Hypoglycemia and the Myth of Eating Frequent Small Meals

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small frequent meals and hypoglycemia

In a previous newsletter and blog post, I wrote an article about the dangers of eating frequent small meals. You can read it here.

Most people believe they need to eat frequently to avoid hypoglycemia. In fact, eating small, frequent meals has never been proven to accelerate weight loss despite what many experts claim. In fact, there are many more studies that suggest that less frequent eating promotes more rapid weight reduction.

And further, most people who claim they are hypoglycemic (and attribute feeling uncomfortable if they skip meals) really don't experience true hypoglycemia. Many of the people I've worked with have discovered that their blood sugar is actually up when they experience the out of balance feelings they were misled into believing were symptoms of low blood sugar.

Many people do experience what's known as “reactive hypoglycemia”, where their blood sugar plummets after being high, triggering too much insulin secretion, then going too low because of the over clearance of sugar from the blood due to high levels of insulin.

Why It's Best to Space Your Meals 5 – 6 Hours Apart

The first three hours after you eat, your body produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin's job is to clear the sugar from your blood and pass it on to your muscles and liver so they can do their job.

About an hour after eating, if your insulin level and blood sugar levels are starting to come down as they should, then growth hormone is released. Growth hormone, in the early post-meal stages, triggers the build up of muscle protein, which is enhanced by the presence of insulin.

When insulin is activated, and when your body is functioning normally, your liver and muscles take on as much glycogen (your body's storage form of sugar) as possible.



While Insulin is Active in Your Bloodstream, Fat Burning is Not Possible

time for optimizing fat burningAbout three hours after you eat a meal, your insulin level should be back down to where it was before your meal, and your liver begins to kick into high gear, mobilizing glycogen into blood sugar.

At that point you begin to burn fats that are in your blood for energy, thus putting to good use fats that would otherwise go into storage as unwanted fat!

More than four hours after eating, growth hormone begins to mobilize fat for fuel. However, this use of fat for fuel only happens when insulin levels are very low.

Why Snacking Between Meals is Self-Sabotage

The period in between meals should be an opportunity for your liver to exercise and clear out glycogen.

If you snack between meals or eat a meal too soon after the previous one, your liver's exercise routine is blocked, thus setting you up for obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes. When your liver doesn't get enough exercise, it can synthesize excessive cholesterol, leading to elevated blood lipids even if the food you eat contains no cholesterol.

If your muscles are well toned, they will use up fat between meals much faster than untrained muscles. In fact, muscle tone can provide you the energy that you need to keep going all day long.

When you eat too soon after a previous meal, insulin levels rise too soon, turning off your liver's exercise routine, inhibiting fat burning, and causing calories to be stored rather than burned. Plus, your energy will plummet and you may suffer from food cravings.

If you consistently eat meals too close together, you'll cause your pancreas to fatigue, your insulin receptors to become resistant, and you'll struggle with your weight.


If You're Hungry Between Meals

Feeling weak or hungry sooner than 5 – 6 hours after eating a meal can be due to:

  • hunger and hypoglycemiaNot eating enough at the previous meal
  • Eating too many carbohydrates at the previous meal
  • Impaired digestion and absorption
  • Being out of shape
  • Weak adrenals
  • A sluggish and congested liver
  • Exhaustion
  • Diabetes
  • Insulin resistance
  • Leptin resistance


As you can see, the biochemistry supports eating meals less frequently rather than more frequently. The ideal meal spacing gap appears to be 5 – 6 hours between meals with a 12-hour period between your evening meal and morning breakfast.

Support from Experts

According to Dr. Dennis Clark, author of The Belly Fat Book, “The recommendation of eating six small meals per day, to keep the furnace burning hot, has become dogma in some circles. However, the common advice for frequent meals to keep the body's furnace burning hot makes no sense physiologically or biochemically.”

In the book Eat Stop Eat, Brad Pilon quotes Dr. Tim Crowe, nutrition specialist at Deakin University in Melbourne, as saying that the six meal per day diet is a “faddish dieting trend, with very little research in support of it.” Crowe notes that some research suggests that playing around with when you eat may actually cause you to put weight on.

According to Pilon, 56 percent of adults eat between two to four times a day, while 37 percent eat five to seven times daily.

The “three meals per day” eating pattern becomes more critical for keeping a low body fat percentage as you age and your metabolism slows down. This slow-down can be partly corrected by regular strenuous exercise.

What To Do if You Have Hypoglycemia

If you think you can't space your meals because you have hypoglycemia, think again.

hypoglycemia hunger strategiesGet a blood glucose meter and check your blood sugar between meals.

