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In theory, there’s no difference in body composition or fat loss results from eating 10 times a day compared to one, but theory doesn’t always carry over to the real world.
It’s highly likely you’ll feel pretty hungry after a few hours with no food and may even experience slight dizziness or feelings of sickness. While this isn’t necessarily detrimental on its own, it can lead many dieters to giving in to cravings.Hunger is the biggie.
When people are hungry, the first thing they reach for is something high in sugar – candy, cakes, pastries, soda – anything to get blood sugars up. Clearly this not only adds calories onto your daily intake, but can also spike insulin and blood sugar levels, leaving you feeling even more ravenous within an hour or so.
Large insulin spikes can also have a negative knock on effect for weight loss.
If you’re involved in sport, or interested in increasing your performance, be it for cardio, leisure activities or strength training, workout nutrition is a huge issue.
Both pre and post workout meals play a big role in how you perform in your sessions. Ideally you should have a meal containing a complete protein (from meat, fish, dairy or a protein supplement) with a small portion of starchy carbs – oats, sweet potato, rice, etc. and some healthy fats from nuts, olive oil or avocado an hour or two before you train.
This provides an energy boost before you hit the gym and ensures there are adequate nutrients in the blood-stream, ready to kickstart the recovery process as soon as you’ve finished training.
The post workout meal is just as vital. It enables your muscles to repair and grow and helps stabilize blood sugar levels and replete glycogen stores. It should be similar to the pre workout meal, with calories adjusted to fit in with the rest of your day’s intake.
If you’re only eating two or three times a day, this may mean that a pre and post workout meal is not a viable option. While progress won’t necessarily be greatly reduced without workout nutrition, the general consensus is that eating a higher proportion of your calories around workout times appears to be optimal.
Many less frequent eaters skip breakfast. Not an issue usually, but what happens when you’re invited out for breakfast with friends, or have an early morning meeting or breakfast brainstorming session?
Likewise if your less frequent eating means you’re done with food by 5 or 6pm, this puts any late night meals out of the question, which can be pretty difficult if you decide to go for a night on the town.
The Wrap Up
Physiologically, how often you eat doesn’t matter one bit for fat loss. However, the psychological predicaments can have a knock on negative impact. The best approach is to set your calorie goals for the day, then use whatever meal frequency you feel suits you best and that you can stick to.