Kicking sand in the face of meal frequency - IFC Personal Training Singapore

Last blog I focused on what to eat for health. This time round I’m going to focus on when to eat for health and leaning out.

IN SHORT:

Won’t eating every few hours boost my metabolism? Unfortunately it does not seem to be the case. You will get the same 'thermic effect of food' (boost in metabolism) if you eat all your calories at one sitting or space them out over the day. In fact, spacing your meals further apart could help you become leaner.

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When I first started in the fitness industry, working in Sydney gyms filled with bodybuilders, we thought everyone should eat every two hours. And if you didn’t, your biceps would implode and kids would kick sand in your face.

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And it wasn’t just bodybuilders who lived by this… the Australian Government’s campaign to help us lose weight told us to eat small meals often (grain based, low fat, starchy meals)... “This will keep you lean and healthy”… erm… then why are we now vying for the spot of fattest nation on the planet? The bodybuilders did get lean. The general population of Australia got fat.

What happened? Should we graze like a cow? Let’s leave the recommendations for athletes and bodybuilders alone and just focus on the general population.

Won’t eating every few hours boost my metabolism? Unfortunately it does not seem to be the case. It’s hard to say why everyone has been told this for so long. You will get the same 'thermic effect of food' if you eat all your calories at one sitting or space them out over the day.

So having multiple meals is no better or no worse, right? Depends on who you are. If you’re an athlete who has trouble trying to ingest enough calories for weight gain or performance then multiple meals will make this easier. If you’re the general population, ask yourself 'am I trying to put on weight?'. If the answer is “no”, maybe you should be having three, or even two, meals a day. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to control your weight if you take in your calories less often.

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2 meals?! Won’t skipping breakfast make me fat?! Depends… skipping breakfast will not slow down your metabolism, and it does not promote fat storage. In fact, skipping breakfast may ramp-up the fat burning, until you do eat and then the fat burning will stop. And this is where the “depends” part comes in… if you skip breakfast and then by mid morning you have a little ‘nuclear meltdown’ devouring every bit of food in your path, then yes, skipping breakfast will make you fat. If you wait until 11am to eat, have a couple of eggs with half an avocado on the side, you’re setting your body up to become a fat burning machine.

Low meal frequency and skipping breakfast may be sounding a little austere. I used to think the same, until I read an article a few years ago by Martin Berkhan that piqued my interest. For sure Mr. Berkhan is a little out there, but he seemed to know a lot about ‘intermittent fasting’ and the results he was getting with clients were AMAZING.

Below is what I learned about ‘intermittent fasting’ from my self-experimentation and using Dr. Google:

 - Fasting is not for everyone and we don't push people to try unless they are keen.

- Start slow, push your breakfast back by an hour each day until you reach your desired breakfast time. You will get grumpy at   first, so buy your colleagues coffee every morning to keep them happy. 

- Guys should keep the fasting time to around 16 hours and women 14, e.g. if the last thing you put in your mouth the night before was a 10pm (include your last sip of wine), if you're a guy, eat no later than 2pm the next day, and ladies, no later than 12 noon the next day. 

- Once you've settled into it, you'll agree with me that it's easier to cut out breakfast, rather than dinner, it also makes it easier to be social. 

-If you're stressed from anything (lack of sleep, hard job, too much exercise, girlfriend is driving you crazy) 'intermittent fasting' is a horrible idea and could be the thing that pushes you over the edge, making you crash and burn. 

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- If you're the opposite to the above (not stressed, eating well, work is manageable, girlfriend is being nice) 'intermittent fasting' can make you lean and help you get jacked.

- The greatest lesson that 'intermittent fasting' taught me is that if I skip a meal my biceps won't implode and I won't die. After years of eating like a bodybuilder grazing all day, I actually found eating twice or three times a day liberating. 

Hopefully that all made sense. If you’re confused or would like to know more, just give me a yell.

 

See you in the gym

Aaron Rolley