Much ado can be made in the dieting world about information involving the best time of the day to eat. Should you skip breakfast? Is it true that you shouldn’t eat carbs after 6:00 pm? What time of the day is best for eating a large meal?
Questions like these can be a double-edged sword because while there is information worth knowing with regards to eating time, worrying about these factors is not imperative to dieting success. In other words, don’t fall into the common dieting pitfall of over-analyzing and worrying down to the tiny detail but then failing to follow through on the important stuff. Sometimes people use studying the tiny details as an excuse to avoid doing the heavy lifting while still allowing themselves to feel like they applied effort towards their diet.
Essentially, there are more important things to focus on in a diet, namely calorie intake and activity level, than smaller details like what time of the day is best to eat what foods.
But assuming you’ve got the big stuff under control and are just looking to fine-tune your approach to dieting, let’s get into some things worth knowing with regards to how to use time as an asset in your diet.
Intermittent Fasting Approach
An approach to weight loss that is quickly gaining in popularity is known as intermittent fasting. This process involves refraining from calorie intake for 14-18 hours per day and then going into a “feeding” phase of 6-10 hours.
This may sound challenging, but it’s actually rather manageable. Most people start their fast about an hour before they go to sleep. Tack on 7-8 hours of sleep and by the time you wake up you’re already a majority of the way through the fast. Now all you need to do is refrain from eating for the first 4-6 hours of your waking day which is the most challenging part, especially for people accustomed to eating a big breakfast.
Intermittent fasting can be effective for losing weight since our bodies must turn to its fat reserves for energy during the few hours a day when we have not given it an immediate supply of food.
Most Important Meal
The most important meal of the day is not breakfast contrary to popular belief. If there is such a thing as the “most important meal of the day” then it would have to be the meal you eat immediately following a workout.
The biggest meal of the day should be eaten about 30-45 minutes after a weight training session. During this time, enzymes responsible for energy production are most active and energy-storing hormones within the blood are suppressed. This means there will be less chance energy will be stored as fat. Carbs will be immediately taken up to replenish the low glycogen stores caused through exercising. Protein will be needed to aid recovery and growth of new calorie-burning muscle tissue and most of the fat from the meal will be needed to fuel many of these reactions. After a good workout most meals are likely to be utilized completely for recovery.
It is crucial to eat a meal high in protein following an exercise.
The “No Carbs Before Bed Myth”
Part of the reason we suggested at the beginning of this article to not spend too much time thinking about this stuff is because there’s just so much bad information out there. A great example of this is the “don’t eat carbs before bed” advice that gets passed around in gyms and dieting facilities around the world. This advice, essentially, is crap. Eating carbs before bed is really no better or worse than eating them at any other point in the day. Unless you’re trying to become a body-builder where being highly scientific about the foods you eat can lead to microscopic changes in performance in the gym the following day, you can save your energy worrying about this stuff.
The most important thing to focus on is the number of calories you are consuming. Don’t get lost down the rabbit-hole of meaningless advice like “no carbs before bed” such that gorging on fat and protein becomes permissible. People screw up their diets all the time by focusing on things that don’t matter.
In dieting as well as many other things in life, the Pareto principal, also known as the 80-20 rule, comes in handy. It states: 80% of your benefits come from 20% of your efforts.
Don’t get caught up in worrying about things that don’t matter. Count calories, exercise, sleep well, and drink a lot of water and you’ll be well on your way to getting to where you need to be.