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Intermittent Fasting: Why Eating Every 2 Hours is Bad: Thomas DeLauer
The idea behind the “eat every 2 hours” rule is that frequent eating will keep the body in an anabolic state and keep your fat burning metabolism elevated by keeping you out of starvation mode
This myth is easy to buy into because it seems like it makes sense. By eating frequent, small meals, you’re continuously stimulating your metabolism, and thus burning more calories
In reality, if you keep eating small amounts of food throughout the day, you’ll never burn any fat – this is due to insulin (1)
How it Works
Insulin is a hormone, which means it’s a substance the body produces to affect the functions of organs or tissues, and it’s made and released into the blood by the pancreas
When you eat food, insulin’s job is to break it down into basic nutrients: protein breaks down into amino acids, dietary fats into fatty acids, and carbohydrates into glucose, which then make their way into the bloodstream.
These nutrients must then be moved from the blood into muscle and fat cells for use or storage, and that’s where insulin comes into play: it helps shuttle the nutrients into cells by telling the cells to open up and absorb them.
Whenever you eat food, your pancreas releases insulin into the blood. As the nutrients are slowly absorbed into cells, insulin levels drop, until finally all the nutrients are absorbed, and insulin levels then remain steady at a low, “baseline” level.
So when you’re constantly eating, you’re consistently releasing insulin, which puts your body into its “absorptive phase.”
This means that the insulin in your body is storing sugar — and not letting other enzymes in your body release sugar to break down fat. (1,2)
Fat cells, for example, don’t take up or store glucose.
Instead, they respond to insulin by taking the fats that enter the bloodstream and turning them into fatty acids, which they store in large vacuoles.
*Vacuoles – a space or vesicle within the cytoplasm of a cell, enclosed by a membrane and typically containing fluid*
Thus insulin promotes the uptake and storage of fat in our adipose tissues. While insulin levels are high, our bodies don’t digest or use fats for fuel.
Instead, we rely on the glucose in our blood and tissues. So when trying to lose weight – your body simply won’t break down and use your fat reserves with insulin around. (3)
Insulin inhibits the breakdown of fat cells and stimulates the creation of body fat.
Means that insulin tells the body to stop burning its fat stores and instead, absorb some of the fatty acids and glucose in the blood and turn them into more body fat.
Insulin, the fat-storage and blocking hormone, has a counterpart known as glucagon – a fat-burning and unlocking hormone
About four to six hours after you eat, the glucose levels in your blood decrease, triggering your pancreas to produce glucagon.
This hormone signals your liver and muscle cells to change the stored glycogen back into glucose.
Glucagon signals the fat cells to release free fatty acids (a process called lipolysis), which signals the body to release stored fat to be used as fuel (4,5)
Insulin and Glucagon Study
The Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology conducted a study in which researchers injected one group of rats with insulin and another group of rats with glucagon.
The rats that received the insulin gained body fat and ate more. The rats that received the glucagon lost body fat.
The take home message: Insulin promotes fat storage and it keeps you fat by blocking access to your fat reserves. Glucagon is essential for breaking down body fat and burning it for energy. (5)
1) MYTH: Constant Grazing Boosts Your Metabolism | Jillian Michaels. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.jillianmichaels.com/blog/food-and-nutrition/myth-constant-grazing-boosts-your-metabolism
2) How Insulin Really Works: It Causes Fat Storage…But Doesn’t Make You Fat | Muscle For Life. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-insulin-works/
3) Understanding Our Bodies: Insulin | Nutrition Wonderland. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://nutritionwonderland.com/2010/05/understanding-our-bodies-insulin/
4) Insulin and Glucagon: How Do They Work? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/insulin-and-glucagon#Workingtogether2
5) Unlock Glucagon: Your Body’s Fat-Burning Hormone. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://healinggourmet.com/weight-loss-diet/unlock-glucagon-fat-burning-hormone/
6) The effect of meal frequency in a reduced-energy regimen on the gastrointestinal and appetite hormones in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomised crossover study. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0174820