When dieting, some people still think it’s helpful to skip meals, starving themselves with an eye towards a lower overall caloric intake. However, fitness veterans and nutrition-savvy individuals generally tend to take the approach of eating as often as possible, usually every two to three hours. And while this may seem a strategy geared towards someone on a resistance training program looking to add strength and muscle mass, the truth is that this same approach is likely a dieter’s best bet as well. In fact anyone looking to establish healthy eating habits in hopes of achieving or maintaining a healthy body weight would be well-served to make a point of eating at regular intervals. Frankly, skipping meals and starving yourself tends to do more harm than good.

Of course, maybe it’s not intentional. Even if you’re not trying to starve yourself, going long stretches without food is an easy mistake to make. With the hectic pace of the average workweek, the inability to properly plan every meal can understandably lead to a missed lunch here and there. Even if you’re resourceful enough to ensure you don’t miss your three squares, the idea of eating more often than that probably seems like a stretch. However, it can be done – and as many an athlete will tell you, it’s entirely worth it. Here’s why.

When looking to reduce body fat or limit its accumulation, one of the primary areas to focus on is limiting cortisol production. Cortisol is a hormone responsible for increasing blood glucose levels by promoting protein breakdown, causing muscle loss and slowing the metabolism. It is released in response to elevated levels of the hormone insulin, which is responsible for regulating glucose uptake from the bloodstream into the muscle cells and other parts of the body. Now, when you eat a large meal, your blood sugar spikes, causing a subsequent spike in insulin. This leads to cortisol release, which breaks down your muscle tissue to supply glucose to the bloodstream. To make matters worse, now you have a surplus of blood glucose, so some of it will be converted to glycerol to be stored as fat.

Clearly, controlling this process is necessary if muscle loss and fat buildup are to be kept in check. The answer should be fairly obvious: eat smaller meals. Smaller meals mean less pronounced increases in blood sugar, keeping insulin levels reasonable and avoiding excess production of cortisol. Further, the more frequent eating necessitated by smaller meals protects against drastic drops in blood sugar, which can result from prolonged time between meals and lead to cortisol production. (This is why starving yourself is so counterproductive.) Frequent small meals also aid in weight management by stimulating the metabolism throughout the day, so your body is constantly burning calories at an elevated rate. This also serves to provide a steady stream of energy, which can help you avoid that late-afternoon energy crash and perhaps enhance productivity.

Sticking to this kind of eating plan, however, does require a certain amount of discipline. For anyone serious about fitness and improving their eating habits, planning and routine are the order of the day. By devising a meal plan at the beginning of the week, you give yourself a clear idea of when and what you will eat, removing the stress of on-the-go decision-making and minimizing the chance you’ll make an unhealthy choice. It may even be helpful to prepare as many of the week’s meals in advance as possible, saving time and energy during the workday. Anything that makes it the slightest bit easier to maintain the necessary commitment to eating well and eating often will likely prove invaluable in the long run.

One key element of success is the inclusion of protein supplementation in your meal plan. Preparing and eating four to six whole food meals a day can be daunting even for the most committed. Given the known muscle-building and fat-shedding benefits of a diet high in quality protein, it makes sense to save time and ensure adequate protein intake by replacing a daily meal or two with a nutritionally complete protein shake – and there’s no better choice than BSN’s ultra-premium flagship protein powder SYNTHA-6™. Its delicious shakes provide a quick and efficient complement to whole food meals, ensuring your body a steady stream of high-quality fuel and keeping you on track with your nutritional goals.

Ultimately, most individuals will find that the backbone of a healthy and well-balanced diet is establishing a comfortable routine. By pre-planning or preparing weekly meals in advance and including a convenient protein supplementation regimen, healthy eating habits will eventually become second nature, and greater control over your body weight will soon follow. To that end, BSN wants to help make sticking to the program as stress-free as possible. Recognizing the role protein supplementation plays in a healthy nutrition plan, we’re introducing a new 5-lb container of SYNTHA-6™. For those who value their routine, this new size is welcome news. Nothing disrupts a nutritional routine like running out of quality protein, but ensuring you always have enough can sometimes be a hassle. Now with 52 servings of ultra-premium protein per container in three classic flavors, SYNTHA-6™ can fit more seamlessly than ever into your busy schedule. The increased size also makes it a better value than ever. WithSYNTHA-6™, eating healthy and at regular intervals can be simple and delicious; and with the new 5-lb container, less disruption means one less obstacle between you and your goals.

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