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Old 08-16-2012, 10:02 PM   #1  
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Default Is this way of eating going to hurt my metabolism?

I've tried so many ways of breaking up my meals, and I'm just not a snack person. I've got no time at work to snack. I'm not hungry after dinner. If I eat before working out I get sick. Snacks just don't really fit into my life, unless it's a small bit of almonds or an apple, but it's still hard to fit it in. I have read so much about the benefits of 5 smaller meals, but that just doesn't fit into my life or schedule (or how my body wants to eat). When I was heavier, I just kind of ate constantly, with big meals and lots of snacks. The only way I seem to lose weight is eating like this:

Breakfast - relatively large. I'm starving when I wake up, so I vary what I eat. Ezekiel bread with pb and banana, oatmeal with cinnamon and a side of egg whites, big bowl of organic cereal and almond milk with fruit, plain greek yogurt with granola, etc. About 300-500 calories usually.

Lunch - smallest meal of my day, if I even eat. I will have some carrots and hummus or a small salad. Maybe some almonds and cheese in the salad if I feel like it, otherwise just veggies. I get lethargic at work if I eat too big of a lunch, especially heavy protein. Sometimes I'm really not even all that hungry. If I'm really hungry that day I will eat tuna or black beans on my salad.

Dinner - Moderate meal. Protein plus lots of steamed veggies (or salad a lot, especially in summer). Chicken, salmon/fish, ground turkey, tofu, etc. Every once in awhile I'll have whole wheat pasta with veggies or bake some eggplant with cheese, but I try to have lean protein most days. If I want it, I'll have a small dessert of yogurt with fruit (or a bit of pb mixed for apple dip) or a few pieces of dark chocolate.

I usually get in my 3-5 servings of fruits and veggies, but I wonder if I lack protein, but I honestly don't like it that much. I work out 6 days a week doing plyo, running, lifting, etc.
I know EVERYWHERE says do not skip meals, but if I'm legitimately not hungry at lunch I don't want to force down food. I probably have been eating around 1300 calories doing this, where before I was in the 1800 range trying to eat many small meals. Obviously I'm losing a lot faster, and I'm legitimately hungry at dinner, so when I eat the healthy food I get full and don't need to snack later. I'm not hungry or miserable during the day. This is how I used to eat in high school when I was a bit smaller than my current goal.

Is this going to slow my metabolism? Or make me lose muscle tissue? Or any of those other horrific things I read about on the internet? I don't seem to want to binge this way either, unless I really let myself get too hungry by eating a small breakfast and skipping lunch. My body seems to like this way of eating, so if it's not doing something harmful, I'm just going to continue to goal.

Edited to add: On the weekends I eat slightly more, about 1500-1800 calories. I am more active then so I do get hungrier midday, and I don't have to worry about feeling sluggish because I'm not at work.

Last edited by bellona; 08-16-2012 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 08-16-2012, 10:17 PM   #2  
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Default re:

Any time you're eating at a calorie deficit you're going to probably lose some muscle tissue. You're strength training should help though with maintaining it though.

As for metabolism, and I'm sure there will be a wealth of conflicting information to follow in any posts that follow, as there's a wealth of conflicting information out there.

Here's what I think from what I have read and experienced - and I'm not doctor or nutritionist so take it for what it is. I believe that if you're eating at a calorie deficit, large or small, your metabolism can slow down and does for many people losing weight. Your metabolism doesn't stop all together.

Skipping meals isn't necessarily bad. I always think, if you're not hungry, don't eat - as long as it doesn't make you completely starving later and you've eaten enough calories in total. There's some people on this forum that practice something like that with intermittent fasting, so you might want to check that sub forum.

Is 1300 calories enough for you? Maybe and maybe not. I've been on 1200 for almost a year now and it seems as if my metabolism has slowed some, but really not too badly. If you feel you have enough energy to complete your exercise programs, don't feel completely wiped out, and don't find yourself starving all the time, I don't see anything wrong with it.
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Old 08-16-2012, 11:00 PM   #3  
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Originally Posted by Vex View Post
... as there's a wealth of conflicting information out there.
Negative. There is only fact and fiction. This particular topic is extremely well researched and meal timing makes no difference to one's metabolism at all.

The answer to the question the OP is asking is a definative no in the context of meal timing.

