Meal Frequency and Nutrient Timing
The old myth that you should eat 6 small meals a day to boost your metabolism is false. There are however ways you use nutrient timing to help you around your workouts. There are two different subjects on this matter and they are meal frequency and nutrient timing. The meal frequency is more about the timing of the meals we take in and how many times you should be eating in a day. Nutrient timing is dealing with more of what macronutrients should you be taking in at certain times of the day. This subject is beneficial to go over but we must remember that at the end of the day if we have met all our goals and have the right amount of calories and macronutrients we have headed the right directions and will see results regardless of how we got there during the day. With that being said let's break this down so I can give you a clear picture of what this subject looks like.
Eating 8 meals a day will not speed up this process or “trick” your body into leaning out. When our goal is general weight loss the meal frequency has no effect on the results, only the calories and the macronutrients we consume have that effect. You want to choose times to eat that fit into your personal schedule. Any times that will give you, consistency, accuracy, and flexibility should be the main consideration. There are some common myths out there involved with meal frequency like, don't eat after 7 PM, or don't work out on an empty stomach, or eat 8 meals a day to keep your metabolism up. While they are common when coming across a “diet” none of them have scientific evidence to be beneficial to you. Meal frequency, as in how many times a day should I eat? This has no bearing on our weight loss goals. If I eat 1000 calories in one sitting and wait 7 hours later and eat the other 1000 calories, this will do nothing to my body composition and where I am headed with weight loss goals in mind if that is the right amount of calories and macronutrients that my body needs. So you can put aside the myths that you need to separate your meals evenly or you have to eat at certain times. This makes this a much more flexible approach. We all have busy schedules and it would be very hard to eat every 3 hours. Ask yourself when you want to eat and that is when you should eat. This is about you and your goals.
The second thing to think about when we are talking about meal timing is the nutrients in those meals and when you should be consuming those nutrients. There is a little more to this subject but for our goals which is overall weight loss this still pails into comparison of our calories and the right macronutrients we take in. Do not get to hung up on eating nutrients at certain times, this will take away from the flexibility of this program. An example questions would be, should I be eating protein right after I train? This is an example of the timing that has to do with nutrients. There are 3 main times that you want to consider taking in the right nutrients. All these times have to do with you working out. They are used as tools to prioritize your workouts, they are not a special trick to make you loss weight any faster. Still keep in mind even if you don't use these timing methods and still take in your calories and right macronutrients you will still lose weight. The 3 times you want to consider when you are talking about nutrient timing are;
Post Post workout
Pre-workout does not mean right before you are about to pick up a barbell you should slam an energy drink. That will do nothing for you other than help you throw up during the workout. Pre-workout meal is considered to be about an hour to two hours before you workout. This is to let the food digest. This meal should contain a good carb source that is more slowly digested than something like a sugar carb, and a good protein source. We want the carb to give us sustainable energy and the protein to help our muscle. The one thing you want to stay away from pre workout is fats.Some examples of a good pre-workout meal include:
sweet potato/ potato
whole grain pasta
whole grain bread
These are just some examples but choose something you like to eat that is a carb.
Deil meats with no nitrates
Post workout meal is 30min to an hour after but if you feel like you can put something on your stomach right after that is ok too. Most of the time this will come in a liquid form because that is easily digested and gets to our bloodstream fast. This meal we want some fast digested carbs and a protein source. This is one of the only times when a sugar carb is more acceptable than a fiber carb source. There are many benefits that come from consuming a post workout shake with carbs in it. This will help you your CNS recover and give your muscle what they need to start the recovery process. I personally like to mix my carbs and protein together and take it as a shake. I take a carb supplement but it is basically an unflavored powder that I mix with my protein. Some examples of post workout meals:
Carbohydrate powder (dextrose)
Kill cliff/ fit aid
Any fruit juice
Post Post Workout
This should be a “complete meal” that includes a protein source, carb source and fat source. The timing should be approximately 60-90 minutes after consuming the post workout shake. This meal is to insure that you are getting some fuel for your body, you just put it through a hard workout and it needs to recover for tomorrow. The food options on this meal can be whatever you like to eat just portioned out to what is right for you.
Putting It All Together
To put all of this together we now know that eating 20 times a day or eating twice doesn't matter as long as the calories and the macros we are taking in are right. Nutrient timing can be beneficial but only to prioritize our workouts it is not a magic trick to get us to loss weight faster. At the end of the day we want to focus on hitting the macros and cals everyday. If you are doing that on a consist basis then we can look to optimize your nutrition more by looking at timing. Don't let this information stress you out you can still get where you want to go and not do any of the timing. I will say that again, you can get where you want to go by not doing any of the timing. Keep focused on hitting your numbers and good things will start happening.