When hunger comes on too soon, stave it off with water flavored with essential oils, or lemonade made with water, lemons, and a pinch of stevia, if desired.

Make friends with hunger. It can be your friend.

Hunger indicates that your body is in fat burning mode. If you learn to tolerate a little hunger and gradually increase the space between meals, you'll be rewarded by weight reduction, hormone balance, and improved blood lipids.

Give it a try. I have had patients who only did the meal spacing when we first started working together and began to release pounds that had, up until then, been stuck for a long time.

When it comes to meal spacing and what's best, which do you want to believe? Modern day dogma or the science of how your body works?



Comment Below:

How long do you leave between meals?



References

  • Bellisle F, et al. Meal Frequency and energy balance. British Journal of Nutrition. 1997; 77:(Suppl. 1) s57-s70.
  • Byron, J. Richards, CCN. Mastering Leptin.
  • Clark, Dr. Dennis. PhD. Belly Fat Book: 5 Steps to a Slimmer and Healthier You.
  • Halberg N, et al. Effect of intermittent fasting and refeeding on insulin action in healthy men.  Journal of Applied Physiology 2005; 99:2128-2136.
  • Heilbronn LK, et al. Alternate-day fasting in non-obese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2005; 81:69-73.
  • Moller N, Jorgensen JO. Effects of growth hormone on glucose, lipid and protein metabolism in human subjects. Endocrine Reviews. 2009; 30:152-177.
  • Pilon, Brad, MS. Eat, Stop, Eat.
  • Verboeket-Van De Venne WPHG, et al. Effect of the pattern of food intake on human energy metabolism. British Journal of Nutrition. 1993; 70:103-115.
  • Vogels N, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Successful Long-term weight Maintenance: A 2-year follow up. Obesity: 15 (5); 2007 1258-1266.

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47 Comments

  1. LynnCS

    OMG! This really scares me. I’ve done everything wrong and struggle with it all. I’m 73 and just crying after reading your article. What to believe? What to do?

    Reply
  2. Marcia

    Hunger is not the most problematic symptom of hypoglycemia. I get light-headed, confused, angry, and unable to speak if my blood sugar gets too low. I have taken the glucose tolerance test and apparently my liver does not kick in and release the glucogen when I need it. If I don’t snack, I can’t function. I wish I could wait five or six hours between meals. It’s a pain to carry food around and always be concerned about having an opportunity to eat before I get woozy.

    Reply
  3. Juliann

    I really enjoyed your article – it provided some answers as to what I’ve been struggling with. I have hypoglycemia due to high insulin levels. It’s been a nasty cycle, where I feel shaky if I go over 2 hours without eating, but I know I need to eat less often to lower my insulin levels. How long does it take to get over these yucky shaky feelings? A week? A month? I have been unable to ignore the discomfort when I try to go without snacking for even a day, so I always end up giving in and eating something to make myself feel better.

    Reply
    • Ritamarie Loscalzo

      rather than stopping cold, try increasing the time between food intake gradually so your body gets used to it

      Reply
  4. Bridgit

    OMG, I recently started eating every 2 hours after listening to a lecture on adrenal health that recommended this. Didn’t know how I gained 5+ pounds from eating healthy, but I knew something was wrong. Now I’m having bigger meals and losing weight, so you are spot on, thanks!

    Reply
  5. Joan D. Ford

    USA salt content in Food is way too high if we are to maintain 2000mg. A bagel has about 560 mg. Just start checking out the salt content in food. Even tomato paste and canned tomatoes have too much salt. Then the sugar -wow 39 grams in a coke not X1000 to find out the mg. ?
    Salt though is an American disgrace. So is it really the pasta or is it the sauce?

    Joan D. Ford

    Reply
  6. kannan

    What about people who eat fruits & vegetables separately 1 hour before the main meal as they are told to, since fruit digests quicker?

    Reply
    • BayariM

      Hi Kannan,
      Good question; thanks for writing to us.
      It’s about meal-spacing e.g. gaps between meals rather than just food-combining (e.g. eating fruit separate from other food).
      does that answer your question?
      Wishing you Well
      Bayari (your friend forum moderator)

      Reply
  7. kannan

    No, the reason I asked is that fruit and vegetables don’t satisfy hunger, so they can’t replace one of the 3 meals of a day. And you have to eat them separately as well. How can one follow both, in a way that improves insulin sensitivity, other than giving up on fruits and veggies.

    Reply
    • Chris Mole

      You dont need to eat fruits and vegetables separately. This is a myth. Look at traditional societies where people live long and healthy lives. They eat three meals a day and no snacks. They finish their meal quite often with fruit. So don’t worry about this.

