If you really want to lose weight, you need to eat 6 small meals a day. And you never want to skip breakfast! Right? Well, that is what I was told my whole life. In fact, fairly recently I did a review (audio) on Chris Powell’s book, Choose to Lose: The Seven Day Carb Cycle Solution. In that book, he advocates six small meals a day. I followed it for a while and I lost weight!
Well the truth is I lost a little weight. And the reason I lost it was not because the diet was so great. Rather it was due to the fact that I was on a plateau and it changed things up enough to get my metabolism working again.
The six meal a day plan can work for some of the people some of the time. For example, if you take someone who is eating a bowl of granola in the morning and/ or a bagel, and switch them to 4 egg whites and half a banana, you will see results. Out of the two, the former is way worse for your blood sugar. So the six meal a day diet can work, but it does not work nearly as well as intermittent fasting (IF).
Why IF Works
There is lots of science regarding IF. I do not have the time to go into all of it here. However, I will quickly mention that the reason it works is that it allows your body to tap into your fat reserves. Your body only runs on two types of fuel–sugar and fat. When you eat 3 or 6 times a day you are fueling your body with sugar and training your body to prefer to run on sugar.
However, when you go without food for a significant period of time, you use up all your sugar. The only fuel left for your body to run on is fat. And in fact, your body runs better on fat than sugar. And the more often you run on fat, the more your body wants to run on fat preferentially.
There are lots of big words I could have used to explain the above paragraphs, but it really is that simple. If you do not have sugar in your body, you will run on fat.
But what about starvation mode? If you have been led to believe that 3-6 meals is the way to go, and that you should never skip breakfast, you may have also heard of the dreaded “starvation mode.” This is the belief that if you do not keep feeding your body every 2 hours or so you will store fat instead of burn it. Why? Because (they say) your body thinks it is going though a famine and will want to hang onto fat.
The fact of the matter is that this is simply not true. In order for your body to go into “starvation mode,” you have to go without food for a few days. But even then, you will eventually start losing weight. So do not fear. Going without breakfast, or even going without food for a day, will not not make you gain weight!
There are many IF programs to choose from. In the next article, I will list them and let you know which protocol I chose to lose nearly 20 pounds in about a month!