Last week, we talked about my 3-meal a day recommendation. This might seem like an extreme way to approach weight loss, but eliminating snacks in between meals is crucial. In this episode, we’ll talk about how snacking is a relatively new construct created by food manufacturers and advertisers.
You might be snacking in ways that haven’t even consciously registered, all while the extra sugar and simple carbs are adding to problems with weight gain.
If you have been overweight for any length of time, you are likely insulin resistant and experience only temporary success with any diet or weight loss program. I’ll break down why your diets have been only moderately successful, and what food combinations and meal-time habits can help reverse these trends.
Listen To The Episode Here:
In Today’s Episode, You’ll Learn:
- A history of the snacking concept and why this is detrimental to your weight loss efforts.
- How the weight set-point that exists in our brains works to maintain our current weight.
- Actions you can take to control insulin levels and reduce your weight set-point.
- Food combinations that will help you stay satiated and thus see results faster.
- How long you can expect to wait before seeing results, and what you can eat to ease negative effects during the transition away from eating sugar and simple carbs.
Featured In This Episode:
- The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss by Dr. Jason Fung
Get The Full Episode Transcript
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This episode was a game changer for me. I have been snacking all day long without realizing I was sabotaging weight loss. Thank you for making this podcast. I would love to hear more about what types of things you eat. Particularly, I worry about the types of fat I am choosing, are they healthy or unhealthy. Also, my husband is vegetarian but my kids and I eat meat. So we try to eat vegetarian meals probably three times a week. Do you have any suggestions for vegetarian meals?
Hi! You’re very welcome! This information was a game-changer for me too! I will absolutely answer your questions on an upcoming podcast. I’m actually vegetarian myself, so I should be able to give you some great tips! As far as the fats, my main sources are avocados, nuts/unsweetened nut butters, full-fat dairy, eggs, olive oil, and full-fat unsweetened or very low sugar salad dressings such as ranch or blue cheese. Many people love coconut oil, coconut butter, and coconut cream. Also, as a meat eater, look for fattier cuts of meat like chicken thighs or the higher fat ground beef. Hope that helps!
When I listened to this I never thought I could be happy eating just 3 meals a day. Every diet/healthy eating plan I ever tried recommended snacks. I would eat breakfast, then very soon, start thinking about when I should or could eat my snack (or snack and a half) and so on until bedtime.
When I tried eating just 3 meals (with strong reservations and anticipation of being hangry) I was SO surprised. I did not feel hungry and best of all I didn’t think about food all day! What a revelation! – and I even food journal! It has been such a relief to feel confident that I don’t have to preemptively eat when I’m not even hungry and most of all, not have the “food chatter” and tiresome decision making 6 times per day.
Between meals I drink a good volume of water, but wonder if black coffee is “free”, I imagine it is. I have also hesitated to have sugar-free gum (after said black coffee, before I see more patients) in case the sugar alcohols stimulate insulin secretion (?). So what is “free”? Water, unsweet tea, what else?
Awesome Paula!! You should be really proud of yourself!!
“Free” beverages: water, sparkling water, fruit-infused water (but don’t eat the actual fruit), unsweetened tea (hot or cold), black coffee.
I am not a fan of sugar-free gum because, like you mentioned, the thought is that it stimulates insulin secretion as well. Brushing teeth is always an option, as is drinking something else instead that doesn’t give you the breath concerns. 😀
Great question, thanks!
Thanks so much for all of this info, Katrina! It truly has been a game-changer for me – the info in this episode especially! I have a question about fasting. Given that periods of fasting during the day (between our 3 meals) is good for resetting our weight set point, I’m wondering about the effects of actual fasting days. Is there any benefit in periodically fasting for an entire day, or most of a day (outside of religious reasons)? What about soup/juice “cleanses” (though I guess it would still have to be divided into just 3 “meals.”) I’ve never found these methods to be appealing but I’m curious about your opinion. Thanks!
Great question Allison! I don’t suggest soup/juice cleanses as such during weight loss. Juices concentrate the sugar and make it easier to digest, which means a greater spike in blood glucose and of course insulin. I have had some clients who grow to love intermittent fasting (there are many, MANY ways to do fasting – it doesn’t have to be an entire day) and have great results with it. Doctors especially love it because they don’t have to worry when their day explodes and they don’t have time for lunch. 😉
I only have my clients fast when they are already fat adapted, however. Once fat adapted, the body easily accesses the body fat stores for energy and you feel great throughout the fast. I think what is so unappealing (at least for me) about a juice cleanse is forcing myself to drink liters of unpalatable juices and feeling exhausted, wiped out, and nauseous, haha. Fasting, when done judiciously and rationally, results in even energy levels, minimal hunger, and improved insulin sensitivity which ultimately reduces the weight set point, which is what we all want!
My one reservation for low carb diets is strictly limiting fruits. Berries, melons, and really any kind of fruit is a big part of our “dieting” meal and this often takes the place of other simple starch sides (i.e. Pasta, rice, etc). I’ve seen people one high fat low carb diets say they’ve ruined their day by eating 4 strawberries! Not sure if I can do a diet like that (says my food chatter anyway). Any insight?