      Reply
  8. Kirsty

    I am just starting out on an eating plan where I have to keep 5 hours between meals. Yesterday was my first day of doing this and I thought I was going to die! Today is no easier, in fact I keep getting dizzy, feeling hot/cold, sounds seem far off, I am not concentrating and it feels like my brain has shut down. I am drinking water in between my meals as this is allowed (I need to do 2 litres a day!). The water acts as a small disguise to the hunger but its not helping with the restless, horrid other side effects. And without my daily chocolate I feel like just shutting out life!!! Urgh!

    Reply
    • Ritamarie Loscalzo

      I usually recommend a gradual lengthening of the time between meals…starting with 15 minutes longer than before until you reach 5 hours. It’s a little bit easier that way. We go through lots of resources and techniques to make this happen in my B4 Be Gone program http://www.b4BeGone.com

      The results are worth it!

      Reply
  9. suz

    I’m still trying to find the right timing so I don’t get hot/cold, confused, blurry vision, etc. The biggest factor is breakfast; if I get off to a bad start in the morning, I am in agony all day and can’t seem to eat enough to make up for it. The catch is, I’m nauseous when I wake and don’t want to eat, and I’m not a fan of eggs or dairy. Yesterday I was in a situation where I had to eat breakfast late, but took an Extend snack bar (carry them with me). I was concerned about sugar stability…I had fresh orange juice (not packaged), eggs w/cheese, and grits w/butter, just 3 bites of bacon, and it was like medicine: I felt the best I’ve felt in months…no hunger or pain for 5 hours after! Strange that I didn’t crash an hour later…I did get sleepy 4 hrs later. For dinner, little pasta with lots of ground turkey, cheese, and just a drop of sauce plus dark green salad with just a drop of dressing. Again, felt good for 3 hours afterward thanks to the protein/fat/fiber combo. Notice the lack of bread in both meals – I think bread is the devil- it’s a love/hate relationship. 😉

    Reply
  10. Dave

    Great article! I have been doing intermittent fasting for over a year now, and I can still remember having the feelings of light headedness for the first few weeks. I found that once my ghrelin levels adjusted and my body took to the new rhythm, these feeling disappeared. Since starting fasting I have lost around 15kg, while putting on a nice bit of muscle. And even more importantly, I feel incredible. Stomach problems like IBS that used to plague me are gone, I wake up full of energy, and sleep better than ever. Switching from frequent meals, to fasting has been one of the best choices I’ve made.

    Reply
  11. Nina

    So true! I have started this a two years a go and have lost 20kg in total and the imortant thing is that I have kept it off.
    I’ve also incorporated the advice of Dr Michael Mosley to have 2 days in a week at 500 calories to give the body an even ‘better break’.
    I wish I had found all of this earlier as I have been on yo-yo diets since my kids were born.
    Finally I can fit in my pants from before my first pregnancy.
    Give it a try and as suggested in this great article by Dr. Ritamarie don’t be afraid of hunger. Make it your friend and you will notice everything tastes better with it!

    Reply
  12. Philip

    I am insulin resistant and have tried both eating approaches. I am on a low carbohydrate diet and use a blood glucose meter to follow the results. I know we are all different but for me the 5-6 hour interval between meals easily provides the better results. Takes a bit of getting used to but its well worth the reward of better health.

    Reply
  13. Melanie

    When I tried the 5 or 6 little meals a day diets it was miserable, “I have to eat again?!” Then after a week I started to be hungry every three hours. Next thing I knew I would have at least an hour before my next meal was due and I would get hypoglycemic symptoms. Nothing like standing in checkout line trembling not knowing if you were going to cry, kill someone, or pass out.

    Reply
  14. Melanie

    Intermittent fasting was to much for me the other way. I liked it but I started to get a bit weird eating less and less not on purpose

    Reply
  15. marcy

    I have just figured this out on my own but wanted to find an article to support what I’m experiencing. My weight loss has been quite quick. So far I have been doing this for five days and have lost 7 pounds. I remember eating like this as a child. During my pregnancy 5 years ago I got into the habit of eating more frequent meals and have been unable to lose the weight. Everyone tried to convince me that I was just getting older and that my metabolism was slowing down.
    At this rate I am confident that I will get to my goal weight by the end of next month.
    It is uncomfortable at first but the human body was made to adjust. If you change your mind then your body will follow.
    Also, my blood pressure is starting to normalize. Drink lots of water.

