In this blog post, I will discuss the interval between consecutive meals to increase the efficiency of fat loss.
This, not some regular post in which I talk about how you should workout to get rid of fat but in this post, I will try and bust the myth that eating 5 to 6 meals a day can help boost our metabolism and reduce body fat.
I will first talk about how long it takes to digest the food and then discuss what happens when we make our body work longer without food.
Different Phases of Digestion
Digestion starts in the mouth where our saliva breaks down the food for quicker processing of the food by the body. Then with the help of the esophagus, the food travels down to our stomach.
When it reaches the stomach, the food is then mixed with acid and enzymes which breaks it down to a liquid or paste. It then travels to the small intestine where most of the absorption of nutrients takes place. The digestive enzymes from the pancreas make the process of digestion quicker and more efficient by breaking down fats, protein, and carbohydrate.
And then the defecation process takes place to excrete the waste from the body. Although this mechanical process is the same for us all but the time it takes to digest the food is different for all of us.
It depends on factors like what you eat, amount of plant-based food, fats, carbs. So to tell exactly how much time it takes for digestion is not possible. But, it is known that absorption of food starts after two hours. This leads us to the next portion of my discussion.
Insulin and Glucagon
While the pancreas is responsible for synthesizing important enzymes it also releases insulin in response to the food we consume. The main function of insulin is to stabilize the blood glucose levels and help in the absorption of nutrients by the body. It makes sure that you absorb amino acids from protein, fatty acids from the fat you consume, and sugar from carbs. So, the belief that insulin levels rise only when people consume high carbs is a myth.
Insulin is always secreted when we are eating. So, when we constantly eat, we make our pancreas secrete more and more insulin. And this results that our body absorbs more and more nutrients constantly. Now, this might seem to be a good thing but if you are willing to lower the fat percentage of your body you might not want your body to constantly absorb nutrients but tap into the unused nutrients in the body that has been stored before. When you burn stored fuel sources you ultimately lose fat and look and feel better. When we are constantly eating, we raise the insulin levels and we start feeling bloated. However, this can be fixed with the release of glucagon from the pancreas. Glucagon is also a hormone released in the pancreas and can be considered the counterpart of insulin. The main function of glucagon is to break glycogen to glucose in the liver. And it helps in converting the stored nutrients like fat in the body to fatty acids so that it can be used by the body for energy. So, if we want to use stored fat we need to maintain a balance between insulin and glucagon. For the glucagon to be released the insulin levels should be dropped. And if we keep eating constantly we never get the chance for the pancreas to secrete glucagon. And we never use the stored fat as energy source.
Calories in Calories out
People these days have this notion that to lose fat you only need to focus on a calorie deficit. Which is partially true but partially wrong. Now, being on a calorie deficit diet will help you lose weight but you never know if you will lose muscle weight or fat weight. And trust me you don’t want to lose muscle weight. This is where things get little tricky. So, I decided to take a look over some studies done and I found a very interesting study published in 2014 in a journal named Diabetologia. This study was done on 54 participants including men and women. They went through two different diets B2(two meals a day) and A6(6 meals a day). Half of the participants were randomly selected for B2 regimen and the half for A6 regimen. It was noted that after 8 weeks those who were allocated in the B2 regimen lost 8.1 pounds of weight as compared to those who were following the A6 regimen who lost only 5.7 pounds. Now, things got more interesting when it concluded that B2 regimen resulted in a greater reduction in HFC(Hepatic Fat Content, which is an indicator of fatty liver). Again, it also concluded that the Fasting Plasma Glucose was more efficiently decreased in B2 regimen. And insulin sensitivity increased for people having 2 meals a day, and by increased insulin sensitivity it means when the insulin spikes it absorbs more nutrients. Meaning you will have more control over the effect of the food you consume. So, the study made it clear how taking intervals between meals benefit the body. That being said, to understand how it will affect us in the long term we need to look at from another perspective. So, when I said people have this notion of calories in calories out they are partially wrong, I meant by tweaking our Bioenergetics. Bioenergetics is the process of utilizing and transforming energy. If we can tweak our bioenergetics to utilize fat as an energy source, the results can be great. So, when we take long intervals between our meals, we can make our mitochondria to utilize fat as a source of energy. And doing this can make our diets and results more efficient and even sustainable. And this works even when our diet contains carbohydrates and protein. So, even when we are not able to undergo intermittent fasting, taking long intervals can help us get more efficient results. You can start by taking 2-3 meals a day by skipping the snacks in between your lunch and dinner, or breakfast and lunch or wait for 5-6 hours between meals. It’s your body and you are responsible to keep it healthy. And if this post helped you learn something, please do subscribe to our email list of 3000 readers. I will love to have you back on my blog.
- The Absorption of Food by the Human Body