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6 meals per day?! I don't think so!

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6 meals per day?! I don't think so!

"You have to eat every 2 hours or your blood sugar will crash AND you will go catabolic""

Ugh! Nothing bothers me more than "broscience" nutrition advice.

For as long as I've been in this industry (16 years), the multiple small meals recommendation has been the gold standard when it comes to nutrition non-dependent of goals, gender, age or any other bio-individual marker. 1200 calories or 3000 calories? No matter, just go to Costco and buy all the reusuable containers and bring a suitcase to work with you...

This is neither practical nor necessary. Let's dispel some myths:

Thermic Effect of Food

But what about the thermic effect of food? What is this you may be asking? Macronutrients known as protein, carbohydrate, and fat require a certain amount of energy to be broken down with protein being the highest. The popular advice is that every time you eat you "stoke the metabolic fire" and thus burn more calories.

Food Fact: The total volume of your daily food intake determines the thermic effect of food and thus total calories burned. This study actually shows a higher thermic effect of food from 3000 calories taken in one large meal vs. 3000 calories taken in 6 small meals. No, I'm not encouraging one meal per day but the point is there.

Translation: You will burn (roughly) the same amount of energy from your intake whether its one big meal or 20 small meals

Meal Spacing

But won't I drop dead from starvation if I don't eat every 2-3 hours?! You'll likely drop dead from the stress of prepping 3 meals and 3 snacks first. First, if you get "hangry" after 2 hours without food, you've got a bigger problem in that your are what I like to call a sugar burner. This means that your body predominately likes to run on glucose and will rarely tap in to the 100,000 calories plus of fuel sitting around you midsection or thighs.

Before you read any further, let me be clear: I don't hate carbohydrates. Vegetables are carbohydrates and I encourage people to eat any many of these nutrient dense foods as possible. Fruit is healthy in moderation. However, the large reason our country's obesity rate is skyrocketing is the excess intake of not only refined carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, soda, candy, and cookies but starchy carbohydrates in general.

Carbohydrates predominately fuel INTENSE exercise: weight training, HIIT, spinning, etc....

High carbohydrate diets (food pyramid and my plate) lend themselves to a sugar burner metabolism. Due to the constant blood sugar swings in which your blood sugar spikes and then crashes, your body will tell you that it's hungry every couple of hours. How do you know you are a sugar burner? Mood swings, afternoon fatigue, brain fog, waking up in the middle of the night and weight gain are just some of the side effects of a sugar burning metabolism.

Also, let's think of this rationally....why would your body want to tap into body fat for energy when you are constantly feeding it every couple of hours? It doesn't and it likely won't. This study shows higher average glucose numbers especially when meals were frequent and containing higher carbohydrates. You could exercise every day for an hour plus and hope to burn off some of that excess flab but not many folks have time to commit this much time to the gym when it's way easier to give your body the proper fuel for your unique activity level.

The solution is forcing your body to adapt to becoming a fat burner. This is done by drastically lowering your carbohydrate intake to mostly vegetables and some low sugar fruit and drastically increasing your fat intake from grass fed meats, butter, ghee, and avocados and coconut oil to name a few. You must decrease one fuel source drastically (sugar and high glycemic carbs) and increase the other (fats). When this happens, the body will begin to shift what fuel source it predominately burns.

The Adaptation

After a period of 3-7 days you will begin to see some pretty amazing benefits such as stable moods, better sleep, increased and more stable energy, and crystal clear thinking!

No more suitcases of food, having to pack snacks to run errands, worrying that you are going to crash before your big afternoon meeting....how awesome does that sound?

Where to start:

Try your best to space meals 4-6 hours apart so that you are eating no more than 3 times per day. However, be prepared with protein and fat snacks such as nuts, sliced turkey rolled with avocado, hardboiled eggs etc...in case you get tempted by the vending machine. Decrease overall carbohydrate intake and increase overall fat intake. Majority of carbs should come from non-starchy vegetables and 1-2 servings of low sugar fruit per day (if quick weight loss is the goal eliminate fruit or choose berries only). This strategy will leave you satiated for longer.

The research shows that .55 grams of protein per pound of body weight is enough to maintain nitrogen balance (maintain muscle mass) in moderately active people.

Here's the calculation

200lbs x .55= 110 grams per day

1oz of protein (varies) is roughly 7 grams

110/7 grams per ounce= 16 ounces per day

1 palm size protein is 4-6 ounces of protein depending on your hand size

EQUALS: 2.5-4 palm size amounts of protein per day

Starchy carbs such as sweet potatoes should be timed around workouts.

4. Honestly, unless you are working out intensely more than 3 times per week or back to back days, you do not need to include starchy carbohydrates regularly. Over time your body will replace it's muscle glycogen without loading up on starchy carbohydrates

Productivity Nugget:

Maintaining a healthy diet should not be difficult if you understand how your physiology can work when given the proper food inputs. Your body will effortlessly run on fat, both dietary and body fat, during day to day activities. You won't have to worry about crashing as your blood sugar is stabilized leaving your with more time to be productive and improved mental clarity so that you can work smarter and more efficiently.

Below are some SIMPLE ideas for meals when you don't have the luxury of spending hours meal prepping:

Fuel for the Busy Breakfast: hard boiled eggs, sliced peppers or other fresh vegetables. You can even buy pre-hard boiled eggs if you must...

Fuel for the Busy Lunch: 4-6 oz of protein (about the size of your palm) on top of greens/lettuce with avocado, tomatoes and cucumbers with olive oil and vinegar (2:1)

Fuel for the Busy Dinner: Steak and steamed frozen vegetables with generous amount of grass-fed butter*

*Fact: you will be able to absorb for vitamins from vegetables when adequate fat is included

These meals are not "sexy" but serve the purpose of fueling your busy lifestyle and supplying a ton of nutrients.

Questions/Comments: All are welcome. Comment on the Facebook post!

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