Planning for Success on Vacation Podcast

A new Meal Mentor Co-Pilot Podcast is now available on iTunes and Simplecast!

On this episode, Siri returns to the Meal Mentor Co-Pilot Podcast to reflect on her recent trip to India. Siri shares how she planned for successful eating habits on her vacation, including being active in the forums and observing her behavior in simulated conditions.

Siri also shares exactly what she ate on vacation, and how the meal plans have helped her learn how to balance her meals and understand appropriate portions.

Don't miss this episode!

Read more about Siri's trip here.

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Intermittent Fasting: The Science of Cellular Metabolism (+How a Light Bulb Makes You Fat)

(This post is also a podcast episode! Listen here.)

I know I promised I would finally get to sugar cravings and gut bugs, but after the last episode a lot of emails came in asking about the science behind IF, so here we are in (another) unexpected part 2…

(If you’ve hit a plateau with weight-loss or you still think breakfast is the most important meal of the day… read on)

So what is intermittent fasting?

Fasting intermittently--voluntarily going set periods without food on a specific schedule.

Most IF’ers eat for 8 hours a day, fasting the other 16. This is called the Leangains method. It doesn’t matter when you start your window, just as long as it’s the same window each day.

I first blogged about IF back in October 2012 when a bodybuilder suggested it to me. (I’d plateaued for the second or third time.) I ignored him, rattling off conventional wisdom about how breakfast was the most important meal of the day, you have to eat within an hour of waking up, you need 6 small meals, not eating was bad, blah blah blah

(NONE of that is true, btw. See STS episode 5.)

Noel didn’t offer a scientific rebuttal, just a simple “well, I do it and look at me.”

And sure he was gorgeous.

Ripped, 6-pack that looks airbrushed. Lean! Gorgeous skin too.

But since I liked science, and excuses, I figured well, he’s a dude, and he probably has a superpower metabolism or special DNA that I don’t… so that explains it.

Then The 8-Hour Diet was published in 2013. As much as I wanted to poke holes in another “fad” diet book -- when I read the actual science, I couldn’t. Not completely anyway.

Remember when I was talking about the “slow metabolism” myth last week and I said the question shouldn’t be: “what can I do to speed up my metabolism” but instead:

“what can I do to make my body burn more fat?”

This is where intermittent fasting comes in. It’s not a perfect cheat. You still can’t eat all you want, all calories still count and all that...I’m getting ahead of myself.

How does fasting work for promoting fat burning?

In two ways.

First, it powers up your mitochondria--the “battery packs” in your cells that form the basis of your metabolism, and second, intermittent fasting promotes fat burning.

The Science of Cellular Metabolism

Most of the cells in your body are a caboodle of organelles, mini organs called mitochondria. This is where the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production occur.

Zinczenko, the former Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Health (magazine), and author of the 8-Hour Diet, compares mitochondria to dimmer switches, garden hoses, and home generators, because they increase and decrease energy flow, and act as our own personal power plants.

Basically, these guys are the engine in my Prius vs. Hummer metaphor.

And Like all engines, mitochondria will burn fuel more efficiently, produce more energy, and throw off less waste, if they are properly maintained and not overused.

Except when you eat all day, your mitochondria never get a break from processing calories.

It’s like driving your car all day and night and never stopping to change the oil.

So what does this have to do with fat burning? Wouldn’t an inefficient engine be ideal if weight-loss is the sum game? Don’t we want to be a gas guzzling Hummer?

If only it were that simple...

Your body stockpiles calories in 2 ways: in glycogen in your muscles and liver, and as fat, which is stored in all the places you can pinch.

The glycogen calories are quick-burning and always ready, while your fat is the slow-burning, saved-for-a-rainy-day calories.

Using your groceries as an example: You’re glycogen is a bowl of fresh strawberries--instant food, while you’re fat is a can of dusty chickpeas in the back of your pantry.

So how do you get your body to use the stored up fat?

The same way I get you to use the can of old chickpeas, by taking all other energy sources (food options) away.

That one beautifully simple constant to weight-loss--creating a caloric deficit, is accomplishing that. When your body needs more energy than it’s been given, it starts tapping into your storage, burning your fat for energy. Intermittent fasting simply gets your body to do that sooner.

