You always hear things about eating at the “best time”. Is there any truth to these proposed perfect eating times? That’s what we will be looking at today-Meal Timing Methods.
You may see a lot of methods that are “scientifically proven”. Overall, when looking at something that is “scientifically proven” keep a couple of things in mind:
- Look at the study itself. How large was the study? Small samples often lead to inaccurate results.
- Was the study an accurate representation of the population (i.e. not just all white males, or overweight females, etc.)?
- Correlation is not causation. Just because the study produced a certain result, was it due to the tested factor or was it from some other variable? A good example would be when they say sodium causes heart disease. More recent studies show sodium in normal, healthy adults shows no evidence of increasing risk of heart disease or heart problems. However, if we think about it–things with a lot of sodium tend to have a lot of other things in it that our bad for us like saturated and trans fat. The food is often also processed or not fresh because sodium is a great preservation method. So, taking a closer look at things, things aren’t always as they appear on the surface. So do your own research!
- My last big note on this is look who the study is funded by. Results can be manipulated. If Coca Cola is paying for a study on whether aspartame (an ingredient in their diet drink beverages) is bad for you or not (which by the way, after tons of studies is still pretty inconclusive), more likely than not, they wouldn’t want their name with a study that shows an ingredient in their drink is bad for you! Unfortunately, not all scientists practice honestly, some manipulate results..for the right price. So just be smart and do your own research when you see a “new-found shocking finding”.
Another note about mentioning these meal timing ideas formed over time is to listen to your own body. While 99% of the population may NOT perform well with something, you might find that your body responds great with it, and you feel great! If there are no real health risks but a lot of people just “don’t like it” but it works for you–by all means do it!
So, I am not necessarily bashing or favoring any of these meal timing methods, but rather informing you on them, and what results tend to show when they are followed. You can make your own educated guess and experiments from there!
Meal Timing Method #1: No Carbs After Dark or 6 PM
In my opinion, this meal timing method gets a lot of backlash from fitness professionals. It sort of seems like an indiret method to prevent late night snacking, right? What snack DOESN’T have carbs in it? So, I feel that this method would work great for those late night snackers or after-dinner snackers. Kind of a psychological game for yourself.
However, there is that scientific argument that the carbs will break down and get stored as fat due to inactivity. It is also said to effect sleep patterns. Everyone is different. I do believe that maybe some people whether genetically or from environmental factors cannot break down carbs efficiently, so they may find themselves more bloated or sluggish eating carbs later in the day. However, this isn’t the case for everyone! Here is an article that says no carbs after dark is insignificant. Just one of hundreds of different findings!
Overall, I’ll let YOU be the judge on whether you like your carbs later in the day or not!
Meal Timing Method #2: Skipping Out on Breakfast
It appears that I always see two extremes. People who eat a big, hearty breakfast and those who eat nothing at all (or like a Pop Tart, which pretty much counts as nothing). From client experience, a lot of people who just “aren’t hungry” when they wake up tend to be the ones who eat a lot of calories before they go to bed. So if this sounds like you, check that out. Maybe you won’t want to eat carbs after dark! 😉
Others maybe skip breakfast because they want to do fasted cardio. Unless you are an athlete or competitor trying to lean out, I don’t think their are crazy significant differences with doing cardio fasted versus not. I just wouldn’t go eating a huge buffet 20 minutes before you run! Allow yourself about an hour. Plus, if you are doing some intense cardio, fueling up before hand (or not) will significantly effect your performance! So think twice about not eating!
Those who skip out on breakfast will tend to be more hungry later on and probably more likely to binge and eat a ton of calories for lunch, dinner and snacks. Eating a nutrient filled breakfast has been shown to jumpstart the metabolism (as is drinking a big glass of water right as you wake up!) and keep you fuller longer so you can have more moderately portioned meals throughout the day.
Meal Timing Method #3: 2-3 Big Meals? Or 6 Smaller Meals?
Okay, this one is defintely effected by our personal huger preferences (do you like to feel full or just satisfied?). It also has a bit to do with if you have any medical conditions. I am diagnosed with a mild form of PCOS. My birth control is the only thing that keeps it under control. Many doctors recommend that those with PCOS eat a larger meal for breakfast and continue to lessen their portion size as they go from lunch to dinner. It helps with the insulin sensitivity and I have noticed that my body definitely responds better to this method.
I personally like eating 3 bigger meals and feeling full throughout the day, especially becasue I am always moving around. Smaller meals simply would not work for me. However, I know a lot of people who hate to feel full and prefer eating smaller meals throughout the day. So, you may need to experiment around and see what works best for you!
Meal Timing Method #4: What to Eat Pre and Post Workout? And When?
The general rule of thumb is to consume a pre-workout or post workout meal anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours before or after a workout. Again, this comes down to your schedule and your preferences!
For your pre-workout meal, you want something carb-filled so you have that ready energy source to burn during your workout! I usually have some sort of caffeine as an energy boost. Then I will usually enjoy a granola bar or a banana with a little bit of peanut butter.
For post workout, consider a normal balanced meal or protein-rich snack. We just broke our muscles down, so we need protein to help replenish and build them back up! A protein bar or drink or even some cooked chicken and rice is great!
And that takes us to the end of the most common Meal Timing Methods that I could think of! Do you have any Meal Timing Methods that you have heard of, but aren’t sure if they work? Remember to look at the legitimacy and realisticness of the scientific studies. Also, how your individual body responds to it, and you will do just fine!