Ps Im loving your podcasts!! Life changing!
Hi Lindsey! I’ve never followed a low carb diet, myself. When I inadvertently eat low carb for too many days in a row, I don’t feel well. I too have heard people worry about throwing themselves out of ketosis and things like that. I eat plenty of carbs in the form of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. But some people really do feel much better when they eat low carb, so that is a good motivator for them to continue that eating plan. I say do what’s working for you! Glad the podcasts are helping! 😀
Hello! I am finding your podcasts fascinating! Can’t wait for more. I have been food journaling for years using the “Lose It” app and restricting my caloric intake whenever I want to lose weight. You are saying to stop measuring and weighing food?
Although it sounds like journaling is a must along with the hunger scale. And no snacks! whoa, that is so different. I’ve been eating 5-6 times a day and what you are saying makes so much sense. So, I guess I need to make my meals a little larger? How many ounces of protein, or roughly how many calories should I aim for for meals? Or do you adjust according to the log and hunger scale? I am excited to try all of this. thank you!
Hi Lauri! Yes! Definitely make your meals larger and add more fat. You’ll love not having to eat so often and to constantly think about when you’ll eat again and what it will be. At first, I don’t like clients to micromanage how much they’re eating. Eat a moderate amount of protein, lots of vegetables, 1-2 servings per day of fruit, moderate whole grains, and lots of fat. Tune in to that hunger scale. Once my clients get closer to goal weight, we often need to become more precise with measuring or weighing but not always! It’s so freeing to never think about calories ever again. 😉
I have not been familiar with this research mentioned here but have watched my “hover zone” go up over the years- despite not eating all that differently. I am going to give the three meals a try and look forward to increasing fat in my diet!! I love fat and with a long history of high cholesterol since my 20’s (I am now 50) have found the changes in dietary recommendations over the past few years helpful!! I love your pod casts and think you may now need to consider two a week 🙂
Sounds great Anne! Can’t wait to hear how you do. So glad you’re enjoying the podcasts! <3
I am already off refined sugars but have had this breakfast for a long time – 1 apple, 1 c whole fat plain yogurt, 1 oz grapenuts, 1 tbsp walnuts – so it’s got some of the fat to “stick with me” but I do wind up hungry before lunch and if you look at the actual amount of grams of sugar (mostly lactose and fructose), it’s fairly high in sugar. When I did the Whole 30, eating eggs and bacon and veggies for breakfast definitely “held me” longer but was so much more work. I love my apple/yogurt breakfast and would like to stick with that one but am not sure it fits with your guidelines. Any advice about breakfasts? Thanks so much – loving the podcasts and I love the title – it’s what grabbed me since I am an overweight busy physician!
Hi Nancy! I’m glad the podcast has been so helpful! As far as your breakfast, it’s totally fine except the grapenuts since they are made of flour. I wouldn’t worry about the naturally occurring sugars in the fruit and yogurt and I agree that the fat is very helpful. What I find is that when I eat breakfast, I’m actually hungrier throughout the day. I’ve experimented back and forth many times and the result is always the same. So I “fast” through breakfast which means that I have coffee with heavy whipping cream only until lunch time. This also allows me to have a slightly larger lunch and dinner than I would have if I also ate breakfast, which is a win in my book! It’s amazing how the small amount of cream takes hunger away and you can sip on it all morning which should help control your hunger. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
Hi Katrina, thank you so much for doing this podcast. It has helped me feel empowered in my weight loss journey. It has helped me unravel the things that have kept me trapped for so long. I’ve just started using some of your methods so no weight loss to track yet but I can already feel my thoughts changing and it’s getting easier to make better decisions. I would like your advice on dealing with deciding when to eat. I’m liking the no breakfast, just tea and cream thing but then do I really just wait until I get hungry or should I set a certain time for lunch? I was never much of a breakfast person, and have always been told how horrible that is, but because of that habit, I can go until 2pm before I really notice the hunger. I’m still trying to really understand my hunger ques using the hunger scale. What are your thoughts on the concerns of “starvation” mode, what level of fasting would become an issue? Also, is it a problem if it takes me an hour and half to eat my meal? I’m a slow eater, and I often get distracted at work. If I’m drawing out my meal, it cuts down on the time between meals. Is that a problem?
Great Rachael! Eating at 2pm is fine if that’s when you get hungry. In fact, eating 2 meals over a 4 hour window is fantastic for making you more insulin sensitive. I don’t like that you eat for so long though – you are basically grazing which makes your insulin levels higher for longer. You should eat the full meal over 20-30 minutes max. Focus on eating when you’re eating and focus on work when you’re working. Starvation mode is a myth and nothing to worry about. But you do need to eat plenty of food over that 4 hour window so that you don’t lower your basal metabolic rate. You might have to eat to a +5 or +6 to make sure you get enough food in. Play around with it and see how you do!
