Back-loading calories…what does that mean? What does that look like in a typical day? This usually entails eating the majority of your calories and food in the later 1/3 of your day. Prime example: Breakfast is coffee on the run with 1 packet of sugar and a splash of half and half. Lunch is not until 1:00 in the afternoon and hunger pangs have set in, but you tell yourself you should stick with the salad and grilled chicken and vegetables (dressing on the side). You’ve got a meeting at 4:00 and pastries or cookies are served as a kind “gesture.” Two cookies later and you are now exhausted after a long day at work and the thought of working out goes down the drain. Dinner consists of going down the street to the nearest Chinese restaurant where portions are extreme, but it is hard to “save the rest for tomorrow.” All of the to-go white boxes are empty by the time they hit the trash can. It is now 10:00 pm and most of the food and calories consumed throughout the day was at 4:00 pm and later. Back-loading calories and food.
Even though this example may seem a little on the extreme side, too often individuals actually practice the concept of back-loading on a consistent basis. Is this you? Do you back-load your calories most days of the week? What days are you typically eating most of your food in the later 1/3 of your day? Here are some simple strategies to help you change this habit around:
- Have breakfast within 1 hour of waking up. We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day—we are literally “breaking the fast.” Even if you are NOT hungry, try your best to get in some quality whole foods within that first 60 minutes. This could be a hard-boiled egg, banana and small yogurt.
- Eat every 3-4 hours. Whether this is a snack or a larger meal, make sure to have something to keep your resting metabolism at a higher rate throughout the entire day. One reason guests are so successful here (when it comes to weight loss & weight management) is there is structure to the day—there is no thinking involved…they stick to the meal plan and trust it will work for them. Practice this at home, on vacations, during business trips, etc.
- Listen to your body and Honor your hunger. If it is 9:00 pm at night and you are physically hungry (not emotionally hungry), feed yourself. If it is 10:00 am and you feel starved and ready for lunch, ask yourself if you had breakfast and if it was enough? Maybe you didn’t give yourself a protein source in the morning or maybe it was a low fiber breakfast?? Honor that hunger by having a snack such as plain greek yogurt & berries then wait another hour or two to have the lunch you pre-pared the night before.
Set yourself up for success by eating throughout the day. Everyone at home has different schedules, lives and workout plans—everyone is busy in their own way. However, find a routine that will work for you and remember the timing of your food intake can sometimes be just as important as what you eat and how much of that food is consumed.