    Reply
  16. max

    This is all well and good but i’m actually hypoglycemic, like diagnosed by a doctor, non-diabetic hypoglycemia. it runs in my family. it puts me at risk of brain damage. If i took your advice i would probably die or become brain dead. I am at risk of seizures due to my hypoglycemia. i have even woken up all sore and sweaty because i went to bed hungry and i had a seizure in my sleep. I also cannot use any form of artificial sweetener. I’m allergic to all of them, splenda, stevia, aspratame. i get nausea because my body goes through the motions of digesting, absorbing, and using the sugars. only for there to be none. i haven’t been able to chew gum in years since they only ever make it with aspartame now. I know there are allot of woman who believe they are hypoglycemic since it is the easiest explanation for them. it is not always the case. I am a man, when I eat every 3-4 hours, I burn fat. when i don’t eat enough, my body goes into starvation mode and stores it all as fat. I hate that i seek for advice only to find people writing blogs about something they have little to no idea about…

    Reply
    • Vibrant Living Care Team

      Hi, Max, First of all, when we recommend people prolong their meal spacing, we also realize that it is not something that may be able to happen right away. Your body is used to more frequent meal spacing, and to suddenly increase that would be hard for it to adjust. We do ask people to pay attention to how they are feeling when they go to eat. So, if you are feeling feverish and achy, by all means, you need to eat. We are advising people to not just eat every few hours simply because they think they are supposed to. It’s important to understand how hunger reacts in our body, and to determine whether or not you are truly hungry. Everybody is different.

      We also are very much against artificial sweeteners. Wholesome concentrated sweeteners can be tolerated by most hypoglycemics if eaten occasionally and moderately. The best metabolize most slowly, are processed least, and thus contain the most complete nutrition. It is also probably a good thing that you haven’t been able to chew gum for years, as there is no nutritive value to it.

      Hypoglycemic persons are not only mineral-deficient but also usually lack adequate essential fatty acids (EFAs); this often manifests in one or more of these signs: dry hair and skin, low body weight, poor glandular function (especially of the pancreas and adrenals), and liver/gall bladder-related imbalances (according to the liver function of Chinese medicine) such as irritability, depression, nervousness, pains, and cramps. Adequate essential fatty acids are usually available in a diet based on unrefined vegetables, grains if tolerated, legumes, and nuts and seeds. In the initial stages of healing hypoglycemia, however, it is helpful to add extra EFAs of exceptional quality such as those found in flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.

      Reply
  17. Travis

    I have a lot of the same symptoms as Max the comment above me I have a lot of intense nausea and cramps and lack of appetite in the mornings. I tend to go for some kind of protein usually eggs. My lunch is a big consisting of protein easy chicken or beef with some kind of complex carbohydrate like sweet potatoes and brown rice or steamed vegetables like broccoli and carrots and cauliflower. But still I can’t seem to go more than 4 hours that eating otherwise I break out in an intense sweat that will sometimes soak my clothing. I noticed that the more refined carbohydrates in my meal the sicker I feel later on so I do try to avoid them as much as possible. I’m intrigued by your suggestion of slowly increasing the time between meals in 15 minute increments I think I’ll try that. Do you have any critics or advice k

    Reply
    • Vibrant Living Care Team

      Hi, Travis, Good for you for wanting to try something that could be a good thing for your body. When you start out with each 15 minute increment, let the time go past and see how you feel. You may want to document it, either by writing it down in a notebook or an electronic device. Include how you feel physically as the thoughts going through your mind. Don’t move on from that 15 minute space of time until your body has adjusted to it. Then try another 15 minute increment.

      As you noticed, you will want to avoid denatured and refined foods. These foods lack the minerals and other nutrients which control all metabolic activities, including insulin production. Foods that might help are quinoa, seaweeds, micro-algae (especially chlorella and spirulina), mung bean sprouts, beets, string beans, kuzu, persimmon, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, and watermelon. It is beneficial to prepare some of the daily food in a watery medium, as in soups and congees, juices, smoothies, and elixirs. Herbs which could be helpful are prepared rehmannia root, asparagus root, aloe vera gel, and silver colloid. You may have also noticed in our response to Max some information about essential fatty acids that could also be helpful to you.

      Reply
  18. Iris

    Ritamarie, I really found your article both informative and useful. I plan to change my eating habits as you have suggested. The only issue I have is the statement regarding hypoglycemia. When I do not eat for 5 to 6 hours (or more), I get weak, dizzy, nauseated, migraine headaches and I began to sweat perfusely! If I do not eat after all of that, I literally pass out. Once I re-gain consciousness, I have diarrhea and vomiting. The only things that make all of this go away is orange juice, a tablespoon of sugar or food. So according to your acticle, would you say that this is merely discomfort from wanting to eat and can’t? Or could this be true hypoglycemia? Because it is very ugly and if I am not careful, very dangerous in certain situations. Still love the article regardless.

