A common topic of discussion surrounding the fitness world is that of meal frequency and timing – but is gaining unwanted weight associated with the time of day you eat at? In the following post we’ll debunk the age-old question; meal timing – myth or fact?
Firstly; we’ll need to discuss the concept of caloric intake – considering we’ve done this in previous posts such as How to Avoid Winter Weight Gain and Gain Muscle, Lose Fat; we’ll keep this short and simple. Your caloric intake refers to the profile of foods, which make up your day-to-day consumption that consist of various macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats) and dictate whether your body will gain or lose weight. Determining what your daily intake requirements are for your set objectives is made easy with an abundance of calorie calculators available online and ready to be used at your disposal – meeting your requirements frequently is what sets apart those whom are successful and those whom aren’t.
Moving on to the purpose of this article – are meal timing and meal frequency relevant to your weight loss/gain goals? The answer; is a simple yet often difficult concept to comprehend. It simply does not matter; the importance is in ensuring that your caloric goals are met – and so; if you choose to eat 6 meals spread evenly across the day; or can stomach two meals in a couple of monstrous sittings; the result is the same – so long as the required macronutrient profiles are met. Meal frequency merely offers a consistent approach, in that, we are far more likely to follow a plan of 5 meals spread evenly across the day; than trying to fit our entire intake into two meals.
Getting results does not require abiding by principles such as:
→ Ensuring you do not eat carbohydrates after 6PM
→ Eating every two to three hours to maximise muscle generation
→ Ensuring of post-workout quick absorption protein supplements (however, understand that in muscle formation, protein and carbohydrates are required; and so your diet should incorporate adequate quantities of these – in terms of what ‘adequate quantities/ratios’ you should adhere to? There is no set formula, find what works best for your diet, for your set objectives through experimentation)
The concept of ‘missing a meal’ is nullified under this interpretation; because the truth is, missing a meal simply requires you to eat more the next meal. Meal timing and frequency offer structure; that’s it – however you want to consume your calories, at whatever time best suits your schedule – that is, and I stress this, the key important factor to meeting your weight gain/loss goals is ensuring that your caloric intake is met by the time your head hits the pillow at night!
However, I won’t entirely disagree with the concept of meal timing to promote various benefits throughout the entirety of the day; such as:
→ Obviously, a feeling of less hunger – if you’re eating more frequently, you’re less likely to feel hungry throughout the day, therefore more energized and focused on your daily tasks and less agitated
→ Decreases appetite/cravings – particularly important for those adhering to a strict diet – following your meal timing plan will ensure that you are calming those urges to have a quick processed snack
→ Ensuring you have complex carbohydrates an hour or so before your workout will enable you to sustain energy throughout it’s entirety
Whilst meal timing isn’t of particular interest in assisting in weight loss or gain – it needs to be understood that our digestion system is relatively fast paced and therefore absorption and excretion of nutrients happens relatively quickly (through perspiration and urination) – in saying so; you require a constant flow of minerals and nutrients which are provided so long as you have a minimum of two meals a day (it generally takes 8 hours to entirely digest one meal; larger meals digest at a slower rate).
Meal timing; in the sense that it plays a significant role in body composition (eg – our ability to form muscle and lose fat) is a MYTH; however, in the instance of offering structure to your diet – meal timing plays a credible role. In reality; the structure that aligns with your daily allowance for food consumption and results in you feeling content throughout the day is essential – and so; whether you can wait 5 hours between meals or two to complete your day-to-day requirements; is what is imperative.
The bottom line being, what you eat (and ensuring you do so) is far more important than when you eat it.
MYTH – DEBUNKED