Whenever we talk about a healthy diet and lifestyle, all we remain worried about is what to eat and how much amount to eat. We carefully count calories and portion size read about different diets and food options. But sometimes we tend to forget a crucial factor concerning meal timings. Studies have shown that meal timings have a huge impact on our weight and metabolic rate. When we get up, our metabolic rate is highest. If we do not provide adequate fuel to our body in the morning, we won’t be able to perpetuate our metabolic rate. Hence meal timings are significant for the regulation of our metabolism. Small frequent meal pattern is recommended comprising of three main meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner along with two snack meal (mid-morning and evening snack).
- BREAKFAST – This is the most important meal of the day. It should be the heaviest meal and one should try to include foods from all food groups. It is advisable to eat breakfast between 2 hours of waking up, not late by 9 AM. Studies have shown that breakfast skippers have higher chances of becoming obese and suffer nutritional deficiencies. Prefer combining a low Glycemic Index (GI) carbohydrate-based food along with proteins.
- LUNCH AND DINNER – Eating lunch on time supplies our body with energy, which keeps us going throughout the busiest time of the day. To meet micronutrient needs as well, calories should also come from vegetables. Include salads along with carbs and proteins. Ideally, lunch should be consumed between 1-2 PM and should not be later than 4 PM. Dinner should be the lightest meal of the day. Eating dinners late is one of the biggest dietary mistakes we all usually make. It should not be delayed later than 10 PM as it may affect our bedtime sleep. Protein-based dinner is preferred as they keep full for long and provides required aminos during the recovery phase of the body throughout the night.
- MID-MORNING AND EVENING SNACK – Healthy snacks helps us keep satiated and satisfy our food cravings. A light snack of around 150-200 Kcal can be enjoyed in between main meals. Fruits and salads are perfect to fill as they provide essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. Options like yoghurt, smoothies, nuts and boiled eggs can also be considered due to their high protein content. For example, a person consumes breakfast at 9 AM so a light mid-morning snack can be relished around 11:30 AM and an evening snack between 4-5 PM.
TAKE AWAY IDEAS :
- Avoid eating when you aren’t hungry.
- Avoid laying down immediately after consuming a meal. This is because the acid in our stomach might flow back in the oesophagus and cause damage resulting in heartburn.
- Choose meals that contain a variety of ingredients which are healthy and nutrient-dense.
- If you want to opt for an early morning meal then consider drinking water, herbal tea or lemon water to flush out toxins.
- Avoid late night snacking.
- Avoid tea, coffee and other caffeinated beverages at bedtime.
- Avoid skipping meals as you may end up consuming a larger amount of calories in the next meal consumed.
- Avoid consuming processed, refined, ready-to-eat and junk foods.
- If required make changes in the eating pattern, stick to the new healthy habit for at least 22-30 days, post that you may find it easy to maintain.