By Jesse Kepka
NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist
Changing your body composition is a battle requiring will-power, consistency and strategy. How bad do you want it?
My body fat percentage and pounds of lean mass over the past several weeks have been mostly stagnant, and after thinking through macros, calories, food choices, workouts including ratios of strength training to cardio, there’s just nothing I can do better. Everything is on point. There are factors such as sleep quality and stress levels that can halt progress, and those two in my life, and everyone’s, will escalate and simmer down in waves. Hello, working-mom-of-boys-and-dog-life.
Instead of messing with the aforementioned numbers and the things I was eating, I decided to try changing the timeframe of consumption, meaning, front-loading calories. Let’s discuss.
I’m very much a functional eater. Food is medicine and energy so that my body can do what I ask of it. No matter what we do for a living, we need the most energy and require the most of our bodies in the first three-quarters of the day. I was making a solid effort to eat the same number of calories and macro distributions, but I was ingesting all but about 300 calories before 3 or 4 p.m. That’s when I need them most. In doing so, we are teaching our body to be efficient in using food for energy, i.e., metabolism.
So many good things happened with this simple change. The daytime sleepies were far less fierce, night time cravings became virtually non-existent, I woke up with energy and it was enough to shock my numbers back into movement. I rocked my last InBody scan.
In discussions with Priority Fit Camp attendees, “saving calories” for big dinners or nights out is a very real and consistent trick, even though there isn’t anything efficient or natural about it. There’s no functional need for a big meal – energy – before bed. It’s all psychological. What ends up happening is not only do you go all in for that dinner for which you were starving yourself, you also far exceed your calorie goal in a ferocious binge. Front-loading can retrain your brain, here. The idea of eating breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince and dinner like a Pauper is not only functional, but it also aligns with our body’s need for energy to slay the day. And remember sleep and stress? Both improve with this simple change in timing.
If you find yourself plateauing in your progress, try this shift in the way you fuel. It will be just enough change to jump start the adaptations for which you’re looking. Most importantly, take the time to care for the vessel that houses the soul. It’s a holy act.