A popular weight loss meal plan called grazing has been around forever to supposedly help you shed extra pounds permanently. The plan calls for eating small meals throughout the day, instead of three with an occasional snack or two thrown in. It is called grazing because it’s basically how cows, sheep and horses eat.
Well, we are not farm animals and it is time to debunk this diet myth and give you a real weight loss meal plan that actually works for people.
So what exactly is the grazing weight loss meal plan? Grazing to lose weight calls for anyone following the diet plan to basically spend their day eating. Instead of sitting down for breakfast, then lunch and ending the day with dinner, grazers eat a handful of something here, a few bites there, and consume their days’ worth of calories in small amounts more frequently.
The theory of why this would keep you slim is:
- Eating all day keeps you from ever feeling hungry and binging
- Eating small snacks frequently revs up your metabolism so it’s always burning calories
- You will get all your nutrients in small doses which are easier to metabolize
Unfortunately, science has proven that people and cows should not eat the same way. What you eat is as important as how much and when you eat it. If you are grazing on chips, chocolate covered raisins, French fries and chicken wings, you are likely going to gain weight.
The British Journal of Nutrition published a study that found participants who ate six times a day, and those who at the same amount of calories only three times a day did not have greater weight loss. It turns out calories are calories, and this is true whether you eat them in a few sittings or throughout the day.
Related: The Benefits of an Alkaline Diet
The Hazards of Grazing
So the bad news is that grazing will not help you lose weight. There is even worse news. A grazing weight loss meal plan could be detrimental to your health.
Medical research is now finding that eating constantly puts stress on your liver and raises your blood glucose levels. These physical reactions to constantly metabolizing food all day actually encourages fat storage and could lead to diabetes, high cholesterol and all the health problems linked to those conditions.
Research is also finding that eating throughout the day does not mean you feel less hungry, and in fact the opposite is true according to a 2011 study published in Obesity. Obese dieters reported feeling more full when they consumed three large high-protein meals per day, especially late at night, than those who ate six smaller meals with less protein per day.
Fasting for Real Weight Loss Results
While eating constantly will not help you shed pounds, the opposite might. Metabolic fasting, or intermittent fasting, is proving to be a very efficient way to keep your hunger at bay, reduce food cravings for sugar or high fat foods, lower cholesterol and help you lose weight long-term.
Metabolic fasting is different from plain fasting, which if not done correctly can be unhealthy in numerous ways. When you fast, as in eat nothing and only drink water for several days, your metabolism comes to screeching halt as your body goes into survival mode. You are deprived of essential nutrients you need to keep other bodily systems functioning and leave yourself vulnerable to illness.
Metabolic fasting however calls for you to eat normally one day and then slash calories the next day, the fast day, to about a quarter of what you would normally eat. This helps you lose weight in several ways:
- It’s a weight loss meal plan you can actually stick with since you are not going to feel constantly deprived
- You put your body into fat burning mode when you cut out carbohydrates
- You will be more selective of what you eat to get in the optimal nutrients (sorry-no binging on junk food in this diet either, darn it!)
- Research shows those who fast intermittently tend to have lower cholesterol, blood pressure and reduced inflammation in the body
It most likely took years to put on the weight you want to lose, so it is unrealistic to think a fasting weight loss meal plan will work a miracle overnight, but if you commit to it and follow a sensible eating plan with exercise you will have much more success. Plus, unlike grazers, your life won’t revolve around food and when you are going to eat your next meal. Being busy living instead of eating is a healthier way of life for everyone.