Should You Eat More Often for a Better Metabolism?

Should You Eat More Often for a Better Metabolism?


Can you trust your hunger or should you schedule your meals?

You may have heard that eating 6 small meals per day will boost your metabolism and help you lose weight. Or maybe the exact opposite – that fasting is great for weight loss.  

There is a lot of confusion about meal frequency in the health and fitness industry.

But don’t worry – there’s one rule to rule them all.

The number one rule of meal frequency

The best number of meals a day for you is whatever it takes to meet your nutritional needs. Here’s what that means…

What you eat –  which macronutrients –  and how much you eat matters more than how often you eat. 

Some people find it easier to eat  three  times. Others are able to better adjust the amount of food they eat if it is spread out in smaller meals so they never get hungry. That’s why the right number of meals for you is whatever is the easiest to meet your nutritional needs throughout the day. Simple as that.

Why?

The fact is:

If you want to lose fat or gain weight the most important thing is to adjust your calorie intake accordingly.

Remember, eating smaller meals won’t speed up your weight loss if the calories stay the same. And here’s why…

Your meal timing and metabolism questions answered

Will eating small meals often speed up your weight loss?

It is a fact that meal digestion increases your metabolic rate. But, it depends on the amount of calories and not how often you eat. Eating 900 calories in three small meals or just one big meal doesn’t make a difference.(1) As long as calories stay the same, eating more often won’t make a significant difference for weight loss, according to research.

Does skipping meals cause “starvation mode” that stops you from losing weight?

When you eat less, your metabolism has less to digest. So, restricting your calories will slow down your metabolic rate, whether you skip meals or not. But – a slower metabolic rate is most likely not the reason why your weight loss stalled. . Actually, your weight loss will naturally slow down once you have less to lose. It doesn’t mean you are in “starvation mode” and have to eat more often.

This common myth causes people to eat more and sabotage their diets. (Exceptions include conditions like anorexia and rare diseases such as marasmus.)

“Starving yourself” with a severe caloric restriction is not advised for health reasons beyond weight management, such as malnutrition that could lead to other serious health issues.

Should you eat right after your workout if you want to gain muscle?

If your goal is to build muscle, there are a couple of scientifically proven tips to increase muscle protein synthesis.(3) Consuming high-quality protein up to 2 hours after your workout can help muscle recovery and gain. For optimal gains, you should consider eating 20-40g of protein (0.25–0.40 g/kg body mass/dose) approximately every 4 hours. If you are not exercising, the timing is not crucial and you should care most about the total protein intake per day to build more muscle.

Still, you might be left wondering – are there any reasons why you should eat more or less often?

Should you eat more or less often?

Consider eating less often if…

  • The “smaller meals approach” is complicated for you
  • You want to think less about food but still stick to your planned calories
  • You can’t lose weight even by restricting calories
  • You have digestive problems – a longer break between meals gives your body a chance to digest food completely

Looking for a change? Intermittent fasting can be a great way to lose weight and/or spend less time on food planning.

Is it safe to experiment with intermittent fasting?

In general, yes. But it’s not advised if you are younger than 18, pregnant, diabetic, underweight, or have had an eating disorder.

Consider eating more often (4 or more meals a day) if…

  • You want to gain weight but can’t eat so many calories in one meal
  • You have a very active job and high calorie demands
  • You are an athlete and need specific nutrient timing around your workouts
  • You feel “hangry” (hungry + angry) all the time (maybe you should try foods that keep you full longer?)

Key takeaways

  • There is no magical number of meals a day that will work for everyone. Trust your hunger – if you like to eat smaller meals more frequently, then go for it. If not, feel free to eat less often.
  • You don’t have to force yourself to eat on a schedule, but it would be good to create a habit of eating the same number of meals each day. Why? According to research, meal irregularity can have negative effects on your health. Whether it’s 2 meals, 3 meals, 6 meals a day – try to choose a number of meals that you can stick to most days of the week.
  • Don’t forget the number one rule: the best number of meals for you depends on what your body needs to meet your goals.

Not sure how much macronutrients you need? Use the protein intake calculator and carb calculator to find out what is the optimal amount for your goals!

