When it comes to creating your own food routine... It’s important to remember, all of us work a little differently, and YOUR ideal meal timing is going to depend on a number of factors such when you wake up, your work schedule, when you workout, when you go to sleep, and of course, when you feel hungry. Here are 6 6 tips that I find work well for myself, and most of my clients.
*Before subscribing to any of the tips below, make sure to try my food journaling exercise. This will give you a window into when your body is feeling hungry and why.*
1. You tell your body when it’s hungry.
We might think it’s a coincidence that we want to eat at the same time everyday, but it’s not. We tell our body when to be hungry. So if we eat six small meals per day, we’re going to be hungry six times per day and so on. This is important to keep in mind when you begin creating (this changing) your food routine. It will take between 4-7 days (but as long as 14 days) for your body to adjust to your new pattern.
2. Space your meals about 4-6 hours apart.
Again, this might be contrary to what you normally hear, but here’s why: every time you eat you raise your blood sugar levels, and then the hormone insulin is released from the pancreas to bring your blood sugar back to normal. So, if you’re eating every 2-3 hours, you’re raising those blood sugar levels constantly throughout the day and insulin never has a chance to come back down. When insulin levels are high, it makes it impossible for your body to use fat as fuel, which in turn will keep you hungry throughout the day. When you space your meals out, you give your body a chance to digest, and bring blood sugar levels back to normal.
The number of meals will really depend on how early you start your day. If you see below - I usually have 4 meals on my longer days, and maybe 3 meals on less intense days.
3. Avoid eating at least 2 hours before bed.
When we go to sleep, our metabolic processes slow way down, and anything we eat at night pretty much just sits there and will likely interfere with our sleep patterns. Try to avoid eating 2-4 hours before sleeping.
4. Make lunch your largest meal of the day.
The middle of the day is usually when our metabolism is running at it’s peak, so eating the bulk of our food intake in the middle of the day, and eating a lighter dinner is helpful in keeping up with our bodies natural rhythm, and helps burn calories efficiently.
5. Leave at least 2 hours between your last meal and your workout.
When you workout on a full stomach, the blood circulating in your body has to make a choice between assisting the digestive process and sending blood to your muscles. Making both your metabolic processes and your workout, less effective. Try leaving at least 2 hours between your last meal and your workout, but no more than 4 hours. It’s also smart to re-fuel within an hour post-workout, so take that into consideration when planning your sweat session.
6. Schedule your meals at (roughly) the same time everyday.
When you create a food routine, your body figures out what’s up. So if you eat breakfast at 8AM everyday, your metabolism will fire up at 8AM everyday. In terms of timing, there are no ideal meal times, but following the tips above, and looking at your schedule, try to create some consistent times for your meals. I admit, this is hard for me, since my schedule usually bounces around all over the place, but this is what I try to stick to:
6 AM: Breakfast
8 AM: Workout
10 AM: Light Lunch
2 PM: Light Lunch
Now, take a little pause, look at your schedule, and write down the best times for you to eat.
Taking this first step is such an awesome place to start, because it doesn’t require you changing anything about what you’re eating, and simply shifts your focus to when you’re eating. Try our your new schedule this week and let me know how it goes!