Let me explain: When you wake up, your body starts looking for energy to burn to power up your arms and legs, so it goes straight to all the quick-energy ready and waiting in your glycogen. (You store about 1500-2000 calories there.)

But then you eat breakfast--oatmeal, a bagel, smoothie, whatever.

And now your body has a NEW source of glycogen to burn--breakfast!

So it stops using what’s stored up and switches to this new stuff.

Your body is thinking, “Why would I eat this dusty can of old chickpeas if there’s fresh fruit available now? That fruit’s going to go bad sooner too so let’s eat the strawberries and stick these chickpeas back in the pantry. What’s another few days or months? It can wait.”

By eating, you basically ran out to the store to buy new groceries, rather than suck it up and eat what was in your cupboard.

And if you don’t completely zero out your pantry before you go shopping, or take care to only buy EXACTLY what you need down to the last tablespoon of tomato paste, that’s exactly how you end up with an overflowing pantry, or excess body fat.

Your pantry and belly are the same here: it’s all food you took in and didn’t use yet.

To lose weight you have to stop the overbuying and duplicate purchasing.

Day after day you do this with eating all the time. Yikes!

Here’s the good news: By intermittent fasting, you can burn more glycogen and consequently, use up the fat stores sooner.

It’s like deciding you’re not going to the grocery store and immediately replace the food you used. Instead, you decide you won’t buy anything until exhausting what’s in the fridge and then use up whatever is in the pantry.

Now maybe you really appreciate the futility of a pantry challenge!

And you’re wondering about snacking late at night, yes, it is also refilling the supplies. It’s the literal midnight run to the convenience store down the street. The more research I read, the more I realize it’s not the time of day that causes the weight-gain. It’s the constant resupply. It also doesn’t help that the foods people eat at night often tend to be high calorie bombs that are more easily absorbed because they’re super processed.

Now I get to be controversial: A lot of people assume I’m anti-exercise. For the record, I’m not against physical movement in and of itself. I simply recognize that it’s a lot easier to control caloric input for weight-loss than it is to create deficiency with caloric output.

Zinczenko has a great statement in The 8-Hour Diet about this (he agrees with me). He says

“It would would take a 155-pound man 15 minutes of jogging to burn off a Twinkie. Which is a lot of time to burn off something you ate in less than a minute.”

It’s too difficult to create the necessary caloric deficit required for weight-loss with exercise, especially if you are overeating, eating highly absorbent foods, and/or have stored calories a.k.a. Excess fat already.

It’s so much easier to create that deficit via your diet, and IF can help you double down on that investment!

And if you still need more convincing that eating less frequently is a good idea, consider this: It’s only in our very recent history that humans have had such glorious access to an abundance of food. Eating three meals a day is a habit exclusive to the developed world and in a lot of developed countries, like France for example, “snacking” is still not really socially acceptable. That’s a very American thing, which I’m sure we can trace back to marketing endeavors.

There’s also new revolutionary research (beyond Wrangham’s energy theory of cooking), that says humans are evolved to eat only a few hours per day, AND that all this constant eating is yet another reason why we’re so obese.

How a Lightbulb Makes you Fat

Take a look at a NASA-NOAA satellite night map. Most of the map is dark, but you see big, bright lights in cities like New York or Tokyo. While looking at these maps, Satchidananda Panda PhD realized where there are more lights, there is more diabetes.

Dr. Panda doesn’t just mean more diabetes cases, because that makes sense. There’s more people in cities so there is more of everything.

Dr. Panda means more in proportion. More risk.

His theory is that the advent of artificial light led to an artificial extension of our feeding times.

For most of human history, humans didn’t have light. We had fire, true, but most humans couldn’t afford to use fire after sunset because it exposed them to predators. It’s only in the last 50 years that we’ve had light at night.

Now, I know what you’re thinking… only 50 years? That can’t be right. I thought so too and fell down a rabbit hole on this history of the light bulb. There were lamps and bulbs in the 1930’s, but it wasn't until the 1940’s that fluorescents entered the picture, and this matters because fluorescents lasted about three times longer which promoted more usage.

