We all know it’s easy to gain weight at work. No matter where you are on the corporate ladder, it’s a good bet your sitting at a desk for long hours, your lunch breaks aren't enough time to hit the gym, and your nearby vending-machine cookies are always looking better than the vegetables your wife slid into your briefcase. New research even shows that even your surroundings have a measurable impact your waistline: according to a new study in PLOS One, exposure to natural light is directly linked to a lower body mass index (BMI). Translation: if you’re working in drab, windowless office, lit by sad, fluorescent lighting, congrats! You’re in perhaps the single worst environment on earth for dropping any pounds.
So how’s a guy supposed to shake weight while logging long hours at the office?
Charlie Seltzer, M.D., a physician and weight-loss specialist based in Philadelphia, PA, says the best way to lose a few pounds while working isn't by running your stairwell in secret or by investing in a standing desk. Rather, you should shift your eating habits so that you’re mainly snacking (or eating small meals) during the day, and then treating yourself to a big dinner in the evening. (Or, in his words: “saving your calories for home.”)
You may have heard that eating at night isn’t the best game plan for weight loss. Well, Dr. Seltzer argues otherwise: “More and more, overwhelming data shows it doesn’t matter when you eat your calories,” he says. “And there’s evidence that there are even some advantages to eating carbohydrates at night, like improved sleep and improved insulin resistance.”
Plus, he adds: “Most people like to eat at night.”
Here’s your game plan: eat a protein-packed breakfast before work and stick to small, nutritious snacks—think: grass-fed beef jerky or Greek yogurt—to keep you energized throughout the day. And yes, you can avail yourself of some coffee, as well. “Most people find that with caffeine and just a little bit of food, they think clearer and feel better,” says Seltzer.
When evening comes around, you’ll have a big bank of calories left to enjoy a much-deserved dinner. “This is more maintainable for most people,” says Dr. Seltzer. “And maintainability leads to success or failure in most weight loss plans.”
The flipside, he says, is when you have an unhealthy breakfast and huge, nutrient-dense lunch at your cubicle. When you get home, “you might only have 400 or 500 calories left,” he says.
That’s unfortunate, because it leaves precious little room for the greatest home-cooked steak you’ve ever had.
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