Nutrition 101: Part 2 of 5- When and Why to Eat

Nutrition is the most important part of any fitness or sports performance goal.  Without eating right, you’ll never make optimal progress.  Why waste all those long hours of effort spent in the gym, only to get poor results?  For many people it’s because they don’t understand what to eat, when to eat it, and how food affects their bodies.  I’m going to address all of these basic issues, plus discuss supplementation, in my 5 part series “Nutrition 101”.  Stay tuned, and each week I’ll post a new installment in the series.  To follow the whole series and read older posts, become a member today.

Part 2- When and Why Should I Eat?

There are many theories out there on how often a person should eat, and why.  Some coaches recommend intermittent fasting or some other new technique.  Personally, I believe in eating many small meals and snacks throughout your day.  Ideally, you should eat 5-7 times in a day, and never go without food for longer than about 3 hours at a time.

The reasoning for this is simple and intuitive.  Food gives us energy.  Having consistent energy to burn throughout the day is preferable to big peaks and valleys.  Furthermore, food affects your insulin levels.  This along with a few other factors dictates your body’s ability to burn energy (calories) efficiently or to store fat.  Fasting and feasting that results in large swings in your insulin levels will cause your body to go into fat storage mode.  So, to lose weight or improve body composition, you should eat more often.

On the other hand, what if you’re trying to build muscle and gain weight?  Again, eating more often is the best.  This allows your body a constant supply of the nutritional supplies it needs to build muscle.  Fasting for too long will cause your body to go into a catabolic state, and eventually eat away at those hard earned lean gains.

So, whether you want to lose weight and lean out, or build muscle and bulk, the rules are the same.  Eat as soon as you wake up and about every 3 hours for the rest of your day.  Be sure to include a snack or protein supplement both before AND after your training session each time you work out.  Consuming protein and good carbohydrates at those times is essential for fueling your training effort and recovery.  Don’t skip meals.  Be just as dedicated to your nutrition as you are to your training, and your results will take off like a rocket ship.