The rapid adoption of linear fluorescents can be attributed to the need for energy-efficient lighting in American war plants. Then another energy shortage, the 1973 oil crisis, caused lighting engineers to develop a fluorescent bulb that could be used in residential applications.

In 1976, Edward Hammer at General Electric figured out how to bend the fluorescent tube into a spiral shape, creating the first-ever compact fluorescent light (or CFL). After few design changes, early CFL’s hit the market in the mid-1980’s.

(I’m just old enough to remember the big and bulky bulbs of the 1990s and how often they didn't fit well in our lamps. Now in 2016 we have LEDs and all kinds of super bulbs.)

I’ll stop myself here. If you want to learn more about the history of the lightbulb, go here.

So 50 years of night lights...

...and interestingly, 50 years ago is when first saw rise of weight problems.

Dr. Panda theorizes that artificial light led to an artificial extension of our feeding times, which interferes with our circadian rhythms.

If you’ve ever been camping, that was probably the only time you’ve ever been truly in tune with your circadian rhythm… if you got up and went to bed with the sun, that is.

There’s a natural stop sign with eating built into our circadian rhythms, but most of us run through it every day by eating later because we had to commute home, or workout, etc. before we ate.

Delayed eating, he says, throws off our digestive system as well as the hormones and enzymes that manage it, which means you don’t process and use the consumed energy as efficiently, which means more storage.

Dr. Panda believes not following our circadian rhythms, and reducing our fasting time between meals, is a contributing cause to obesity and diabetes.

If you’re looking for another reason to batch cook the meal plans, I think this is a good one.

It’s too tiring to cook after a long day anyway, but the sooner you can eat, meaning the sooner you can start that fast, or the closer you can live to your circadian rhythm, the better. So batch cook your meal plans guys!

Dr. Panda also does a lot of research with mice. In one study, one group of mice were given the freedom to eat anything they wanted 24 hours a day. The other group had the same freedom, but only for 8 hours. The study lasted 100 days.

The 8-hour mice looked normal but the 24-hr mice were practically twice their size.

This makes me think back to what my husband said in the last episode. He believes IF works simply because your head isn’t in the trough as many hours per day, and I do think that is definitely part of it.

Closing the window of opportunity to take in calories does make it easier not to overeat and create that deficit needed for weight-loss, though now I’m wondering about appestat.

Remember? from the first episode? When I talked about how I became an overeater simply because I developed a habit of eating a lot of volume?

This next part is for my fellow overeaters:

Dr. Panda further divided the mice, giving some of the mice a diet that was higher in fat. The mice who ate a healthier diet stuck to their normal eating pattern but the mice on the high-fat diet tended to expand their eating time, nibbling all day and night.

And just to throw a human study in the mix, in 2011, researchers followed the eating habits of 100 normal-weight and 280 obese participants for 2 weeks. In both groups, the more calories someone ate at breakfast, the more total calories they ate for the rest of the day. If they ate a smaller breakfast or no breakfast at all, their total intake was less.

{Side bar: Have you ever thought about the word “breakfast”? It’s literally break-fast.”}

I’ll end this post with one of Zinczenko’s analogies that brings all this information to life.

He compares the human body to an office building, saying:

“Most people go into the office during the day, work for 8 hours, and go home. Then, at night, the janitorial staff comes in to clean up the trash and repair the damage. The human body operates most efficiently on the same schedule; we just don’t let it… A huge part of food isn’t just nutrition; a lot of it is toxic, things our body doesn’t need. And our stomachs and liver have to break them up and send them out. It’s a huge amount of work, and it’s causing a lot of damage to our system. The stomach lining has to regenerate once a day, and that happens in the middle of the night.”

I’ll be back next week talking more about how environmental changes, such as our light bulbs, have led to obesity and what we can do about it.

{Side bar: I’ve been dying to say this since I started this new podcast: your brain is a pig. A total glycogen glutton. Although your brain is only 2% of your body weight, it demand 20% of your BMR.

If you ever got really hungry writing a book report or felt hungover after a big exam, now you might understand why. If this fascinates you, I’ve included a link to an article titled, “Does Thinking Really Hard Burn More Calories” by Scientific American in the show notes on}

Download your free research-based 7-day meal plan at and leave the guesswork and science to me.

