By Jake Boly, Staff Writer
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The topic this week is meal frequency and nutrient timing. In just the past few years there has been a lot of misleading information thrown around. Articles or so-called health tips say to "eat seven times a day to fire up the metabolism."
If you're a regular dieter who is interested in losing, maintaining, or gaining weight I'm sure you've heard that statement before. Better yet, have you ever partaken in the habit of eating multiple meals a day because you thought it would have some magic effect? I know I have, until I finally did some research and used common sense.
Yes: research and common sense, a deadly pair. I would plan out my meals each day and stress if I missed one or had a blip in my schedule. If you're stressing about eating on a diet, what good is it causing? Extra stress in your life, bad habits, an unhealthy relationship with food, just to list a few.
When you learn that the timing of your food consumption is irrelevant in total nutrition and body composition, I promise dieting becomes easier.
Some background behind debunking the meal-timing trend comes with questioning why we believed in it the first place. The biggest flaw in this theory is regarding TEF (thermogenic effect of feeding), the calorie expenditure that comes with eating, basically the calories burned from processing the food you eat (metabolism raising temporarily). To find TEF you take the percent of total calories consumed, assuming that more meals consumed induces higher metabolism. Wrong. Take this following equation for example: 20 percent of 5 x 400 calorie meals is the same as 20 percent of 2 x 1000 calorie meals.
In the laws of nutrient timing, said Alan Aragon, a Bachelor and Master of Science Nutrition, your first goal should be worrying about consuming your daily macronutrients.
Now don't get me wrong. If eating more frequently is your personal preference and you enjoy it, continue doing so. Also, for those who are doing multiple training bouts meal timing and frequency might help with their schedule and energy levels. Other than the few special circumstances, there have been no proven benefit in nutrient usage or body composition.
Hopefully this article has exposed some truth in meal frequency and nutrient timing. If I still haven't convinced you meal frequency has no added benefits hopefully you do research for yourself. Check out next week when I talk about the pros and cons of working out fasted or fueled!