Health and Fitness 11

Chapter 11 – Optimum daily meal frequencies

Health and Fitness Blog 6Eat carefully calorie-proportioned meals every three to four hours. In any one sitting, try to avoid eating meals which constitute more than 20% of the daily calorie requirement you’ve assigned for yourself.

With regards meal frequency, you should aim to eat five to six meals per day.

To some, this advice may seem counter-intuitive. But here’s where it gets interesting: You can actually burn off more fat and become healthier than you’ve ever been before by eating more often!

Eating frequently, say every three hours, ensures your metabolism is always super-charged and your body chemistry always in the anabolic state it needs to be in to maintain lean weight whilst you burn off fat weight. Allowing yourself to go hungry by spacing your meals more than four hours apart means you run the risk of your body switching to a catabolic state in which lean mass is converted to energy and fat stores conserved. This is the body’s ‘starvation response’ and it’s something you should look to avoid at all costs.

How can you know if your body starts reverting to starvation mode?… Quite simply, whenever you start feeling hungry, that’s as sure a sign as any.

The answer to that last question appears so trivially obvious that I have no doubt many of you will think I’m ‘pulling your leg’, or perhaps competing for first prize in ‘stating the obvious’. Nevertheless, we sometimes need to be reminded about simple truths. It’s one thing to appreciate the truth of a statement intellectually and quite another to know its value. So listen to your body. Once you’ve implemented your new health and fitness program you should never allow yourself to develop the hunger cravings which come with spacing your meals too far apart. If you’re feeling hungry for any appreciable length of time during the day, then you’re not eating often enough. It’s as simple as that.

The body’s starvation response increases your chances of losing any lean weight previously gained. It also increases your chances of regaining any fat weight previously lost. In short, starving your body is liable to undo any good work you may have done up to that point.

Naturally, eating more frequently will mean your meal sizes will have to be proportionally smaller in order for you to accomplish the desired calorie deficit or capped calorie surplus you’re aiming for. A woman should look to eat five meals per day and a man six. Those who limit themselves to just three meals per day are seriously compromising their results. Obviously, three meals are better than two, four better than three and five better than four, but six meals per day is the best of all. There are even those who take this method of regular eating to its extreme by getting up in the middle of the night to eat a small meal. But for the purposes of any healthy eating program, five to six meals per day during your sixteen or so waking hours should be enough.

The opposite extreme is eating too frequently. Making your eating schedule so compact that you’re eating more than six to seven times per day doesn’t make good sense because you’ll end up piling more food on top of your last meal’s undigested contents. So as with most things, there’s a balance to be struck; a trade-off to be reached.

Another good strategy to adopt is to make sure your last meal is the smallest of the day and consumed about three hours before you go to sleep. This tactic will be discussed in more detail in chapters 12 and 13.

To summarise, you should always avoid skipping meals as the body interprets any meals you miss as ‘starvation’. In fact, if you follow all of the nutrition and exercise advice contained within these chapters, it should be possible for you to eat more frequently than you’ve ever eaten before. If you utilise meal frequency and portion size tactics along with healthy food choices and daily exercise, you’ll have your body working at its absolute optimum. You’ll be losing more fat than you’ve ever lost before, and what’s more, you’ll be doing so whilst eating more frequently.

Inspirational quote:  Whatever you can do or dream, begin it….. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

‘Health and Fitness for Life’ Intermission

I have now introduced most of the basics involved in any worthwhile health and fitness program. The fact that I haven’t even started talking about exercise in any detail yet should indicate to you how important healthy nutrition and correct eating habits are. Your nutrition will be the cornerstone of your program. Any attempt you make to improve your health without this cornerstone will be doomed to failure.

Most of the upcoming chapters will now be about implementing specific strategies which will help you build on the basics I’ve discussed so far. I will not only be looking at nutrition and exercise in more detail but also goal-setting, planning, recording and analysing results, motivation, discipline and general psychology.

Although the advice given in the first eleven chapters are fundamental to good health, the chapters which follow should be considered no less important if you’re aspiring to optimise your body composition and improve your all-round physical health. In fact, I hope you will view all the information and strategies I include within this guide as indispensable, even those I chose to include right at the end of this book. I had to sort the chapters into some sort of order, but that’s not to say the order correlates with the importance rating. The order I have assigned is fairly arbitrary, so later chapters should certainly be considered no less significant than earlier chapters. In fact, some of the later chapters may well provide you with the crucial missing pieces you need to ensure your entire program works as a collective, thereby yielding a much greater synergistic effect. Clearly, following just one item of advice in this program is better than none at all, but you should look to incorporate as much advice as possible to benefit fully.

A Note on the Book

My ‘Health and Fitness for Life’ book, complete with all fifty chapters, will be available to purchase soon. Be sure to bookmark my site and check back often for any latest updates. When the book is available to buy, I will update this page with a link for those of you who would like to order a copy.

About Melluvahess

My name is Sean Maguire and I am the founder of Maths Made Elementary. I provide expert one-to-one maths tuition within North London to lower and upper secondary level students studying at Key Stages 3 and 4. For more information about me, and the services I offer, please check out my website
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