better for your body too.

All of this info I gained from having had a personal trainer for about nine months. I've lost more than 120 pounds since my first chat with him so I know this sort of meal plan has worked for me.

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