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The Top 12 Foods in a Heart Healthy Diet

The Top 12 Foods in a Heart Healthy Diet


People with high blood pressure or atherosclerosis rarely have any symptoms. They can go for a long time thinking their heart is fine. Then suddenly, they feel a sharp pain in their chest. If their doctor tells them that there’s a problem with their heart or cholesterol level, they’re likely to change their lifestyle. Unfortunately, a lifestyle change is usually not enough, and they’ll have to take medication. If only they had started paying attention to their cardiovascular health earlier…

In fact, if you make healthy changes early enough, you can improve your heart health. Start including the right foods in a heart-healthy diet now. We’ll tell you the top 12 foods that are good for your heart. 

Which Foods are Good for Your Heart?

1. Fatty fish

Fatty fish (e.g., mackerel, herring, trout, or sardines) are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These vital fatty acids have immense benefits for your cardiovascular system. They can even help prevent heart disease.(1) Including these types of fish in your diet regularly can also reduce your cholesterol by increasing the “good” cholesterol (HDL). 

2. Kale

Kale (and other green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard) is packed with vitamins and minerals. One of those is vitamin K, which is important for your heart health.(2) A meta-analysis including eight studies showed that the regular consumption of green leafy vegetables could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by almost 16%.(3

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes produce a secondary metabolite called lycopene. This is an antioxidant that can reduce inflammation in the body.(4) Antioxidants have a powerful effect on reducing LDL cholesterol, which is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Lycopene-rich foods lower LDL levels and increase beneficial HDL cholesterol in the blood.  

4. Avocado

Studies show that eating avocados regularly can have a positive effect on your HDL cholesterol.(5) This is due to their high monounsaturated fat content. 

5. Legumes

Legumes are the real deal. These superfoods not only regulate your blood sugar and keep your digestion working smoothly, but they are also an important part of a heart-healthy diet. Lentils, beans, chickpeas, and other legumes reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol and also help decrease inflammation in your body.(6) Try to include legumes in your diet at least four times a week. 

6. Berries

Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These are considered some of the healthiest foods you can eat; plus, they can help prevent cardiovascular disease.(7)

7. Whole Grain Foods

Fiber is a very important component in a heart-healthy diet. Whole grain products are high in fiber and, as a result, lower your LDL cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease.(8) Try to include whole grain foods in your diet on a daily basis, such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, whole grain pasta, or whole grain bread.

8. Nuts

Walnuts are an excellent source of healthy micronutrients for your heart and brain.(9) However, don’t forget about other kinds of nuts like hazelnuts, almonds, and cashews, which also have a protective effect. Eat a handful of nuts each day for a healthy heart.

9. Seeds

Like nuts, many types of seeds are great for your heart. These include flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and hemp seeds. High in antioxidants, these seeds improve your circulation while also reducing blood pressure and cholesterol.(10)

10. Olive oil

Olive oil is a staple food in the Mediterranean diet. There are plenty of reasons this is considered one of the healthiest foods in the world. The antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil protect your heart (look for extra virgin and cold-pressed).(11)

Important!

Olive oil should not be heated, which means don’t use it for sautéeing or frying. Drizzle it over tomatoes with mozzarella and basil or a crisp salad instead.

11. Garlic 

Garlic is another important part of a heart-healthy diet. The compound allicin lowers cholesterol and blood pressure; plus it has positive results in the treatment of atherosclerosis.(12)

12. Dark chocolate

No, you’re not dreaming. Chocolate with a high cocoa content (at least 70%) can protect your heart. Studies show that dark chocolate can reduce the risk of hardening of the arteries.(13) It’s all about the amount here; try to keep your intake moderate (~ 15g), considering the high fat and sugar content. 

Takeaway

One of the best things you can do for your cardiovascular health is to eat a balanced diet loaded with a wide variety of healthy foods. Keep your heart strong by staying physically active and limiting alcohol consumption, animal fats and salt, and quitting smoking. 

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Headache During or After Workouts? 4 Common Causes

Headache During or After Workouts? 4 Common Causes


Piercing pain at your temples, a throbbing ache in your forehead – we’ve all suffered the agony of headaches, and there are plenty of causes. Some of us are more likely to get them during or after exercise. 

Good to know:

Headaches are divided into two types: primary and secondary.

  • Primary headaches are triggered by exertion, tension, or not enough sleep.
  • Secondary headaches, however, are a symptom of another more serious underlying condition like high blood pressure, an infection, substance withdrawal, or a stroke. 

In this article, we’ll identify four common causes of headaches that can occur during and after exercise and give you tips for treating and preventing them. We’ll also uncover the truth about whether or not exercise can trigger migraines.