    Reply
    • Lynn Johnson

      Hi, Iris,

      What we generally suggest for people trying to change their eating patterns is to try to extend their time to 15 minutes. So, for example, if you eat every three hours, try going 3 hours and 15 minutes. See how you feel during that extra 15 minute period of time. Many find it beneficial to journal what they ate and how they are feeling. Also taking your blood sugar using a glucose meter after your meal in 15 minute increments will see if your blood sugars are rising from certain foods.

      As was pointed out in a previous response, hypoglycemic persons are not only mineral-deficient but also usually lack adequate essential fatty acids (EFAs); this often manifests in one or more of these signs: dry hair and skin, low body weight, poor glandular function (especially of the pancreas and adrenals), and liver/gall bladder-related imbalances (according to the liver function of Chinese medicine) such as irritability, depression, nervousness, pains, and cramps. Adequate essential fatty acids are usually available in a diet based on unrefined vegetables, grains if tolerated, legumes, and nuts and seeds. In the initial stages of healing hypoglycemia, however, it is helpful to add extra EFAs of exceptional quality such as those found in flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.

      Reply
  19. Donald steward

    Seriously – is this for real – I work construction – gym- and try to be active all day – I started eating the 5/6 meals a day trying to lose weight 3 years ago to promote muscle and metabolism – it worked went from375 to 235 then got sick one day and found out I’m hypo- as far I know I was supposed to keep this style up – and completely avoid sugars and fruits and crazy carbs- I recently have been struggling after every meal – points keep slamming – so I’ve been snacking all day on nuts protein bars and – the best I can get in rice cakes and bread and nut butters and veggies – I even cut out all sports nutrition – seems like everything I stop I get worse – I even ate veggies and egg whites for breakfast and felt like crap all day today – I’m clueless on what to do and have done so many blood test and I wish they would find something wrong so I can get this fixed and go back to my life – I’m back up to 275 -scared to do cardio and about to cut out lifting weights all together ——- I don’t drink smoke or eat unhealthy – I bought some organic protein for breakfast and I’m reading seed extracts are bad for people with our situation – every meal I ate today my stomache hurt after and I’m talking small meals- I saw a dietician that wanted me to break my meals up 5/6 a day and eat more carbs as sugars – I lasted 2 days until I had rapid crash over and over all day – and have been messed up ever since – hypo needs food to stay up – not debating I’m not a professional I just don’t want to end up on the door at work curled Ina ball gasping for help —– if you seriously can help me please do – I’m not rich – I’m a Normal American that wants to love a normal life – if you can help please do

    Reply
    • Donald steward

      My main reactive times are in the morning after first or second meal that usually consist of 20gcarb (cereal,kind,veggies) and a protien shake 25g or egg whites or chicken of 25g protein —— and it hits me suddenly during intense activity – strenuous work -gym – cardio -etc – the morning reactions take a couple hours to feel good agin – which I’m scared I may lose my job one day – the active reactions scare the crap out of me because I don’t see the signs until it’s to late – but I do get something in me before it gets worse – seems that heat does it as well

      Reply
      • Lynn Johnson

        Hi, Donald, Thank you for sharing your experience with us. It sounds like this is quite frightening for you. Besides losing your job, you want to make sure you are able to live a full and healthy life. Who doesn’t!

        While this is more than can be answered in a blog post reply, know that hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, often develops from the same kind of dietary extremes that cause diabetes, but instead of a diabetic shortage of insulin, an excess is produced. In time, if insulin overproduction continues, the pancreas becomes overworked, and loses its ability to produce sufficient and/or effective insulin, the result being diabetes. This is why hypoglycemia often precedes the onset of diabetes.

        To resolve a hypoglycemic condition, you must control insulin production. Avoiding denatured and refined food is one answer, because these foods lack the minerals and other nutrients which control all metabolic activities, including insulin production. Refined flour or sugar, for example, is composed primarily of carbohydrates that deliver energy and warmth. The minerals that are refined away would have been incorporated into the blood, hormones, and various body fluids to cool, moisten, and subdue the burning of sugars into energy. The hypoglycemic body robs its own tissues of these needed minerals, thereby losing the deep controlling reserves that stabilize it during dietary extremes and stress in general. Thus, those with low blood sugar may notice fluctuations in blood sugar levels according to what was eaten at the last meal. Do you have a glucose meter and check your blood sugar levels?

        High-protein diets have been (and still sometimes are) considered a cure for hypoglycemia, because protein digests slowly, supplies energy gradually, and does not trigger excess insulin production. But a high-protein diet causes other serious problems. The high-protein foods that seem to work best over time are the chlorophyll-rich types recommended in diabetes – spirulina, chlorella, wild blue-green, and cereal-grass products.

