This is an analogy that Jillian Tedesco, owner and founder of fit-flavors, came up with as a personal trainer to help clients understand the importance of eating smaller meals more regularly, and how it works in conjunction with your metabolism.
The Wheel of Metabolism
Overall, the Wheel of Metabolism is like a hamster wheel, in that the hamster is your metabolism. Every time you eat a meal, you add a peg on the wheel. In the analogy, the hamster has more opportunities to run. Thus, your metabolism has more opportunities to perform work and with consistency over time becomes more efficient at using food as fuel.
Now let’s break this down…
The hamster wheel is a great representation of why it’s important to eat smaller meals throughout the day.
Again, every time you eat a meal, it’s a peg on the wheel. Putting food, AKA macronutrients, in your body causes your metabolism to perform work. The more times you eat during the day, the more times you are asking your body to do work. This increased work load causes your metabolism to gain momentum.
Over time, the more consistent you are with eating smaller meals regularly, the more speed your metabolism will gain and the more efficient it becomes at using food for fuel. Over an extended period of time (about a year…sorry there aren’t any quick, sustainable fixes!), you’ve increased your metabolism.
If you’re also working out, consider that another peg on your hamster wheel. You’re asking your metabolism to do work AND you’re burning calories, at the same time.
Example with Daily Calories
Let’s look at an example of your daily calories spread out throughout the day:
Ex: 1500 calories for daily consumption
3 meals: 400 calories each
2 snacks: 150 calories each
The takeaway here is to spread your calories out throughout the day for smaller, more regular meals so your metabolism has more opportunities to perform work and gain speed and efficiency over time.
Lastly, let’s discuss sleep and the importance of breakfast.
If you eat your last meal at 7PM, sleep 7-8 hours, and then have breakfast at 7AM, that’s 12 hours of fasting.
If you don’t eat breakfast and wait to eat until lunch time (let’s say 12PM), that’s 17 hours of fasting! Your body thinks it’s in starvation mode and doesn’t know how to properly metabolize food once you do feed it during lunch time. This causes your metabolism to work against you, rather than for you.
Retraining Your Metabolism
The good news is that you can retrain your metabolism! Lay out your day, plug in your meal times (everyone’s will be slightly different because we all have different schedules), and have a plan. This is a basic model and you will see results over a period of time with consistency. For a custom plan and accountability, contact Allison Lesko, Licensed and Registered Dietitian at fit-flavors.
Another plus to eating small meals regularly throughout the day to boost your metabolism is that when you want to indulge in calorically dense foods (“comfort foods”) such as a cheeseburger or piece of pie, these foods won’t have as large of an impact on you when you consistently ask your metabolism to perform work v. when you go long periods without eating and you’re body isn’t in the habit of burning food for fuel. Over time your metabolism gains momentum and when you do indulge in those comfort foods your body will work with you to burn them off and use the macronutrients for fuel.
Have questions? Comment below!