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Is your belly fat the last to leave?

Ain’t that the truth…

Here’s the deal:

WHERE we store fat is determined by our body shape and genetics.

One area (i.e. belly, thighs) is not universally more difficult than others…

It’s just that that one area may be harder FOR YOU.

Take a look around at your coworkers, friends, or people in a crowd.

You’ll notice some people have fuller bellies but leaner legs, others have larger thighs but flat stomachs. Some people may appear even across the board…

Wherever YOU store the most of your fat...

THAT is the last place you’ll see results.

AND since that bulkier area tends to be the place we focus all our attention on…

We often miss the reduction happening in other areas.

For example, I carried the bulk of my weight on my back (under my bra) and in my thighs.

All my focus was on those areas.

I was practically obsessed with pinching my thighs and stare at my back in the mirror looking for some kind of proof they were reducing.

Point is, because I didn’t hate my arms, or think they were “fat”, I never paid attention to them.

It wasn’t until I put on a jacket that used to be very tight and fitted in the arms, that I realized, “Holy smokes! This jacket is sooo loose! My arms shrank!

I had a similar experience with the butt part of a pair of pants.

I was surprised each time, but secretly frustrated.

Why there and not my thighs?

Meanwhile my husband had super lean legs after losing just 10lbs. It felt so unfair until I realized he had his own “trouble area” and that was a spot where I’d lost weight easily. GENETICS.

Here’s the good news: No matter where you store fat, the prescription is still the same.

You have to reduce your OVERALL body fat.

Just remember that where you gain weight first will likely be the last place to go.

Likewise, the last place where you gained weight (which in women is often the boobs), that id usually the first place to reduce.

(Yes, I KNOW. Nature can be cruel to our egos sometimes.)

The best way to reduce body fat is through your diet.

Create a deficit from the “input” side.

Unfortunately, you can’t “spot train” or target one specific area.

Genetics don’t play that way.

This means if you carry most of your fat in your midsection, you’re not going to have “abs” until you reach a very low body fat percentage and all OTHER areas where you store fat (i.e. hips, legs, butt, back, arms, so on) are very lean. It doesn’t matter HOW many crunches you do… you’ll build muscle, sure, but it won’t SHOW until you pull back the curtain of fat.

One (small) caveat: Sometimes our midsections appear bigger or “fatter” than they really are because of bloating, often caused by eating salty or junky foods, though if you have IBS or food allergies, bloating could be caused from contamination with the allergen.

Here’s a picture of our VIP members posted during the March Madness challenge:

This happened within ONE WEEK of her eating “clean” specifically, following the meal plans and quitting her habit of chips and sugary vegan treats.

I found that as I lost weight, my bloating was a lot more noticeable. Even “overeating” on healthful foods would make my stomach look so much bigger.

If you think this could be you too, I recommend doing the Detox meal plan or the Elimination Diet plan (available in the member library on your dashboard) to see.

Cutting back on salt (or at least being more mindful of my use of hidden salts, like hot sauce) has also made a DRAMATIC difference in my midsection. In fact, it was the only way I could get my washboard abs.

Final note: If your have reached a healthy weight but don’t like how you look, or like me, you still had a lot of excess body fat even at a “goal weight”, your focus needs to be on CHANGING YOUR BODY COMPOSITION.

Meaning reducing your body fat percentage (BMI), so you are literally “leaner.”

This all came down to diet for me, but exercise to increase muscle mass can help.

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Overcoming Disordered Eating Podcast

A new Meal Mentor Co-Pilot Podcast is now available on iTunes and Simplecast!

On this episode of the Meal Mentor Co-Pilot Podcast, member Jill opens up about her eating disorder recovery story. Jill shares her experience completing eating disorder treatment, how she's learning to reconcile veganism with restriction, and the many ways she's had to cultivate inner reflection to find healing and nourishment.

Jill also opens up about her autoimmune disease, identifying true hunger, and what "progress not perfection" has taught her about health.

Don't miss this episode!

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The MYTH of Slow Metabolism, Starvation Mode (+ Intermittent Fasting)

(This post is also a podcast episode! Listen here.)

