Firstly, gaining weight is not a problem. Fat cells are designed to increase in size and number when they receive the right signals. Our ability to store spare energy is an evolutionary hangover – it was an advantage to our mutual ancestors to be able to gain a pound a day. If they couldn’t survive the harsh winter conditions, they did not survive to pass on their genes to the next generation.
The problem comes because our lifestyles have changed dramatically since those days. We sleep in temperature controlled rooms, commute to work in metal boxes, sit at the desk all day, and then return home after ‘hunting’ at the grocery store. We have the ability to run 20 miles every day, but we struggle when we are forced to be sedentary.
One of the major causes of weight gain is the timing of meals. Skipping breakfast, eating lunch at the desk and then topping up the calorie intake with a large evening meal actually programmes our bodies to gain weight. In ancestral times, if we didn’t hunt successfully until nightfall, it usually meant that resources were scarce. Those people whose bodies didn’t store every scrap of energy during these times would struggle to find the explosive power needed in the chase. Simply put, if you eat late at night, your body stores the excess energy from the food as fats.
This is a problem because all food is broken down into glucose first, meaning that whilst you are sleeping, your glucose levels are quite high, which accounts for the lack of hunger pangs first thing in the morning. In fact, due to the mixture of short chain fatty acids and ketones, you might feel a little nauseous too.
However, a good breakfast with a mixture of carbohydrates (fast release) and proteins (slow release) and a regular lunch means that the majority of the calories will be consumed while the metabolism is active, and you are less likely to gain weight. You might find that you’re more peckish during the day, but this is just your body’s metabolism being more active – more on this in part two. The ideal way to counter this is with fruit – nature’s snacks.
We’ve all heard of the importance of five-a-day; but it’s important to remember that this isn’t a target, but a minimum. Aside from giving us a wide range of vitamins and minerals, fructose (fruit sugar) is an excellent source of slow-released energy, meaning that we don’t feel the hunger pangs until it’s time for a proper meal. By the time the evening rolls around, you won’t feel all that hungry, and you’ll wake up feeling relaxed and refreshed, with a huge appetite and ready to take on the world; now you can fill up the tank before the start of the journey.