Important:

If you experience headaches that last for days, or if there are more days in a month that you suffer from headaches than without, you should consult a specialist. A medical professional can check to see if you are suffering from primary or secondary headaches, both of which can come from underlying conditions.

Table of contents: 

4 Reasons Why You’re Suffering From Headaches During Or After Workouts

Reason #1: Sustained, Strenuous Exercise

Primary headaches caused by strenuous physical activity are called exertional exercise or exercise headaches. These are described as throbbing, migraine-like pain across the whole head (bilateral headaches) and last between five minutes and 48 hours.(1,2) An extreme exercise headache can also cause vomiting and vision problems. It’s important to take exercise-induced headaches seriously.

Headache prevention

Exertion headaches often develop if you skip your warm-up, your workout is too strenuous, or your body overheats. That can encompass high temperature indoors or outdoors, or when you are at high altitudes, like on a tough hike in the mountains.

One way to prevent exertion headaches is to reduce the intensity of your workouts. These tips for running in the summer can help you cope with the heat and avoid dehydration.

Reason #2: Poor posture

Bad posture, stress, and poor form when you work out can cause tension, which can lead to headaches during or after exercise. Tension headaches are described as a constant ache that is usually felt on both sides of the head.(3)

Headache Prevention

Check your form during workouts and your posture throughout the day. Review these tips on proper running form and be aware of the most common mistakes are made during bodyweight exercises

Try using heat, massage, or doing exercises to relieve neck pain to relax your muscles if you get a headache after workouts.

Reason #3: Dehydration

Whether it’s from exercise or just not drinking enough fluids, dehydration is one of the most common causes of post-exercise headaches.

Avoid dehydration by calculating how much water you should drink each day with our liquid requirement calculator:

Headache prevention

Make sure you are drinking enough throughout the day. To add variety, you can include special sports drinks that keep you hydrated and provide your body with important micronutrients. 

Reason #4: Low blood sugar

Headaches after exercise are bad enough, but if you also feel weak, shaky, dizzy, or even nauseous, you may be experiencing the symptoms of low blood sugar and depleted energy stores. Always ensure that your body has enough energy to work out.

Headache prevention

If you notice the symptoms listed above when you’re exercising, you should take a break. You can refill your energy and increase your blood sugar by eating more carbohydrates

There are also a few foods that can trigger headaches and migraines or make them worse – usually in combination with other causes. Avoid these potential headache triggers(4)

  • alcohol (especially wine or beer) 
  • chocolate
  • caffeine
  • aged cheese
  • foods high in
    • monosodium glutamate
    • artificial sweeteners
    • and preservatives like nitrates or nitrites 

Can exercise trigger migraines?

Research on the connection between migraines and exercise is not very extensive. However, there are studies that show that migraineurs (people who frequently suffer from migraines) can experience exercise-triggered migraines. It is believed that the exertional headaches and tension headaches mentioned above are more likely to lead to a migraine.(5) If you are at risk of migraines, it is even more important that you prevent the four causes of headaches after exercise. 

The good news:

Studies also show that regular exercise can help prevent migraines or at least reduce the intensity of the pain. This is thanks to the endorphins produced during sports.(6,7)

Takeaway

Before you start working out, make sure you are hydrated and that your energy stores are full. Pay attention to your form and practice good posture while exercising. If you have a bad headache combined with dizziness, nausea, shakiness, and/or vomiting, stop your workout immediately and consult your physician. The same applies if you experience headaches that last several days.

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HIIT Training: Nutrition for More Power

HIIT Training: Nutrition for More Power


High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is what many athletes consider the best way to get in shape and lose weight. The high intensity intervals boost metabolism and stimulate fat burning. A balanced, healthy diet is key for optimal results. We’ll tell you what to eat before a HIIT workout and after.

What is HIIT training?

The name says it all: High-intensity interval training alternates phases of intense exercise with short recovery periods. This makes you sweat a lot. Many athletes consider this anaerobic training the most effective way to improve endurance.

Benefits of HIIT

HIIT workouts offer a multitude of benefits. They are great for cardiovascular health, excellent calorie burners, and improve your performance in other sports. Find out more in our blog post Top 6 HIIT Benefits.