I know I promised to talk about sugar cravings and gut bugs at the end of the last episode, and I assure you I still will, but today’s topic comes up so frequently among our members that I wanted to cover it before we move on to bugs.

If you’re a member of Meal Mentor, make sure you download the weight-loss guide from the member library for more information.

Welcome to your metabolism.

If you’ve had difficulty losing weight, chances are you think you have a “slow metabolism” or you somehow broke your metabolism from past dieting.

Neither is true.

Before I jump into all the science and research that backs me up here (I can feel your skepticism) let me first explain what metabolism actually is.

Metabolism is the process by which your body converts the food you eat (or drink) into energy. Even when you’re asleep, your body needs energy for basic life functions like breathing and circulating blood. The number of calories (how much energy) used for these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Think of your BMR as the number of calories (energy) you’d burn laying in bed all day.

Your BMR is determined by your body size and composition (meaning the percentages of fat, bone, water and muscle), as well as your sex and age, which brings up another false belief: that your metabolism slows as you age. This is half true, but also half false!

As you get older, your muscle mass usually decreases, which consequently slows down the rate at which you burn calories. It’s not the passing of time and getting older that slows your BMR, it’s the change in your muscle mass.

Interestingly, my muscle mass has been totally unchanged for the last two years, but I because I have decreased my body fat, my BMR has changed.

I’ll give you the exact numbers here so you can get a good picture of this.

Sidebar: I used InBody body composition testing to get these numbers, which is the gold standard for determining true body fat and BMI. These machines use Direct Segmental Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) which is a fancy way of saying they send electrodes through the body. It’s totally painless but incredibly accurate while calipers and water tanks are not.

Here are my numbers and I’ll post the scanned reports on for your viewing pleasure.

In December 2013 I weighed 133 total pounds. 32 of those pounds were fat. The rest was lean body mass meaning water and muscle. My body fat percentage was 23%, My BMI was 20, and my BMR was 1360.

I should note quickly that I had already been strictly using the meal mentor meal plans for a year at that point and it was the lowest maintainable weight I’d ever been at in my adult life.

I had another professional set of tests done last month (March 2016), three years after using the meal plans.

My lean mass is literally identical. I have the exact same muscle mass and water as I did in 2013, but I decreased my body fat from 32lbs to 18lbs. I literally only lost fat. 14lbs to be exact, almost half.

My body fat percentage is now 15% (down from 23%) my BMI is 18.4 (down from 21) and my BMR is now 1343 instead of 1360.

First, big thanks to the meal plans and meal mentor. That is incredible. 15% body fat is a real testament that abs are made in the kitchen!

Second, my BMR went down only 17 calories, a reflection of the fat loss and not muscle loss. I’m 5’7” so 1343 is a sobering reminder how efficient our bodies are and how little food we really need even if we are muscular and active. My 6-foot husbands was 1629 and a friend who is about 5’2” came in at 1150.

These numbers inadvertently bring me to another myth.

While men tend to have a higher metabolism than women, it’s not purely because they are male, but because men tend to have less body fat and more muscle mass. They also tend to be taller and bigger overall.

If a man has a higher BMR than a woman of the same age, height, and weight, it is only because he has more muscle than she does.

This next part is simple, though hard to accept about ourselves and what it means for weight-loss: The more you weigh, the more calories you burn, even at rest.

We can all agree an idling mac truck is using more gas than an idling mini cooper.

I can hear it clicking together for you now… but in case it isn’t:

People who weigh more tend to have a faster metabolism (not a slower one).

And as much as we don’t want to believe this, obese and overweight people tend to have a greater energy expenditure than people who are not obese or overweight.

Skinny people do not have a higher metabolism and that whole “high metabolism” thing is a totally false myth too.

While there are some individual variances in metabolism, those who seem naturally blessed with thinness despite their dietary choices aren’t gifted with superpower metabolism.

These people either have a higher total energy expenditure per day due to increased Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT for short) — little movements like twitching, fidgeting, or tapping throughout the day OR they restrict their eating to some degree.

Meaning, they sometimes eat smaller portions or choose healthy foods even though they’d prefer something else. Truth is we don’t see them at every meal. We’re only seeing them at the party or the restaurant and assume that is how they always eat. We underestimate how much they might restrict themselves at other times.

