What, how, and when you eat tells your body if it should store or burn fat for fuel and if it should build muscle or waste it. These meal guidelines from the fat-burning eating plan in JJ Virgin’s book Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy will help you get rid of your fat in order to lean out your body.
This is one of the easiest eating plans in the world because you will eat within an hour of waking up, you will eat three meals a day every four to six hours, and you will stop eating three hours before bed. There will be one optional snack if you have to go for a longer period between your meals. You will eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with this one caveat: You don’t have to eat breakfast foods for breakfast.
You will also eat what I call healthy and clean meals. This means every meal will include a lean protein, one serving of a high-fiber carb, loads of nonstarchy veggies, and some healthful fat. I’ll explain them in detail in just a minute.
Here’s a quick overview: protein is what we need to help us build muscle and will be eaten at every single meal because it’s critical to your success. It slows down stomach emptying, which means that it keeps the hunger-triggering hormone ghrelin, which is produced by your stomach when it is empty, at bay. The right types of fat are some of the most therapeutic things you can add to your plate, as they support good brain function and mood, help with bone remodeling, and can reduce inflammation. When fat enters your small intestine, it also triggers the release of cholecystokinin (CCK), which tells your body that you are full, thus flipping off your appetite switch.
Finally, the right high-fiber carbs and nonstarchy veggies give your brain the energy you need to make it through the day. The fiber in these two groups also helps slow down stomach emptying, keeping you feeling fuller longer. As an added bonus, the fiber will give you poops you can be proud of. Yes, I just said that in my book because it’s important that your body function in all the right (and regular — pun intended) ways. Plus, when you eat from the rainbow of fruits and veggies, you will get a plethora of great phytonutrients (plant nutrients) that can benefit you in a variety of ways, including giving you more energy, clearer skin, and less pain and inflammation. If you’re on one of those stressful no-carb diets, a new day is about to dawn for you and you will love the sudden zap in your daily mojo because those no-carb plans leave people cranky, tired, and listless.
Again, the concept is that food provides information to your body. It dictates whether you store fat and burn sugar or burn fat and build muscle. You don’t want to be a sugar burner, because then you won’t reach your goals when it comes to your arms or any other part of your body.
By the way, I won’t be asking you to whip up gourmet meals because, frankly, who has the time? And most of us aren’t ready to go all Martha Stewart on a daily basis. These meals are simple, fast choices that do the trick.
A few general guidelines when choosing your meals:
- Eat 4 to 6 ounces of protein at each meal. That’s approximately .75 to 1 gram per pound of fat-free mass. You can approximate this with the following formula:
- Men, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.8 (0.85 if you are fit)
- Women, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.7 (0.8 if you are fit).
This will give you the total number of grams you should eat in a day. Divide this number by three to get the amount in each meal.
- Eat two or more servings of nonstarchy vegetables at each meal — the more, the better. A serving is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked; increase the number of servings to increase weight loss. Note that the minimum number of servings per day of these is five; your goal is ten!
- Eat one to three servings of fat at each meal. A serving is approximately 1 tablespoon of nut butter or oil, 10 small nuts, 1/3 of an avocado, 1/4 cup of light coconut milk, 3 to 4 ounces of fish. Stick with two servings for accelerated fat loss.
- Eat one to two servings of high-fiber starchy carbs or fruits at each meal. A serving is 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup of cooked grains, 1/3 cup of beans, 1/2 medium yam or sweet potato, 1/2 cup of winter squash, 1 apple, 1 cup of berries, or a sliced tomato. Stick with one serving per meal for accelerated fat loss, and if you want to skip your dinner serving, increase your intake of nonstarchy vegetables by at least two additional servings. Make sure to have at least one serving at breakfast and lunch so your brain is well fueled throughout the day!
- Don’t forget to drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day between meals. Drink only 4 to 8 ounces of water with meals because you don’t want to dilute your stomach acid and impair your digestion.
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