With intermittent fasting having gained increasing popularity over the last couple of years, many have started skipping breakfast and not eating regularly throughout the day. While intermittent fasting has proved benefits, it is not suitable for everyone. Continue reading to learn why you may benefit from a regular eating pattern.
Blood sugar levels are largely influenced by your eating pattern. The goal is for the blood sugar to increase after meals and go down several hours after eating, resulting in a pattern of a gentle wave. Not eating for extended periods throughout the day can lead to a blood sugar dip, which is characterised by fatigue, irritability, headaches and light-headedness.
Low blood sugar triggers a stress response in the body and signals that you should stock up the body’s food stores. This often manifests as intense cravings for foods that should be but are hard to be consumed in moderation. These are foods with intense flavours, high in fat, sugar and salt. Not only do they leave you hungrier than before due to the way they are manufactured and the ingredients that are used, these kinds of foods can also negatively affect your morale due to overconsumption.
After an episode of indulgence, the blood sugar levels spike, which triggers a release of insulin in higher amounts in order to stabilise it. You may feel a sudden energy slump, tempting you to nibble on something once again. This can lead to a yo-yo effect of the blood sugar levels spiking up and down very prominently, which over the long term can raise the risk of developing type II diabetes. Regular meals mean reduced cravings, which reduces the chances of overeating at the next meal.
No yo-yo in blood sugar levels often means no yo-yo dieting. This is because when cravings are controlled and there is no urge to overeat, portion sizes are more controlled. Also, there is no guilt attached, so the likelihood of skipping meals to compensate for overeating and further exacerbating the problem is reduced. The body is not put under stress neither due to hunger nor due to overeating. It can therefore feel calm and ready to only absorb what it needs from food, rather than saving everything in preparation for another “starvation” period. This can lead to improved relationship with food and balanced weight.
When you eat regularly and your blood sugar is stable, your energy levels are more stable throughout the day. No fatigue and brain fog due to not eating and no sleepiness after overeating.
To avoid prominent blood sugar spikes and dips, energy slumps, cravings, feeling hangry and overeating, having a regular meal pattern is very important. It is recommended to have three regular meals per day with a snack between each meal, if needed, to break up large gaps in between eating. You should aim for your meals to be spaced out every 4-5h. This could look like this:
12pm lunch time
4pm afternoon snack
11am mid-morning snack
1-2pm lunch time
6pm early dinner
11am mid-morning snack
1pm lunch time
5pm afternoon snack
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