Having said that as you mention eating a deficit will slow down ones metabolism. Nothing you can do will change this fact except certain drugs all of which I highly reccomend people steer clear of.
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Old 08-16-2012, 11:06 PM   #4  
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I agree with you Vex!
I thought I'd share what my friend's doctor told her: he put her on a 900calories/day diet and told her "don't worry about your metabolism slowing or your body going into 'starvation mode' because that's false." She has since lost over 100 pounds and it's continuing to work for her. I just found this weird because I was always under the assumption that eating too little will make your body hang on to calories and therefore decrease how much you loose.
Anyways, just a thought that went through my mind when I read your comments
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Old 08-17-2012, 07:11 AM   #5  
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Hmm...thanks everyone. I suspected timing didn't make as much of a difference as total calories. I have looked into the IF, but I don't know if that would work for me considering I get hungriest in the mornings and evenings. I guess I could try it and see if my hunger shifts as I get used to it.
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Old 08-17-2012, 07:39 AM   #6  
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I think the problem with drastically restricting calories is that it doesn't necessarily help you learn new habits. For me, calorie counting is about learning to eat pretty much as I always will from now on. I eat between 1,800 and 2,000 calories a day and lose well on that.

I also eat 3 meals a day. I used to snack, but now find I don't need to. Also, I find that snacking is my personal weakness - it's what makes me eat in excess. I can control myself perfectly well when eating a meal, but I can't between meals. I fell foul to this yesterday evening, in fact.

My day looks something like: Breakast (500), Lunch (500), Supper (800), with 200 cals room for maneuver across the day (so, sometimes breakfast might be 600, or supper might be as high as 1,000).

You should just find what works for you. I would caution you against following a diet that causes you to feel hungry or deprived of food you enjoy as this is not sustainable in the long run & may lead to bingeing.
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Old 08-17-2012, 09:10 AM   #7  
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I have to stick with 3 meals a day, no snacks, and my metabolism is just fine.
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Old 08-17-2012, 03:59 PM   #8  
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So far, it looks like concensus! It sounds like you have found something that works for you! Congratulations! Like John said, the only credible study I have seen on the 'starvation myth' says that calorie restriction over a long period of time (say, six months) can impact metabolism negatively. But since you have to restrict calories to lose weight, it's not worth worrying about. Just know that when you get down to goal weight, it might be harder to maintain than someone the same weight who has never struggled with weight.

And don't try IF unless it appeals to you. I think the reference was simply to illustrate how far you can get from 6-meals-per-day and still have great success.
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Old 08-17-2012, 09:04 PM   #9  
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From an article by Martin Berkhan of LeanGains
"Your metabolism doesn’t scavenge amino acids from your muscles after an overnight fast. Fatty acid metabolism is highly up-regulated, but muscle catabolism doesn’t occur in short-term fasting for up to 24 hours. If you’re still paranoid about this (I am), make sure to eat some slowly absorbed protein before bed, such as cottage cheese, egg white protein or meat with veggies (the extra fiber will slow absorption as meat is generally considered a “fast” protein). Another thing to keep in mind is the very slow absorption rate of whole food proteins. We’re talking a few grams per hour, which means that a mixed meal with 40-50 grams of protein will maintain a steady level of amino acids in your bloodstream well through the night and into the next day. The belief that a few hours without food will cause muscle catabolism is absurd.

Metabolic rate does not slow down during short-term fasting. It actually increases slightly. That’s probably the complete opposite from what you’ve heard, but this is an undisputed fact. It takes more than three days without food before metabolic rate is negatively affected via down-regulation of thyroid activity. That skipping breakfast or missing a meal affects metabolic rate, a myth still propagated in the fitness and health community, is ludicrous.

What about those studies showing breakfast is healthy and people that eat breakfast weigh less than breakfast-skippers? Those are all correlational studies. Skipping breakfast is connected to a certain dysregulated eating behavior that predisposes people to weigh more. The Average Joe or Jane breakfast-skipper is the personality type to grab a donut on the way to work, eat junk food for lunch and finish the day off with a big dinner and snack in front of the TV. Those studies have no relevance to the conscious dieter that skips breakfast as a fat loss strategy."


this is talking about the whole skipping breakfast causing all those horrible things magazines claim but holds fast to snacking too.
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Old 08-17-2012, 09:15 PM   #10  
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Eating 5-6 small meals per day works for some people. For me, it just frustrates me because I can eat so little at one time. I like to eat a 300 cal. breakfast, a 3-400 calorie lunch, and a 6-700 calorie dinner. Sometimes I'll have a 100-200 calorie dessert. It's the decent sized dinner that helps me stay on plan though.
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