        I encourage you to go here to learn more – http://www.drritamarie.com/go/12hourbreakreg

        If there is anything more we can help you with, please feel free to let us know.

        Lynn DeBuhr Johnson
        Dr. Ritamarie Programs
        Institute of Nutritional Endocrinology

        Reply
  20. Theresa

    I have reactive hypoglycemia and eat every 2 hrs and constantly gaining weight . I don’t exercise often. But my question is how many carbs are people really eating ? I am only eating 15 carbs per meal. When I don’t eat often I get weak and have rubbery legs .

    Reply
    • Lynn Johnson

      Hi, Theresa! I would suggest that at those times you have the sensation of hunger, instead drink some water, or even some green water. Whatever you do, especially as you are starting this, keep it light, and extend the time out as long as you can. Consider this a time to retrain your hunger hormones to have a longer space of time between meals.

      Also, are you checking your blood sugar using a glucose meter during the day, and especially after meals? This will also be another good way to see what is happening within your body.

      If you haven’t read this article already, I think you will find some value in it. After you have, let us know how else we can help you, or thoughts on what you learned.

      http://drritamarie.com/blog/blood-sugar-level-balance-strategy-3-to-reduce-belly-fat-and-brain-fog/

      Reply
  21. E

    I have read through everything here. And I feel you don’t understand. When my sugars drop, I become seriously ill. Migraines, nausea, shaking, sometimes even blacking out.

    I understand the idea behind the article but for someone like myself to listen that my symptoms are only hunger related and to drink water to get myself between the 6 hour meal recommendation…well I would end up hospitalized.

    Yes. This would work for some. But please be careful when giving these advices, which should be seen through by a doctor and hopefully a nutritionalist.

    To remain balanced I take my 1500 calorie a day and equally separate calories into my mini meals. Each have a dense protein, complex carb, healthy fat and fruits and vegetables. Tons of water.

    No sugar. No white or simple carbs. No alcohol. No processed foods. Limited caffeine.

    And this works. It is tough. But no different from anyone else with restrictions due to allergies or severe diseases.

    Reply
    • Lynn Johnson

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I can hear your sense of frustration when you think Dr. Ritamarie doesn’t understand when she wrote these things.

      Dr. Ritamarie didn’t write this article to brush aside your physical feelings of shaking, nausea, migraines, and blacking out. Those are serious conditions, and ones in which I would encourage you to work with your health practitioner on to find the root cause of all this.

      Eating throughout the day causes our pancreas to become exhausted and our liver to become lazy. We need to create a balance of work and rest between the two. Not releasing stored glucose from the liver is bad news, especially if we are inactive. If those liver stores are full, the carbohydrates will be converted to triglycerides and sent to storage. If you feel fatigued and moody every 2-3 hours if you do not eat, then this is a sign of insulin resistance. Your energy and mood are being driven by blood sugar swings. Your pancreas is constantly releasing insulin, and any leftover insulin in the blood will spike hunger and dip energy. Remember, high insulin equals high leptin. The snack may alleviate the symptoms temporarily, but, done over the long haul, it will lead to insulin and leptin resistance.

      Eating 3 meals a day seems to be an effective way to avoid the stressors of undereating or going too long without food, while allowing for our fat burning hormones to do their job. I would encourage people to get to the point that these meals are to be spaced apart every 5 hours. This allows for equal time between insulin and glucagon and an equal work-to-rest ratio for our liver and pancreas. If hunger persists, try eating more at the previous meal, especially protein, or try taking some digestive enzymes with each meal. People who partake in intermittent fasting rave about its ability to stimulate fat loss, and show some studies to support this. I personally believe 16 hours between two meals is too long. You can have the weight loss effects spacing out dinner from the night before and breakfast 10-12 hours, since that is what some people are looking for. This decreases the risk of causing excess stress and allows for substantial time in the fat loss area.

      The idea that is presented in this article is not to go cold turkey with 5 hours between meals. Dr. Ritamarie suggests to people that they start with an extra 15 minutes between meals and see how you do. When you get that 15 minutes down where you don’t feel bad, then add on another 15 minutes and see how you do.

      You mention that your condition is no different than anyone else with allergies or other severe diseases. Dr. Ritamarie also works with people with these conditions, and we work to get to the bottom of why it is happening.

      Also, Dr. Ritamarie is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, and has a Masters in Nutrition. These are things she has studied for a long time, as she saw how it affected her family, contributing to the death of her parents and a sister. She doesn’t want that for people.

      Reply
    • c

      Respectfully, I disagree with this article as well. A nutritionist doctor does not have the whole health training of an MD. A cautious and skilled ND works together as part of a health team.

