HERE’S A LITTLE BIOLOGY LESSON: As early humans evolved, starvation and deprivation were persistent threats to survival. So they learned to store fat in flush times and burn fewer calories when food was hard to come by—just like bears preparing for hibernation. If you go hungry all day and then eat a heavy evening meal, you’re doing the same thing.
Instead, try eating several small meals, consuming 30 percent to 35 percent of your daily calories in the morning. You’ll feel full all day and give your body a chance to burn off what you took in—rather than sleeping on it like a bear.
Dairy, eggs, whole grains, and fiber. If you usually skip breakfast, start with a glass of milk or a slice of cheese with whole-wheat toast. Or, if you wake up ready for a meal, have walnut-flaxseed oatmeal with some yogurt and blueberries.
To load up on calories.
The protein in milk and other dairy products can increase muscle protein production, helping to promote muscle growth and fat loss after exercise.
More of the same! That’s right—eating twice in the a.m. means you’ll take in fewer calories overall. A lot of guys don’t have the time (or the stomach) to power down a third of their daily calorie allowance first thing in the morning. So breaking up the meal keeps your calorie intake shifted to the morning while allowing you to start your day without busting a gut.
Vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts, and whole grains. Think soups and salads.
To pack in as much nutrition as possible.
Lunch is the defining moment of your nutritional day. Breakfast is about calorie loading, and by dinner the day is shot. So lunch is your chance to feast on at least three representatives from the fruit, vegetable, or legume category—which is why soups and salads are your go-to choices at this time of day.
Leafy greens and other vegetables, lean meats, fish, beans, and legumes.
To keep portion size down.
A Penn State study found that eating a low-calorie salad before a main course can decrease overall food intake by up to 12 percent. So start with the green stuff, and then move on to lean protein or an omega-3-rich fish (like salmon).
Yogurt, berries, walnuts, red bell peppers with cottage cheese, whole-grain cereal with milk, and apples and cheese.
To stave off hunger.
You can’t lose weight and keep it off unless you snack! In fact, studies suggest that people who eat less often than three times a day may have trouble controlling their appetite. So don’t deprive yourself. Raid that pantry. Just choose smartly.