You are what you eat, according to the old adage. But it seems that there’s a new rider to that: You are when you eat. Meal timing is a buzzword that’s been around for a while. What it’s about is knowing which times to eat different meals and snacks. It’s also about knowing which nutrients to include in your meals.
We all have a basic understanding of what nutrients we should be eating and how many we should consume each day. So how come we’re not losing weight or feeling better? The answer is in the timing. We may be eating meals at the wrong time of day. Or, we may be eating the incorrect nutrients at the incorrect mealtimes. It also dictates what should be eaten at an ordinary meal and a post-workout meal.
There is much literature about how to divide up your meals and snacks. Some experts believe in eating carbohydrates at the beginning of the day, calling it carb-loading. Others believe in eating carbohydrates at the end of the day, calling it carb back-loading). The most critical thing to keep in mind is what you want to achieve by timing your meals and working out what nutrients to eat and when. The same plan is not going to work for everyone. When you start, you should approach meal timing with a degree of flexibility. You may need to make major or minor changes to find balance.
Making a significant change to your diet should be done in consultation with a trained professional such as a dietitian. This is most applicable to people with pre-existing conditions who may be affected by dietary alterations. If you’re curious about meal timing, here are some of the benefits:
18. Meal timing may help with weight loss
Studies indicate that weight loss is achieved when you eat the bulk of your daily calorie intake before 3 p.m. each day.
Recently, 420 men and women were studied over the course of 5 months. Those who ate the majority of their calories before the 3 p.m. deadline lost weight at a faster rate than those who didn’t. Their total weight loss was also higher. The body functions on a set of rhythms. When it gets fed is just one of those rhythms.
A regular intake of food spread out over the course of the day is a pattern your body becomes accustomed to. If you include specific nutrients at specific meals, it will become part of your body’s expectation, too. Changes to the schedule can take your body days to adjust to.
If your meal schedule is erratic or non-existent, your body will be in a constant state of stress. It will always keep reserves of fat to burn as energy if it doesn’t get fed. When your body gets into a rhythm with regular meals, it will burn the foods you eat at mealtimes and not store as much excess fat.