      It is not safe nor healthy to be presenting this as a solution to people it could harm. There are many reasons for the several small meal and snack based diets. They do work well for some and for some are mandatory for optimal health. Hypoglycemia can be very severe and yes, the best treatment is diet. Someone simply feeling fatigued and moody is not hypoglycemic; they may be a sugar addict (been there) but hypoglycemia often causes severe symptoms as described (migraines, fainting, delirium, nausea, sleep disturbance, and some long-term systemic effects). Yes, there may be other contributing factors, but hypoglycemia is a condition in itself that can effect people with very healthy diets and lifestyles.

      I don’t mean to be rude but it’s worrisome that a “doctor” would present information this way which goes utterly against current and longstanding research of the best practices…. and even moreso, to present solutions to people without knowing their medical history. Of course it’s up to us to do our research and talk to our doctors before following internet advice, but not everyone has the ability to do so or may be desperate.

      The goal here seems to be sale of products and programs. I am sure there will be a post to disagree, but… please be cautious following this advice.

      Reply
      • Marcia Patrice

        Hello C, Thank you for your comments. MDs typically get very little training in nutrition. There is not a one-size-fits all nutritional plan — and even one person’s nutritional and life style plan may change based on many factors. Dr. Ritamarie is also suggesting that people test themselves to see where their blood sugar is for them between meals when they think they are hypoglycemic. Each person has to have the interest and take the time to learn about their body and what works for them. For many, we have found that spacing between meals helps metabolism and hormonal health, resulting in more energy, weight loss, and other positive effects. There are some references in the article, and you can find more support for this in the many MDs who are proponents of Intermittent Fasting, such as Dr. Jason Fung, a Harvard study, the work of Valter Longo, PhD, and more. In good health, Marcia, team member for Dr. Ritamarie

        Reply
      • Chris

        Most traditional societies around the world eat three meals a day with no snacks. In countries like Japan, Korea, France etc, it is regarded as unhealthy to eat between meals. In Korea, even children are told they must not snack. They have to learn self discipline and to delay gratification.

        If you are fainting with hunger between meals, look at what you are eating at meal times. You might need to eat more fat and/ or protein to keep your blood sugar balanced.

        Reply
        • Angelica

          I couldn’t agree more, Chris. Many people are used to keeping their blood sugar HIGH all day which is not what we want at all. In general we recommend waiting at least 4-6 hours between meals. This is also very helpful for activating the migrating motor complex, the intestines natural motility cycle that starts 2 hours after you finish eating.

          Reply
      • Laura Deller

        I’m not sure if you realise that a so-called MD gets one nutrition subject 9nce in their entire 7 years of medical training.
        So I would much rather put my trust in a person who has trained 3-4 years in nutrition specifically.

        Reply
        • Angelica Martin

          Laura, you are correct in that most medical programs require minimal (like a few hours) of nutrition curriculum. Our goal is to empower YOU as the patient to awaken your inner healer and use your newfound knowledge to work in conjunction with your one-on-one medical practitioner.

          Reply
  22. vicky

    Hi there,

    I was just wondering if i could do this while pregnant? thanks!

    Reply
    • Lynn Johnson

      Hi, Vicky! First of all congratulations on your pregnancy and impending birth! As the mother to seven, I know so many of the emotions you can have as you prepare for this new adventure in your life.

      Eat according to your need. Again, sharing from my experience, I still ate about 3 meals a day, spaced the same as before. I just ate a little more.

      Ideally you would like at least 3-4 hours between meals, but if you are a thin woman with high metabolic rate, you will most likely need to eat more frequently than someone that may have some excess weight and has a slower metabolism.

      Reply
  23. roxanne

    Excellent Article! I would like to know what should be included in each of the three meals. I regurally eat between the three meals a protein and a fruit in order to avoid the Hypoglycemia symptoms. should I eat more in each three meals?
    I’m developing an insulin resistance due to the PCOS and apparently thats causin me the hypoglycemia.

    Reply
    • Lynn Johnson

      Hi, Roxanne, I’m very happy to hear that you found value in Dr. Ritamarie’s blog post. I am also grateful that she shares from the vast wealth of knowledge she has.

      Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) occurs when the level of glucose in the blood, drops below a certain point. A number of symptoms occur which usually disappear within 10 to 15 minutes of eating sugar. The symptoms can include some or all of the following: paleness, trembling, perspiration, feeling weak, rapid heartbeat, feeling hungry and agitated, poor concentration, blurred vision, and even a temporary loss of consciousness.