HIIT Banner

What to Eat Before HIIT and Afterward

What to eat before a HIIT workout 

Do you like to exercise on an empty stomach in the morning? HIIT is one of the best ways to burn calories and reduce body fat.(1) If you feel strong, there’s no reason why you can’t work out before breakfast. However, remember that you need carbs to keep going during your workout. They give you the energy you need to push yourself. If you don’t eat before working out, your performance and stamina will likely suffer.(2

Have a high-carb snack a few hours before your HIIT workout: 

  • banana and a handful of nuts 
  • oatmeal with almond milk, berries, and nuts
  • granola bar
  • toast with pure nut butter or avocado
  • smoothie

Remember to hydrate!

Always keep a bottle of water within reach during your workouts. HIIT makes you thirsty. You don’t need sports drinks to hydrate effectively.

Did you know? Coffee before a workout can boost your performance.(3) An espresso (without milk or sugar) gives you a natural boost. 

What to eat after a HIIT workout 

Focus on recovery after your HIIT training. Have something to eat within an hour after your workout to repair the damaged muscle tissue and refill your glycogen stores.(4) Your focus after HIIT should be on protein, but make sure to combine it with carbohydrates:

  • veggie omelet with a slice of whole-grain bread 
  • protein smoothie
  • Greek yogurt with berries 
  • sautéed chicken or tofu with oven-roasted sweet potatoes 

Takeaway

There are many benefits of HIIT workouts. You’ll get the most out of your training if you give your body the energy it needs to really explore your limits. The right nutrition helps you perform your best during HIIT training and supports your muscles during recovery. Give yourself the right fuel to work hard and feel great!

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Relieve Sore Muscles: 7 Foods that Help

Relieve Sore Muscles: 7 Foods that Help


It’s important to stretch, warm up, and cool down if you want to avoid or relieve sore muscles the day after your workout. But don’t forget that proper nutrition also plays a major role. Which foods and drinks relieve sore muscles?

7 Foods and Drinks for Sore Muscles

1. Beetroot

Drinking 250 ml of beet juice right after an intense workout can reduce muscle soreness.(1) Beets are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. How about a red beet smoothie after your workout? It promotes muscle regeneration.

Red beet juice

Ingredients for one serving:

  • 75 g red beets (pre-cooked)
  • 1 apple
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 150 ml carrot juice

Directions:

  1. Chop the beet and apple into chunks.
  2. Peel the ginger.
  3. Add all ingredients to a blender and purée until smooth. 

2. Caffeine

An espresso before your workout can improve performance. But is caffeine good for sore muscles, too? Studies show that athletes are less prone to suffer from muscle soreness and aches post-workout when drinking caffeine before their training.(2)

Cup of coffee

3. Sour cherries

Relieve sore muscles by drinking 1.5 oz of cherry juice both before and after your workout. Thanks to the juice’s anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidants, your muscles will recover more quickly.(3)

4. Ginger

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. The effects of gingerol, the active component responsible for the sting, are similar to those of the active agent contained in aspirin. If you eat ginger regularly, especially on days you work out, you can reduce muscle soreness.(4)

Ginger

5. Tomato juice

The carotenoids in tomato juice can prevent muscle soreness.(5) Drink this before your workout. 

Tomato juice

6. Fish

The omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish promote muscle recovery and healing.(6)

Fish plate

Good to know:

Do you follow a vegan diet? order to prevent a deficiency in omega 3 fatty acids, you should add supplements to your diet. These days you can find plant-based dietary supplements derived from algae. Check with your doctor or nutritionist.

7. green tea

The phytochemicals in green tea (polyphenols) stimulate blood circulation, which has a positive influence on muscle regeneration. This is a great drink for sore muscles(7)

In Summary

After a tough HIIT workout or a long run, it’s not unusual to experience muscle aches. Include these foods and drinks in your meals and snacks to relieve sore muscles. Don’t forget to take a day off if you’re in a lot of pain. Or, focus on a different muscle group. Your muscles need time to recover.

Other posts you might like: 

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Ketogenic Diet: The Keto Diet Explained

Ketogenic Diet: The Keto Diet Explained


Many different versions of low-carb diets have come and gone over the past several decades, but one carb-restrictive diet that’s been around for generations and is garnering significant attention today is the ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet

This way of eating is often considered the most effective diet to lose weight quickly. The keto diet is also said to be the key to a long, healthy life.

But what is it really all about? In this article, you’ll get the keto diet explained:

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

The keto diet is very high-fat and low-carb way of eating. The goal is to reach a state called “ketosis,” a metabolic state modeled after fasting.

