General Diet Plans and Questions General diet questions, support for various diet plans other than those listed below.

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Old 02-01-2003, 09:35 AM   #1  
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Default Mini meals?

I have a question for you all. I have been reading a lot that people are saying that you shoudl eat 5-6 mini meals a day. It supposed to be good for your metabolism. But they say" well I was never hungry". Isn't that kind of counter reproductive? Your not teaching your body to know what hunger is? A friend of mine said that you could drink a glass of 100% juice if you were not really hungry. She also pointed out that sometimes you cut so much out that when you hit a platuea there is no more to pull out so to speak. Her theory is that the mini meals help this also. I hate to say it but I don't really trust her advice because she has never had an ounce of fat on her a day in her life. She needs to gain weight! I just wanted to know what others think about this thanks!

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Old 02-01-2003, 05:34 PM   #2  
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Basically - it all comes down to metabolism. I know this sounds totally weird but if you're trying to lose bodyfat, it is NOT a good idea to be hungry!

Ya see, your body is pretty smart. If you're hungry - your body goes into 'starvation mode' - it will hang onto its fat for dear life and -guess what?-start burning LEAN tissue (i.e. muscle).

Krista Scott Dixon has a great article on her Krista Smash! website titled "Why Diets Don't Work" - check it out:
In terms of cultural history, there has never before been a society like ours in North America. We sit in the midst of plenty, yet we obsess about starving ourselves. Our supermarket shelves groan under the weight of every conceivable kind of food, yet it is considered grossly self-indulgent to consume too much of it.

Our cravings are not proudly declared, but furtive, embarrassed: we cram a fudge brownie or two on the sly, we make midnight runs to the convenience store for Oreos, we secretly fantasize about cheesecake.

All the while we lament our lack of willpower, our inability to stay "on a diet", our ballooning midsections. We say that we hate Ally McBeal for being so skinny, but privately we know we would walk over broken glass to spend even an hour in a slender body, because that is what our culture values.

With these contradictory messages it's easy to see why so many people have very complicated feelings around food, fat, and dieting. We are encouraged to buy products to solve our problems. We think that if we simply acquire the right diet, then we will find the solution that will not only make us slimmer, but will better our relationships, improve our career, and generally increase our quality of life. And, as suits our culture of fast food and drive-thru everything, we want everything to be easy and we want it to be convenient. The latest garbage products on the market, brought to you through the magic of the infomercial, are Fat Trapper and Exercise in a Bottle. The first one claims to allow you to eat junk and get skinny, and the second one claims to do all that nasty exercising for you. Thus, you don't have to do make any effort at all: the product does it all for you (both of these products are useless junk, in case you were wondering; check out the crap list).

Well, welcome to your new mantra: you have to do it yourself. Because nobody else, and no product or commercial diet, will do it for you. This isn't to say that you are on your own here; this site is designed to offer you nutritional, supplemental, and fitness support, written by someone who has been in your shoes. But, you must know the awful truth: ain't no quick fix for a long-term problem. And all the infomercials and "7-Minutes-A-Day-To-Firmer-Abs" products are not going to change this. The only thing that gets lighter with those products is your wallet.

Having said that, I know that there is a prevailing mentality in our culture that fat equals failure. If you are fat, so the story goes, you lack willpower, you are lazy, you are stupid or low-class, blah blah blah. Now, anyone who's ever yo-yo dieted their way up to obesity will tell you it's not about willpower or intelligence. In fact for some people it's the rigid obsession with control over eating and food that has resulted in eating disorders and an excess of bodyfat. For many people, food has a connection to emotions and psychology. People eat to feel better, they eat to replace something in their lives that is missing, they eat because food is the only friend that never lets them down. I acknowledge that, and applaud every reader who has stumbled across this site and is taking the first step towards building a more positive relationship with food and their bodies. The journey will be hard, but at least you've got the motor running and are pulling out of the driveway.

Now, before you read any further I want you to collect all the diet products you have in your house (we'll work on weeding out the exercise junk later). That means Slim Fast, Herbalife, diuretics, laxatives, anything with the word "Jenny Craig" on it, Weight Watchers, chromium picolinate, dieter's tea, etc. Put them all in a big garbage bag. Then send it to the garbage dump where it belongs (you're welcome to take a flame thrower to them if you like... no fate is too awful for those poisons). Go ahead. I'll wait. And don't forget the Dexatrim you have stashed in the medicine cabinet.

Phew. See, you've already lost a few pounds of stuff that's no good for you. OK, let me explain briefly while diets don't work.

