Hi friends! I hope your week is going well! Happy National Registered Dietitian (RD)/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Day to my fellow dietitians!
In honor of this national holiday ;-), we’re talking nutrition today… specifically nutrient timing.
Working as a nutrition consultant, I talk to real people with real problems in real life every day. They are not in the hospital, they are not a part of an organized program and weight loss is not their only goal. I see people from all walks of life, with all sorts of problems, with all different medical conditions or sometimes no medical condition at all. I see people just like you and just like me (well maybe not quite in love with fruits and veggies) every day. Because of this, whenever a client has a question, issue or challenge that I think you all might relate to as well, I often jot it down as an idea for a future blog post.
Today I want to talk with you about something that seems to be a challenge for many of the clients that I see on a daily basis: eating times and meal schedules.
As I mention often, we live in a world of nutrition information overload. Everyone has a thought, opinion or judgment regarding what you are orare not eating… and not only that, but what time of the day that you are choosing to do so as well.
I am always dumbfounded when I hear people giving other people opinion-based nutrition advice, telling them that they have to eat one way or the other in order to be healthy. Just the other day I overheard two guys in the gym chatting about nutrition and one guy said to the other, “In order to cut fat and gain muscle, you have to finish your last meal before 6pm.”
Oh really sir?
Maybe that works for you, but the chances of someone being successful following that particular eating plan are slim to none. What happens when he is invited to dinner with his friends at 8pm on Friday night? I guess he should just sit at home in order to watch his fat melt and his muscle grow. Or what about when he gets married and his wife gets off of work at 6pm and dinner before 8pm, much less 6pm, isn’t possible? Does that mean he is going to turn into a lob of fat at that point too? Obviously not.
The point of my story here is that you need to find a schedule that works for you – not your best friend, not your mom, not your husband, not your coworker… you. You know your body best; you know your hunger cues; you know what makes you feel best throughout the day… and no one else.
As I dietitian, I always encourage people to find an eating pattern that works for them and then to stick to it. Whether it be 3 meals, 3 meals + 1 snack, 3 meals + 2 snacks, 5-6 small meals, 8 snacks + 0 large meals, etc., regardless of what the books might tell you, if one of those methods work better for you than the rest… simply put, that’s the best method … FOR YOU.
A calorie is a calorie is a calorie. While it’s important to have a consistent intake of nutrients all throughout the day, you are not going to become obese if you choose to eat lunch at 2pm rather than noon or eat dinner at 8pm instead of 5pm. We all tend to be less active in the later hours of the day, and therefore, our bodies will not need as much immediate energy at that time, but our bodies are a lot smarter than we think they are in knowing when to store and when to use the fuel we give it.
While I would certainly not want you going long hours without providing your body fuel, if having 3 square meals per day works for you, awesome. If you feel hungry in between meals and need snacks, great – choose healthy snacks. If you are more of a grazer and like 6 mini meals/snacks versus any big meals, perfect. As long as you are eating within your caloric needs for the day, eating an early or a late dinner is up to you.
Whatever eating method/schedule works best for you, stick to it – don’t let the guy at the gym or the girl at work tell you that you are going to become a beached whale if you continue eating snacks in between your meals – stay in tune with your body and you will always be naturally thin!
Have a wonderful evening my friends!
Great post! I totally agree that meal schedules should be flexible. I work with a lot of diabetics, so I often give them a guideline of a meal or a snack every 3-5 hours. I find that gives a good balance of flexibility and structure to come up with a schedule that works for them.
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