Here’s what the macronutrient distribution looks like on a ketogenic diet:

  • 55 to 60% fat
  • 30 to 35% protein
  • 5 to 10% carbohydrates

An average adult requires about 2000 calories per day. On the keto diet, you are only permitted 20 to 50 g of carbohydrates.(1) However, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a balanced diet should consist of at least 45% carbohydrates.

These foods are allowed in the ketogenic diet plan:

Meat, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts, seeds, low-starch vegetables, avocados and (preferably) vegetable fats.

The term “ketogenic diet” was coined by American physician Russel M. Wilder. In 1921, Dr. Wilder introduced a keto diet to treat children with epilepsy at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. This diet led to a reduction in epileptic seizures. Since then, it has been used as a nutritional therapy to treat epilepsy in children.(2) It can also be used to treat rare metabolic diseases, but always under medical supervision.(3)

What is Ketosis and How do You Get There?

Ketosis is a metabolic state modeled after fasting. So what does that mean in everyday life? By greatly reducing carbohydrate intake in favor of fat, the body enters a state of ketosis. Ketone bodies are produced when fats are broken down in the liver (this process is called beta-oxidation). These can be used by organs (e.g. brain) to supply energy when there is not enough glucose available. This leads to the state of ketosis. 

It is not yet clear how ketosis reduces epileptic seizures. Experts suggest that ketones protect nerve cells, improve the brain’s energy supply, and reduce inflammation.(4)

Temporary side effects of the keto diet

Some people will temporarily experience keto diet side effects while they transition into ketosis, but those symptoms typically subside within 1-2 weeks. 

Potential side effects (sometimes called the “keto flu”):

  • headaches
  • low energy
  • cravings
  • weakness 
  • brain fog

Ketogenic Diet: A Miracle Weight Loss Cure? 

It’s true that you’ll lose weight fast on a ketogenic diet – faster than with a high-carb, low-fat diet. This has been observed in studies carried out over a six month period.(5) Why, you may ask? At the beginning of a low carb diet you lose a lot of water. However, in the longer term, it seems to make little difference. Research showed that weight loss results were ultimately the same. The crucial factor for weight loss is that you are in a calorie deficit. If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume.

A ketogenic diet also seems to have an effect on the hormone balance in your body. One study found that the hunger hormone ghrelin was altered or even suppressed in patients who lost weight on the keto diet.(6) The strict low-carb diet also appears to reduce appetite.(7)

The Ketogenic Diet and Your Gut Flora

Your gut needs fiber to do its job. Healthy adults should consume between 25 and 38 g per day.(8) The two different kinds of fiber – soluble and insoluble – are both important for the intestinal flora. They are mainly found in:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Whole grain products

The problem is that all these foods are forbidden in a ketogenic diet, because they are high in carbohydrates. As you can imagine, this can cause some intestinal problems. A study conducted over ten years examined the effects of the keto diet on 48 children.(9) Results showed that 65% of the kids struggled with severe constipation. This is why it’s especially important to make sure you’re drinking enough fluids if you follow a ketogenic diet.

Do you lose muscle mass on the keto diet?

Some athletes want to try a ketogenic diet, but worry that they will lose muscle mass. This is understandable, considering the importance of consuming a combination of carbohydrates and protein after workouts to build muscle and regenerate.

However, studies on the subject show mixed results. One study showed an increase in muscle mass after ten weeks of the ketogenic diet followed by two weeks of reintroducing of carbohydrates among men who did regular weight training.(10) Other studies(11,12,13) show that muscle mass was maintained but did not increase. Remember to consume plenty of protein and do regular strength workouts.

Do you do high intensity training? A ketogenic diet isn’t the right fit for you. A low-carb diet can have a negative impact on performance.(14)

How much protein do I need?

Find out easily with our protein requirement calculator:

Conclusion

If you want to lose weight fast, the ketogenic diet seems ideal; you’ll see results quickly.

This diet can also work well for athletes, depending on what your goal is.

However, think about whether you can follow the ketogenic diet plan long term and integrate it into your everyday life. In a balanced diet, there is room for all foods in moderation. Variety and balance prevent cravings and the infamous yo-yo effect. This also ensures you’ll have enough energy reserves for tough workouts and training. Plus, high-fiber foods like carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes keep your gut healthy and your digestion regular. 

The keto diet has shown good results for patients with epilepsy and some rare metabolic diseases. However, don’t try to treat your condition without professional supervision (doctors, dieticians). Research continues on how exactly the keto diet works in the body and how it can be used to treat various conditions. 

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