Many diet products do not help the body lose fat. They are generally just diuretics, which means they make the body dump water, and/or laxatives, and we all know what those are. Dieter's tea, for example, is just a fancy diuretic and laxative (often it contains senna, a powerful herbal laxative), and herein lies the very real danger. Your body needs water to function, and it needs to keep certain minerals (often known as electrolytes), such as potassium and sodium, in balance to perform nearly all metabolic activities. But when you force it to rid itself of the water it needs, or to excrete too quickly, it can upset the delicate balance of your body's minerals. Several people have died from products like the dieter's tea because the diuretic and laxative combination threw their electrolyte balance out so badly that the heart wasn't able to get the signals across its cell membranes, and it didn't know how or when to beat properly. So it shut down. Another danger in laxatives is that the natural peristaltic action (rhythmic muscular contractions) of the intestines is disrupted. If laxative use continues for too long, the intestinal muscles atrophy and lose their ability to move the food through, which leads to all kinds of intestinal distress such as constipation and blockages. Very unpleasant! It may seem like weight is lost in the short term with these products, but all that's being tossed overboard is water and improperly digested food, not fat.

However, here is the main problem with dieting in general, and bear with me through a long explanation (the conclusion is short and sweet, honest... it just takes some explaining to get there). Your body uses several sources of fuel for energy, and it uses them in a certain order of preference. So, the fuel used to sprint for 30 seconds is not the same fuel used in the second hour of a marathon. Believe it or not, your body is quite stingy about burning stored bodyfat for fuel. It would rather break down your muscle and lean tissue first. When people drastically reduce their calories, as in most crash diets, the body first turns to muscle breakdown to make up the difference. The same thing happens in most cases of caloric reduction where exercise is not performed in conjunction with dieting. In other words, if you diet without exercising, or if you diet too stringently, your body eats through its muscle tissue.

Why is this a bad thing? Well, besides the fact that you feel weak and crummy, muscle is a very metabolically active tissue. You need to actually expend energy to keep your muscle healthy. Think of the difference between muscle and fat as the difference between orchids and cacti. An orchid has to be fussed over and carefully maintained, while you can pretty much leave cacti to fend for itself. So, if you don't provide your muscles with enough caloric nourishment, and if you don't encourage them to grow with exercise, then they'll be like an orchid in Death Valley. But that fat will stay there with only minimal encouragement. When it comes to maintaining a healthy metabolism, muscle is thus fundamental to keeping the body chugging along. If muscle is reduced, so is metabolic rate. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolic rate. This is why bodybuilders' daily food intake would make an elephant jealous: they need lots of food to feed their metabolically active muscle.

Most of us have heard about the starvation response. This occurs when the body perceives that it has not been fed enough to meet its needs for too long a period, as would be the case in a crash diet lasting more than a couple of days. It compensates by lowering its basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the rate at which it burns calories throughout the day. Think of the BMR as the "idling speed" of your body. If your BMR drops, then your body burns calories more slowly, which means that once you go "off" the diet and begin eating normally, your body will more readily deposit bodyfat. This is the principle behind yo-yo dieting. But what most people don't know about the starvation response is the connection between BMR and muscle tissue.

The short and sweet conclusion I promised? Drastic diets or diets without exercise chew through muscle. Less muscle means lower BMR. Lower BMR means eventually putting on more bodyfat in the long run. This is the number one reason why conventional diets do not work. It has nothing to do with willpower. There are other reasons why diets don't work, but I'll discuss them in another article.

And that goes for the lowfat mania of the late 1980s and 1990s. Lowering fat seemed like a simple equation: no fat in, no fat on the body. Well, it doesn't work out that way. In fact, your body needs fat, and the right kind of fat can actually help you lose bodyfat. It sounds crazy, but it's true. I used to be a devoted Dr. Ornish fan (it didn't seem to occur to me that I was still heavy while eating nearly no fat at all) , and I thought it was nutty when I first heard about it too. But the more research I did, the more I became convinced that the nutrition gurus were on to something. You can read more about good fats here. During the lowfat hysteria, all kinds of fat-free products were put on the market, and people took that to mean that fat-free meant healthy. What people didn't realize is that the processed sugars and starches in these so-called healthy products were the real culprits. In another article I discuss the role of simple carbohydrates (sugars and starches) in bodyfat deposition, and explain why it's likely not the fat in your diet, but rather the carbs in your diet that are the problem.

