By Rhian

We've been told for years that eating every few hours will keep our metabolism high and energy up - but that's not what the science says. In fact, research in endocrine science suggests that eating more frequent meals can increase inflammation and trigger exhaustion, premature ageing and interfere with fat burning. So what's the deal?

What the Science Says

The study looked specifically at metabolic endotoxaemia - which sounds complicated (and it is), but simply put refers to the presence of gut-derived endotoxins in the blood. The main baddie is called LPS, and the problems arise when levels of LPS are elevated in the blood. This triggers inflammation, weight gain and insulin disruption.
'participants who consumed 5 meals per day compared to those with less frequent meal consumption had significantly higher levels of triglycerides and endotoxins in their blood'
The study looked at meal frequency in lean and overweight individuals, and showed that participants who consumed 5 meals per day compared to those with less frequent meal consumption had significantly higher levels of triglycerides and endotoxins in their blood. What's more significant is that endotoxins reached peak levels before bed (9pm), which means the body is left to deal with the toxins & inflammation overnight rather than focus it's energy on repair and restoration.

How to Optimise your Energy

Don't panic, the answer isn't constant hunger. In fact, if you focus on balanced and nutritious meals, you'll probably find you have more energy, mental concentration and a healthier body composition. How?
1) Eat balanced meals
Meals, not snacks. Meals that have a good balance or carbohydrate, fat, protein and vegetables will help regulate appetite hormones and set the stage for healthy insulin balance.
2) Let digestion happen
Don't throw more food in the tank when you're not finished digesting the first round. This leads to fermentation, inflammation and can decrease your energy. If you want to read more about snacking, click here.
3) Watch your fat
Eat fat to burn fat is the popular saying, but we need to be a little more specific. The right kinds of fats will do wonders for our health and are absolutely essential, and the wrong kinds of fats do exactly the opposite. Poor quality fat can induce metabolic endotoxaemia, set the stage for inflammation, trigger weight gain, disrupt hormone balance and upset insulin sensitivity. Steer clear or trans fats, industrial oils, processed meats and too much saturated fat. Focus on high quality omega 3 rich fats and food sources.
4) Plan some digestive rest

For some people, intermittent fasting is too much. But you don't need to fast completely to benefit from the results, especially if you're someone who excises regularly and has a high energy expenditure. If you often wake up exhausted, have low energy in general or think your metabolism is in a rut, try limited your evening intake of food for 3 weeks and see what happens. In practice, this could mean that four dinners per week are lighter than usual. This could be a small serving of good quality protein and some green soup or steamed greens. Make sure the meal is healthful - meaning veggies, protein and fibre - and keep the portion small. This still gives you flexibility to go out and socialise on the other three nights but is enough to help you see a change. If four is too much then start with three.


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