In an effort to lose weight, many people graze or eat mini meals over the past ten years or so. Weight loss specialists and other respected industry authorities promoted several small meals throughout the day over the old school three full meals a day. The thinking went that eating every two or three hours would stoke the metabolism and keep it going, such that calories would constantly be burned off. Makes sense, right? A study published in the journal Nutrition surprised many experts when it found that there’s really little proof that the mini-meal method of eating has ANY weight loss benefits.
Many of those same industry gurus were even more surprised when a more recent, breakthrough study showed that this so-called weight loss advice can actually be a CAUSE OF WEIGHT GAIN! This study from the Netherlands, published in Hepatology, found that those who ate more often exhibited a 110% increase in harmful levels of liver fats. Over six weeks, these same subjects gained 63% more BELLY FAT compared to people who consumed the same number of calories, but in just three meals per day.
After age 40, the liver is overworked even with healthy eating and regular exercise. This is exacerbated by years of eating mini-meals, according to Sara Gottfried, M.D. As we live longer, liver function is impeded by consumption of refined carbohydrates, sugar and exposure to environmental toxins. Couple this reality with a buildup of fat in the liver from eating mini-meals and the ability to regulate body weight takes a serious hit. Some experts in fact estimate that 75% of people that struggle to lose pounds that won’t budge, fatty liver is to blame. Dr. Gottfried says that when fat accumulates in the liver, it loses its ability to switch between telling the body to store food or fat or burn it as fuel. The consequence is that the body does less fat burning and more storing.
It’s not entirely clear how grazing impacts the liver in this way. However, it’s believed that the mechanism for this faulty switching is related to the hormone insulin. Every time you consume food, insulin levels rise in the body. So those that eat often, probably have more insulin in their system throughout the day. The problem with this is that insulin stimulates fat accumulation in the liver, according to Mireille Serlie, M.D., Ph.D., co-author of the Netherlands study.
If not addressed, fatty liver and have a very negative effect on health. A malfunctioning liver can send the body into insulin resistance, according to Dr. Gottfried. And that is a slippery slope towards metabolic syndrome, diabetes and even heart disease.
Conversely, according to James D. Johnson, Ph.D., “Restricting the amount of times you eat throughout the day creates longer periods of low insulin.” This lowering of insulin levels between meals also reduces accumulation of fat in both the belly and the liver. In fact, when you’re in mini fasting mode (between meals), the body begins to burn excess fat. Shoot for a minimum of 12 to 14 hours for a mini-fast each day. Melting off stored liver and belly fat has both short- and long-term health benefits. Dr. Johnson’s study at the University of British Columbia found that reduced insulin spikes changes how fat cells operate. Specifically, white adipose tissue (hard-to-lose belly fat) takes on characteristics of brown adipose tissues. This is good news, because brown adipose tissue is actually desirable when it comes to fatty tissue because it burns itself up! In addition to slowly burning away belly fat, decreasing fat in the liver has also shown to boost energy, eliminate body aches and improve mental energy. If you or a loved one as belly and/or butt fat that won’t budge – and you eat mini-meals – ask your doctor or health care provider about switching to a three meals a day diet. Give it some time and see if that helps melt some of the fat away.
Our slimming and detoxifying body wraps help eliminate toxins from the tissues of the body by way of the lymphatic system. Toxins are pulled from the tissues into the lymphatic vessels and carried to the bloodstream. From there, as with all things that enter the bloodstream, the toxins are processed by the kidneys, liver and other organs and systems of detoxification before leaving the body. A body wrap can be a great motivator or boost to a switch to a healthier lifestyle and new weight loss program.
FIRST for Women, October 6, 2014, pp. 30-32