For example, I had a coworker who was very thin. Everyday she went out to lunch and brought back McDonalds, Burger King, Chick-Fil-A, and so on.

It was a mystery how she ate that and stayed so slender.

It wasn’t until I stayed with her for a few days that I got the entire picture. I realized she almost never ate breakfast and if she did, it was a few almonds. Her dinner was a bowl of cereal or a protein shake.

Her diet wasn’t the healthiest, but she wasn’t going over her calories, hence her thinness.

Quick sidebar: new research suggests some people absorb calories more easily than others, so that can be another explanation.

For now, let’s take a breath to recap what we’ve learned so far: There is no such thing as a “slow metabolism” save for exceedingly rare medical conditions that temporarily cause a slow metabolism, but this can be tested for and treated.

You also can’t blame your age or your sex. You can’t really blame your metabolism at all, as it turns out because the one and only beautifully simple thing about weight-loss is what? That’s right, there has to be a caloric deficit.

Thus, even if it is a little bit slower than it was 20 years ago, it’s still not “slow,” or broken, or the reason you’re not losing weight.

If you’re like me you’re thinking, okay I don’t have a slow metabolism, but I probably have a slowER metabolism, what can I do about that?

This is the fun part where I get to disprove “starvation mode” AND turn the worst advice you’ve even been given about metabolism on it’s head.

Raise your hand if you’ve been told that in order to lose weight, you need to eat 6 small meals a day.

That’s wrong. And it’ll actually make you gain weight, probably. More on that in a second.

“Starvation mode” doesn’t exist and intuitively you get that. You might not want to accept it, but the idea that if you don’t eat enough food you won’t lose weight is... hilarious.

But this wouldn’t be a science-backed research podcast if there wasn’t a giant, steamy caveat in every episode, so here’s today’s: Your metabolism will only slow down if you’ve consumed less than 50% of your required calorie intake for several weeks or months AND even then only by 10% AT THE MOST.

So you’re still going to lose weight even if you reached that point.

To be clear, I’m not encouraging you to do that, I’m just making a point to show you that even if you did “screw up” or “slow” your metabolism, it does not matter. You’ll still lose and lose steadily if there is any deficit. PLUS, numerous other studies confirm that once your weight has stabilized, your metabolism goes back up to expected levels.

No deficit = no loss. Broken record on repeat.

Here’s the super fascinating part: New research is showing that fasting, meaning not eating, can encourage the body to burn more fat and not muscle.

And there goes another myth! That weight-loss or dieting or not exercising means you’re losing muscle instead of fat. Not true, but I’m getting ahead of myself and I’ll get more into this later when I talk about Intermittent Fasting.

Let’s back up for a second and finish debunking “starvation mode.”

Research shows there’s no point at which your body stops burning fat, even during prolonged low-calorie diets or fasting.

As long as a caloric deficit exists, you will lose weight no matter if that deficit is small, moderate, or extra-large.

This is why people suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia, or POWs held captive with little to no food, will continue to lose weight, even once they are already underweight.

Shows like Survivor and Naked and Afraid are other good, real world testaments that “starvation mode” is a myth. If “starvation mode” existed, they would not thin out before our eyes. They would look and weigh the same on Day 22 as Day 1.

To be clear, I’m not encouraging or recommending an extremely low calorie “survivor” diet as they are nutritionally inadequate, I’m simply making a point.

Back to the big question: Is there anything you can do to speed up your metabolism?

Unfortunately there is little you can do to change, “jump-start” or speed up your BMR since it’s driven by the demands of your vital organs.

I know, wah. Wah. wah.

This is one reason why that “eat frequently” or “eat 6 small meals” is such crap advice. You can’t “stroke the metabolic flames” AND eating with such constant frequency has a massive downside when it comes to fat burning and weight-loss.

Which brings me to the real question we all should have been asking from the beginning.

The question isn’t “what can I do to speed up my metabolism?” But “what can I do to make my body burn more fat?”

Enter intermittent Fasting.

The premise behind IF is that by fasting you’re finally creating a situation where the body can burn fat as fuel without breaking down your muscles.