      Hypoglycemia is generally caused by too much insulin in the blood, but there are other diseases that can cause hypoglycemic episodes; in non-diabetic patients, some of these would be a tumor (often benign) in the pancreas, Addison’s disease, a weakened pituitary gland, severely reduced liver function, fasting, or malnutrition. Reactive hypoglycemia is possibly the most common reason for hypoglycemia in non-diabetics, caused by an overproduction of insulin from the pancreas after eating a large amount of carbohydrates. This is most common in overweight people and those with Type 2 diabetes; there is some evidence to suggest that reactive hypoglycemia can precede Type 2 diabetes.

      The dietary advice for hypoglycemia is basically the same as for diabetes. This involves taking the correct (raw) fats daily and avoiding processed, heated oils and fats, such as margarine and cooked vegetable oils. We recommend whole foods, and maybe oils such as flax seed, coconut oil, and hemp oil.

      Other than that, the basic idea is non-starchy vegetables: raw or cooked; fruits: blueberries, green apple, and grapefruit only if they can be eaten with your glucose under 110; whole Food Fats, as I mentioned: raw nuts and seeds, preferably soaked and rinsed; omega-3 rich seeds: chia, flax, hemp; coconut; avocado; lean and clean animal foods (Optional): cold water fish and wild game, or organic free-range meat if not vegetarian and not allergic.

      If you’re feeling the need for more between your meals, first check in with what is really going on. Are there other emotions directing you to feel the need to eat?

      These are ideas for those snack attack feelings: Green water; green juice – no fruit except lemon or lime; water with 1 tablespoon green powder, flavored to your liking; water with 1 tablespoon green powder and 1 serving protein powder; chia energy drink with or without greens and/or protein powder; vegetable sticks by themselves or with a raw food dip (dairy-free, gluten-free, whole food); an ounce of raw nuts or seeds; raw crackers or bread made from vegetables, nuts, and seeds. 16 – 32 ounces is a good serving size for beverages.

      We go over this and more in great detail in our Sweet Spot Solutions program. You can learn more here – http://www.TheSweetSpotSolution.com

      Reply
  24. Charlotte

    Wish you would address comments by LynnC. Like her, I am Unafraid of hunger. I am afraid of the fight or flight triggered by large gap between meals. Always wary of a one-size fits all approach. We’re all different. Highly sensitive people HSPs need refquent meals or we experience anxiety. Not hunger. Anxiety.

    Reply
    • Marcia Patrice

      Hi Charlotte, I agree that there is no one size fits all. Latest studies on intermittent fasting show benefits of feasting less frequently with longer fasting periods, at least a few days each week. I encourage you to do what suits you best. I am a HSP and took a weekend workshop with Elaine Aron who wrote the book on HSP. I do not experience anxiety nor hunger when I have large gaps between meals. I used to have hypoglycemia, but after working with Dr. Ritamarie and resetting my insulin receptors, I can go longer between meals, I do not experience hypoglycemia, and I am less anxious. I hope you continue to support the practices that bring you the most peace and good health, and wish you a happy new year. Cheers, Marcia, a team member for Dr. Ritamarie

      Reply
  25. Leanne

    Thank you for this article. I am 39 and have had low blood sugar issues since my teens (My mother has them too) but I was also very skinny and in sports with an insane metabolism. As an adult, having 2 kids and work stress made me gain weight and I kept up with frequent eating to deter the LBS symptoms. When I ate Atkins style 5 years ago the symptoms mostly stopped but I felt horrible and think I went too low on the carbs and also was undereating because food was constantly on my mind. I think it messed up my hormones a bit. Since stopping low carb my symptoms have been constantly here, never being able to go from one meal to the next without grazing and hence I cannot ever lose weight. I need to lose 20-30 lbs. I’m 5’7 and 180 lbs.

    I was looking into IF doing 16:8 but have decided to take it slower. I am going to get to eating 3 squares a day at 6-12-6 with zero snacking in between. If I can do that then I will work on extending my nightly fast beyond 6 am and try to eliminate breakfast over time. I have also thought of eating 2 times a day by skipping lunch doing two 11 hr fasts instead.

    Reply
  26. Laura Deller

    Thank you so much for your brilliant article. I have started putting it into practice today.
    I am starting with keeping the 5-6 hour gap between meals without worrying too much about meal content/size just to get used to the timing although I do generally eat fairly well I am not doing well with snacking.
    So motivated. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Angelica Martin

      That is wonderful, Laura! Great work. Your body will thank you for the meal spacing and it will help your body to restore itself and heal itself.

      Reply

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  1. Practitioner Corner- Blood Sugar Imbalances and Belly Fat | - [...] to be thinner” client begins to eat, her pancreas secretes insulin in order to move the blood glucose generated…
  2. I Ate a Candy Bar Today! Unlikely blood sugar villains | - […] and can lead to increased insulin levels. Spacing meals too close together leads to an all day, chronic elevation…

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