Thank you so much for this podcast episode. It has literally been life changing for me. I knew from prior experience 10 years ago that I lost weight more easily if I ate only 3 meals and no snacks, and with a 14 hour overnight fast, compared to the 6 meals a day protocol, but now at age 51 the 14 hour overnight fast was not enough. I had heard of the 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol from LeanGains and “The 8 Hour Diet” and had been trying it out, but your reference to Dr Fung’s book was such a game changer for me! Thank you so much for mentioning it. I think it’s one of the most important books I’ve ever read; I’m trying to convince my husband (who comes from a diabetic family) to read it as well. So grateful to be free of the myths of “starvation mode” and “slowing my metabolism” if I miss a meal. I’m within 16 pounds of my goal weight now, and I am confident I’ll get there. I went on vacation in April and experienced first hand how my set point had indeed been lowered, by maintaining my weight loss despite eating in restaurants 2x/day.
Thank you so much!
This is amazing Yvonne!! Great job!!!
Loved this podcast! Interesting about fasting and adjusting out set point! I’m embarrassed as a doctor I am still confused about carbohydrates!! I understand starchy vegetables (potato, beans, corn, squash) are good and you also mentioned quinoa and brown rice. So is bread and pasta not good, ever? Because then you talked about the Mediterranean diet with bread and pasta; as well as lots of olive oil. So flour is the problem? I have trouble with figuring out simple and complex carbs. I usually put honey in my tea, low fat milk, nonfat Greek yogurt…is all of that wrong?
I have binging on your podcasts and going to start journaling, paying attention to hunger scale and not snacking to start and then maybe fine tune things.
Hi Nicole! I know, it really can be confusing because it’s against everything we were ever taught! Before you work on not snacking, my suggestion is to increase your fat intake. If you eat so low fat, you will be very hungry without snacks. So no honey in your tea, whole milk, full-fat yogurt, etc. Flour is definitely a problem. Bread and pasta are not good, ever, like you said. That doesn’t mean you’ll never eat them again. Once you’re fat adapted, you can have something with flour and/or sugar once a week – I call this a “joy eat.” But you need to get off flour and sugar for at least 4-6 weeks before starting to do that. As a side note, I count beans as a protein, not a vegetable. While getting off flour and sugar, eat lots of fat and as many snacks as you need for about a week. Once your body adapts, you will be so much less hungry and will start noticing all kinds of great results! Good luck!
HI Katrina! I just wanted to thank you for recognizing that physicians have a hard time with weight loss too!! I have lost and gained the same 15 pounds 3 times in the last 5 years since having children. my question about eating more fats in my diet is how do I manage cholesterol? My doctor recently put me on Wellchol for elevated lipids and triglycerides. What do you recommend in this case? Thank you so much !
Hi, Katrina! I have a question. I understand the issue of reducing insulin resistance and becoming fat adapted. But you mentioned that it takes a while before we would see results. My question is – how do I know during that time that I am eating appropriately? If I don’t expect to lose weight during that time, what is my marker of being on the right track? I don’t want to think I have limited my eating enough, decreased simple carbs enough, and increased fat enough, and then go for a month or two before I find out that I actually had not made enough changes.
Thank you for your podcasts, so motivating! I’ve never heard about this way of resetting the weight set-point. I would be very interested about reading more about it. What do you recommend reading? Articles, books? I am a science oriented person and knowing more about stuff is what helps me staying motivated. Thank you!
Hi Katrina! I am a fellow physician and found your podcast via a Facebook group. This episode was amazing. I have a question about plateaus. I have doing intermittent fasting and moderately low carb diet for 7 months. I lost 20 pounds in the first couple.of months and since then hit a plateau. Have you seen this with your clients and how does one get out of it?!
I love your podcast! I never realized how much snacking was sabbatoging my weight loss efforts. Coming from a family that has obesity issues, this information has been very helpful. I don’t drink tea or coffee but my beverage of choice is water with a drop or two of essential oils for flavor and health benefits (ie lemon, cinnamon, cassia, ginger, grapefruit, etc) Would drinking this between meals cause problems with resetting my set point?
Hi Katrina! I love this podcast. My MD sister-in-law told me about it and encouraged me to listen even though I am not in the medical profession. I also don’t have a weight problem per se and am generally okay about food, but I really would like to be the healthiest that I can be. A lot of this info is new to me, as I have always tried to do the calorie thing.
I have 2 questions: 1) what do you think about green smoothies? I have one almost every morning. It’s always 2-3 cups of kale (or some other green), either coconut H20 or unsweetened almond milk, and then 2 cups of fruit. Too much sugar? and 2) do you have any cookbooks you’d recommend for cooking with healthy fats? I love your descriptions of the olive oil-heavy meals you make, etc. and would love to find a cookbook or two with recipes following this principal. Finally, I also love your Midwestern accent– I’m from IL so you sound like a friend of mine! Keep up the great work.
Hi Katrina! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. I have a question about amounts of fat I should be eating. I’ve way upped my fat intake, removed sugar and simple carbs and am using the hunger scale and eating only 3 times a day. I’m able to do this for the first time in my life. I was a many small meals gal forever. I am feeling satiated after meals I think because of the higher fat intake but I’m afraid I’m eating too much. I’m pouring olive oil in glugs rather than teaspoons. I’m asking because I didn’t see much loss this week after being on plan.