Start eating early in the day and eat your last meal at least two or three hours before bedtime

Ideally, you should begin eating early (6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. or earlier), so you can fit in five to six meals and your last meal falls two to three hours prior to going to sleep. If you sleep in and miss your first meal or wait until late morning or early afternoon to start eating, you're leaving a gaping hole between meals. This gap can be 1620 hours long if you haven't eaten since six or seven the night before. This sends you into starvation mode and causes an incredibly catabolic (muscle-wasting) state.

Yes, this means you must become a morning person if you're not one already. Brian Tracy, one of the world's leading experts on personal achievement said, "In my studies of successful people over the years, I have never found any highly successful person who was a late riser." Get up early and start eating early! If you work third shift, then you should simply eat meal one whenever you wake up and arrange your meals so you eat every three waking hours, even if that's during the wee hours of the morning.

Not all nutritionists and exercise physiologists agree on the theory of eating less at night for fat loss. Real-world results however, have proven this is a tried and true technique. Calorie tapering is accepted and embraced by nearly every successful competitive bodybuilder and fitness competitor in the world. But don't just take my word for it; here's what two of the most respected bodybuilding experts in the world have to say about it:

"Bodybuilders are some of the leanest people on Earth. In an attempt to shed every ounce of excessive fat, bodybuilders often stop eating late at night. Specifically, many will reduce their carbohydrate intake as the day progresses in hope that more fat will be lost. My experience has shown that eating carbohydrates at night, under certain circumstances, cause you to store calories as fat."

-Chris Aceto, author of "Everything You Need to Know about Fat Loss"

"I strongly recommend moving the last intake for the day as far away from bedtime as you can. 3-4 hours is ideal, but at least 2-3. This increases the length of the "fast" which in reality nighttime is - broken by breakfast. Using this method consistently is one of the most effective ways to lower body fat - and it doesn't take a lot of effort."

- Ian King, author of "Get Buffed"

Although many scientists reject the "eat less at night" theory, there are some very logical and scientific reasons why it works:

1. You are less active at night and are burning fewer calories

2. Your metabolism is slowest while you are sleeping

3. You will release more insulin at night compared to in the morning

4. Your glycogen stores are fuller after a day of eating so you are more likely to store excess carbohydrate as fat instead of storing it as muscle glycogen

So, with our slight adjustment for a smaller evening meal and a larger first meal, our sample day might look like this:

Men/2400 calories/six meals:

Women/1500 calories/5 meals

Meal 1: 500

Meal 1

375

Meal 2: 400

Meal 2

300

Meal 3: 400

Meal 3

300

Meal 4: 400

Meal 4

300

Meal 5: 400

Meal 5

These are simplified examples, of course. Actual calorie amounts will seldom be such precise round figures. You can also taper your calories gradually with each meal as the day goes on, although that makes for some extra number crunching. The most important part of the calorie tapering method is to make breakfast your largest meal and eat sparingly at night, allowing at least three hours before you go to bed.

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