We’ve all seen that article a million times, how eating several small meals throughout the day can help you lose weight. There is good science to back up this claim, but if you find that you’re not losing weight, you’re bloated, gassy, and just generally uncomfortable, you may actually be doing more harm than good by eating 5-6 small meals per day.
Eating 5-6 small meals rather than 3 large meals does make sense. The science behind this method of eating is that, by eating smaller meals more frequently, the dieter will be able to keep their blood sugar stable. In doing this, it prevents hunger pangs and binge eating caused by those dreadful drops in blood sugar (the kind that make you want to go home and eat EVERYTHING in sight).
But what this method of eating doesn’t really take into consideration is the digestive process. When we eat something and I mean anything, our stomach releases hydrochloric acid (HCl) or stomach acid. This acid begins the digestive process in the stomach before the food moves on to the small intestine where the real digestion takes place.
What can happen when you eat frequently, is that your stomach is having to constantly secrete hydrochloric acid and over time, it can exhaust and begin to secrete less. This leads to a condition called ‘underactive stomach’ and can wreak havoc on the entire digestive system.
An underactive stomach does not produce enough enzymes for the proper digestion of food and will affect the proper functioning of the colon leading to malabsorption of vitamins and minerals (and constipation which is super annoying). When food isn’t broken down enough at the beginning of the digestive process it can also cause putrification in the intestinal tract (bloating, gas, and flatulence) this is especially true of animal protein since it is already so difficult for the body to break down and a slow transit time just makes it that much worse.
So what do you do? Give up snacking all together? While that is one option that many people choose to follow, if you determine that it is not right for you, you can start with some of the following suggestions
1. Choose foods that are easy to digest such as fruits and vegetables. When eaten raw, these foods have natural live enzymes that will aid in digestion. Yes, that’s right. Food will break itself down when eaten raw!
2. Supplement with Betaine HCl with all meals. Start with one tablet for smaller meals/snacks and increase to about 2 or 3 for larger meals. If you take too many don’t worry, you’ll just feel a bit of discomfort (like an acid reflux feeling) and then you know to decrease your amounts at the next meal.
3. Proper food combining. Some foods are easier to digest when eaten together than others. For example, fruit should always be eating alone because it is digested quickly. Protein can be eaten with fats or vegetables and the same with carbohydrates, but protein should not be combined with carbohydrates.
At the end of the day, every body is different and will respond differently to different kinds of foods. For example, I have a difficult time digesting raw apples (which sucks because I love apples!). You really do have to experiment with different combinations to find what works for you. I do recommend that you try food combinations for at least 2-3 days to see how your body reacts, then make adjustments after that.
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