Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Eat the right food at the right time

Every food we eat provides the body with a range of nutrients, which helps us stay healthy. And, if eaten in the right proportion according to one's body weight, age and gender it can also aid in weight loss.

What defines our body's composition is lean mass-muscle and free fat mass. So, to achieve fat loss, it is important to eat the right food at the right time.

To understand what food to eat at the right time, let's first understand the working of our bodies. The body's needs differ at different times of the day.

Morning: On waking up, your body has gone through a starvation period of no instant energy provided through food. The liver does carry enough glycogen but these reserves are used up extensively in the 10-12 hours fasting period through the night and thus, carbohydrate (glycogen) reserves are very low. Blood sugar levels are also low. Since carbohydrates are not readily available to support the body's primary need for energy, the body breaks muscle protein to obtain fuel for energy because protein is the second preferred source of energy in the absence of carbohydrates. And hence the muscle is in a breakdown phase (catabolic state) in the morning. Fat, the concentrated source of energy, is also being slowly metabolised. Keeping this in mind, one must eat on waking up.

One must eat within an hour of rising to arrest the muscle breakdown, and fuel the glycogen stores of the body. Include a quick and simple fast absorbing carbohydrate and a quick fast absorbing protein source with the right blend of good fats. A blend of simple carbohydrates like a fruit and some oatmeal will release sugars in the bloodstream. Protein sources like egg whites or whey protein are ideal to halt the catabolism of the muscles.

Mid morning: Blood sugar levels are recovering from the morning meal. Muscle is rebounding but the aim is to keep the metabolism of the body operational. This is the time when one is running around doing chores. Therefore, one needs to take care to not let the blood sugar levels drop. So, a mix blend of quick and slow absorbing carbohydrates and protein would do the trick here.

Milk contains both casein and whey. Casein is a slow absorbed protein, which releases amino acids - the building blocks of proteins very slowly in the body. Whey is a fast absorbing protein, which releases amino acids fast in the body. Milk also contains carbohydrates, which slowly convert the lactose into readily used energy source glucose. Simple carbohydrates like fruits can also be had at this meal.

The body should be well balanced at this time. But this is again the second largest meal of the day. Sustained energy is needed to allow one to sail through the afternoon activities. Very importantly, one needs to keep the muscle out from the possibility of going into the breakdown phase. Also, this meal will help in avoiding sugar cravings, which generally do occur in at mid afternoon as the sugar levels start to tumble.

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