Now that I've depressed everyone, let me tell you what does work. What does work is mild, long-term caloric restriction, and the proper combination of macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates, and protein), combined with weight training and cardiovascular exercise. While it is simple once you understand the basics, it's not a quick fix. It likely took you a long time to get to the weight you are at, so it will take a while to reduce bodyfat and gain muscle. But that's OK. Small, slow changes are lasting changes. What you must make is a commitment to your body and to a change in lifestyle. And you have to do it yourself.
Another thing to keep in mind is CRAVINGS. Generally, when folks 'go on a diet' i.e. a starvation diet, they get so hungry they start wanting to eat everything in sight (especially bad if you have the Food Network on cable!). Eventually the cravings are going to win...the beauty of 5-6 small meals a day is that you're keeping your tummy satisfied and the cravings at a minimum.

One thing I'm curious about is your query "You're not teaching your body to know what hunger is?" I'm just wondering why you believe that it is necessary for your body to know what hunger is...because hunger leads to cravings and cravings lead to binging IMO...

Hope that helps a bit!
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Old 02-01-2003, 10:29 PM   #3  
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Mrs Jim, Thanks for the advice. I have seen your posts on other threads and you seem to know your stuff. I did want to say though. I hope it didn't come across like I would ever starve myself. But I don't think letting myself get a little hungry is all bad and then eating. I don't want to say that I always have or I don't ever go crazy.But I can usually eat to the point where I am full again and not go overboard. Well I guess I should say when I am concious of my actions. In the past I have ate large quantities of food because I didn't care and I wanted to. Which has gotten me to where I am now. I am much more aware of myself now and was trying to learn when I am really hungry verses bored or on a time clock. My big concern with the mini meals was just feeling like you had to eat when you were not hungry because its time to. I understand I guess what they are saying but it still conerns me a little. I am afraid the mini meals is actually something I would eventually give up on. I feel like teaching my body to nowwhen it needs food might be better? I look forward to see what others may have to say. Thanks again
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Old 02-07-2003, 10:38 AM   #4  
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Mini-meals does not have to be near as complicated as it may sound. It is actually a much better way of eating for your metabolism and your blood sugar. A lot of people skip breakfast or lunch, and then load up at dinnertime-it is much healthier to eat regular meals and snacks, eating the same calories throughout the day.
I would consider what I do eating mini-meals. It is not like you have to cook yourself a meal every two hours-it is really just that you eat smaller meals, just more often. I don't do it religiously 6 meals a day-or at exact times. I just eat a smaller breakfast-like a slice of toast with peanut butter, and then have a snack of a banana or a cup of flavored yogurt a couple of hours later. This helps keep your blood sugar stabilized-when you are starving and your blood sugar gets low, it is the bodie's natural reaction to crave sugary things to quickly get it back up-which is where the afternoon binging on cookies can come in!
Some days I can eat 4 times, others 6 or 7-it all depends on how my body feels that day. You are never starving this way, and your metabolism runs more smoothly, because you are getting small amounts of food regularly. You DO get hungry before meals, but you are never starving-so you are less likely to binge. All of the meals do not have to be equal-I usually have three small meals plus a couple healthy snacks inbetween-rather than saving all my calories for dinner like some dieters do.
Your friend's advice is good-and if she has always ate this way naturally, there may be a reason why she has never had a weight problem. This is one of the traits of a "naturally thin person."
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Old 02-08-2003, 11:18 PM   #5  
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I have a VERY slow metabolism from age, meds and bad dieting habits over the years. The diet that I'm on recommends following the 6 mini meal program. I started it last summer and I have to say it made quite a difference. You're never really full and never really hungry - just sort of this "limbo" feeling which is a bit wierd at first until you realize how bad feeling stuffed makes you feel - especially if you haven't eaten in a long time and you are starving and attack your plate. This was easier to deal with when I was working from home, and yes sometimes you do eat not because your hungry but because a few hours have passed and it's time to have something. I agree with what the others have said, you don't eat more food, you just stretch it out over the day and eat much less at a "meal" - might be 2 oz of protein, a few carb grams and a 1/2 serving of fruit.

In the fall when I had to go back to the office, I found it was really hard to stick with the 6 meals. I'd get busy and forget to eat at the right times. When I went back to the more traditional 3 meals a day, my weight loss stalled again. I really believe the mini meals are the right way to go and I am desperately trying to get back to them again.

I also have a problem in that when I get home from work and start supper, I am ravenous and tempted to nibble at things I shouldn't. I find that if I have a yogurt or piece of fruit around 4pm, I still am looking for something when I get home but it's more habit than hunger and I'm able to avoid the temptations.
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Old 02-23-2003, 07:03 AM   #6  
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I would suggest that if you want to try it, you try 5-6 meals a day, eating every two to three hours. If your meals are made up of good protein and high glycemic carbs, you should fell the "anti hunger" effect in about 6-10 days. The first few days you might feel ravenous but then the hunger will actually disappear. It's amazing.
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