Working out how to balance food, supplements and training is one of the trickiest parts of getting fit. Meal frequency and size has always been a hot topic for debate. Lucky for you, I’ve tried out every single combination out there to work out the most effective one. Here’s what I found…
a. They all work.
Yes, you heard that right! Meal frequency isn’t half as important as many people believe.
b. Some are easier to follow than others.
Some meal plans are far more practical and adaptable to your personal lifestyle and routine.
In conclusion, I’m going to give you one easy rule to follow:
Adhere to your daily calories, come close on your macros, and it doesn’t matter how
many meals you have each day.
This might sound too good to be true but it really isn’t. It’s all part of tailoring your fitness to your lifestyle. You may split your calories and macros across two, three or four meals, or even five and six if you really want an extra challenge! As a general rule, I would recommend three meals per day and one snack.
Putting the Personal back in Personal Training
As always with fitness and nutrition, the specifics of what you need to eat depend on your goals and body type, as well as the type of results you are looking for. For example, if you were looking to gain muscle and really bulk up, I would recommend a very different diet than if you were looking to lose weight and/or tone up.
Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day?
I would say every meal is equally important, as it is the sum of your meals that determines results. I don’t believe in breakfast being important in the traditional sense of eating immediately after you wake up.
Breakfast takes place when you break the fast with the first meal even if you have it at noon. This makes is impossible to skip breakfast unless you never eat again! Postponing that eating window and eating for a shorter length of time actually has some potential health benefits. Similar rules apply to lunch.
What Time Should I Eat Dinner?
I believe that the time you eat your dinner does have an impact on overall results, but not for the reason you may think. Many people believe eating later means you put on more weight, as we don’t burn calories when we are asleep. This is simply not true.
The reason I like to eat earlier in the evening is because eating late can have a negative impact on sleep quality, and a knock on effect on your results.
Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition
While pre-workout nutrition speaks for itself, everyone has an opinion on how soon you should eat after a workout. Immediately? Eight-minute window? Half-hour window?
As a general rule, I suggest having your post-workout meal or shake within two hours of completing your training. There’s no need to eat immediately after you finish. The only exception to the rule is extreme endurance training, when replenishing muscle glycogen quickly is important.
For most of us, having our shake from half an hour to an hour post-workout will be fine. Our overall aim is to hit our daily calories and macros, working day after day towards our goals.