It’s all incredibly complex but here’s the best example I’ve come up with. Let’s say you stack up on canned chickpeas because it’s 10 for $10 this week.

There you are, with your 10 cans of chickpeas in your pantry, waiting for the great chickpea shortage of 2016 or the zombie apocalypse to come.

Now let’s say you’re out of all other food so you eat a can of chickpeas. Great! That’s exactly what those chickpeas were there for… But then, an hour later, you go out and buy another can of chickpeas to replace that can.

So your inventory never actually has the chance to go down.

That’s what happens with your body when you eat all day. You fat is the can of chickpeas. You have all this stored up energy for a rainy day but it never ever rains. You never go without food. Your body never has a chance to clear out the pantry.

There are a number of different strategies and I’ll post a link to the methods on, but the one most people have success with, which is the one I tried, is the 8-hour window approach. Meaning, you’re eating during a consecutive 8-hour window every day, fasting the other 16-hours.

Here are my thoughts:

Experimenting with intermittent fasting helped me find a better relationship and awareness with my true hunger.

It helped me see that I don’t need to eat all the time, or all day, and that if I’m hungry, it’s not an emergency.

Other MM members that have tried IF have said fasting taught them that hunger is like a wave, which ebbs and flows, but never gets bigger. They now know they can ride the wave if they have to and not eat out of fear of it getting bigger and “out of control.”

Intermittent fasting also forced us out of the habit of eating just because it was a certain time, rather than eating strictly because we were hungry. IF also broke our habits of fussing constantly about when I was going to eat and worrying about if I need to eat before I do this or that.

Fasting basically stops clockwork-systematized eating while simultaneously creating boundaries which did wonders for my “I’m bored” snacking habit. (It also made me realize I basically conditioned myself to feel hungry at certain times.)

If you think about it — it’s only in our recent history that humans have had such glorious access to an abundance of food. Our three meals a day habit is exclusive to the developed world, too. This is not the norm in underdeveloped nations.

Perhaps what surprised me the most about my experiment with IF was the noticeable increase in clarity and productivity, especially in the mornings. I expected to feel foggy or have low energy having not eaten, but I was more alert.

I also used to suffer from horrible bouts of “hanger” — feeling angry from hunger. I would frequently wake up in the morning or middle of the night ravenous. I also had days where my stomach seemed like a bottomless pit. I was insatiable. All of that went away when I began IF consistently. There is an adjustment period and a few people have said when they go off their schedule, the insatiable hunger and hangriness comes back.

My best explanation is that eating all day long created a lot of shifts and ranges in my blood sugar, which led to those unpleasant feelings. By eating larger meals less frequently, I stayed more level.

The New York Times also ran an article on the benefits of having a shorter eating window (proposing a 12-hour period) citing ample new research that eating less frequently can help cure and prevent obesity. I’ll include a link with the show notes on

This approach isn’t for everyone and does make your social life a bit challenging sometimes, but if you’re having trouble losing weight, you’re stuck at the last 10-15 pounds, you think hunger is an emergency, or you want to experience greater clarity and productivity, and you don’t have a medical condition or eating disorder that might be affected by this, IF could be a good experiment for you.

Lastly, since I’m sure you’re all wondering, what does IF look like with the meal plans? I tend to have my breakfast at 11, my lunch at 1 and my dinner at 6. My husband basically merges his breakfast and lunch into one gigantic meal. You’ll find your stride.

My husband says the reason IF works so well is because your head isn’t in the trough as many hours of the day, which is a fair point. Closing the window of opportunity to take in calories does make it easier not to overeat and create that deficit.

Download your free research-based 7-day meal plan at and leave the guesswork and science to me.

For next week's post I’ll be back talking about gut bugs and sugar cravings. To get notified when we post it join our email list.

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Lifelong runner shares her 11 year journey to a plant-based diet

A new Meal Mentor Co-Pilot Podcast is now available on iTunes and Simplecast!

On this episode of the Meal Mentor Co-Pilot Podcast, Amy details her 11 year journey to a plant-based diet, including learning a new way to cook, and how she learned to live without dairy.

Amy also sheds light on her experience as a lifelong runner, the most effective way to set health-oriented goals, and why it's so important to be an advocate for your own health!

Don't miss this episode!

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