Nutrition

The multiple meal myth

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For years it’s been advocated that eating small meals every 2-3 hours is the best way to boost your metabolism and lose weight. These days more and more fitness and nutrition experts are coming forward and saying that this is a total myth and has zero truth behind it. Yet still, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts continue to live by this nutritional regiment believing that it really is the best option. So what’s really the truth here?

First off, let’s look at how this meal-timing concept first got started. The idea behind eating 6-7 meals each day came about with bodybuilders and elite athletes needed to hit a certain amount of total calories and macros (protein, carbs and fat) in a 24 hour period, in order to build muscle and improve performance. Athletes in general have to eat a lot of food and bodybuilders in particular have to hit their numbers or they’ll never be able to gain mass and lose body fat. The body can only absorb so many nutrients at one time, whatever it can’t take in in terms of vitamins and minerals is usually excreted through your pee and for your macros, it’ll be absorbed as body fat. A prime example is with protein. Usually you can absorb 30-50 grams of protein in one meal. So for a bodybuilder needing to take in well over 1oo grams of protein per day, getting that and absorbing that in three meals only, just isn’t going to work. So instead, we take our daily calorie and macro goals, separate it into many smaller meals instead and eat at 2-3 hour intervals. The whole metabolism thing is really not substantiated just yet, so stay tuned…

Since I decided to start competing in 2016, I’ve been eating about 7 meals every day, usually around the 2 hour mark. I’ve always liked it and have found that my body responds very well to it, mostly because my meals end up being very balanced and my nutrient timing is on point. It definitely makes it a lot easier to handle a diet when you know at the end of a meal, there’s gonna be another one right around the corner in only 2 hours. Those last few weeks of contest prep can be really intense, so this definitely alleviates some of the strain.

It can be a challenge to eat this much and this often at first. I know so many people who just can’t wrap their minds around the shear volume of food that they need to be having daily. The majority of people that I work with at some point or another just don’t buy it when I show them their meal plan; they always think it’s too much food and there is no way they will reach their goals by eating this much. But it works, time and again, not only for them but for myself as well. Plus, it’s really nice to be able to eat a lot. Obviously I’m not talking junky-type food here, I’m talking nutrient dense food and plenty of it.

For some, eating every couple of hours just isn’t possible either because of the timing, obligations with family or their jobs, etc. But there’s nothing stopping you from trying out 3 larger meals and maybe one really substantial snack. If that’s what works best for your schedule then go for it. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to eat for your goals and get lots of nutrition in on a daily basis.

There you have it, the real reason behind this multiple mini-meal concept. Although you will no doubt be hearing lots of people coming forward to dispel this concept, it can still be very valuable to you and help you make great progress. However you may choose to eat your meals, focus always on nutrient value first and take it from there.

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Fitness, Nutrition, Wellness

Pulling myself together

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To say that the last two years of my life have been tough would be the biggest understatement ever. Not only have I dealt with health issues, lost loved ones and a job last year, but now just as I thought things were starting to get stable, my marriage is ending. This all happened very suddenly without warning and was a huge shock, now I’m once again picking up the pieces and attempting rally myself back into sanity.

I wish I could say that I channeled all of my anger and hurt into some pretty beastly workouts, but that’s not the case and it’s definitely not what I needed. I decided to not force myself or try to push myself into what did not feel right. What I really needed was a break. I was already planning on taking a week off of training following my photo shoot and boy did I need it. This all happened to coincide with my starting a new job, so that extra time off was not only helpful physically and emotionally (due to my impending divorce), but it was also helpful in giving myself the capacity to focus on some new work.

So I took the week off and gave myself a breather. I started working out again, but keeping it very quick, about 30 minutes of weight training on my lunch break. It’s just the right amount time to work up a small sweat and maintain my mass. Now is not the time to be going full speed ahead that’s for sure. And although I was planning on starting to prep for Nationals and maybe doing a mass gain, I decided to hold off for at least a month. This will give me enough time to get into a good rhythm and routine with my day to day and new life altogether.

In terms of nutrition, well let’s just say that I’m going really easy on myself. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been ordering in or getting take-out, eating whatever I felt like and it’s been good. I’m not binge eating or overeating, but I’m not regimented either. No measuring or weighing food, no macro calculations or anything like that. I am still trying to keep it balanced, but if I do feel like having a bucket of spaghetti and a slice of chocolate cake, then I will. If I feel like ordering pizza and breadsticks and fries, then I do. I’m just eating well without overdoing it or beating myself up over anything. I must say that it’s nice to not be doing a big meal prep and to instead just pack leftovers for lunch or pick up something that looks good and healthy.

The positive thing is that now I’ve started to really develop a good night time ritual where I drink a hot chamomile tea on my balcony in the evening in my jammies and then curl up in bed with a good book and read before it’s lights out. I haven’t gotten into meditation or anything like that, but I’m sure it’ll come along soon enough.

Apart from my changing eating habits and my intense urge in wanting to redecorate my home by going on a daily shopping spree, everything is still good and I’m hanging in there. Whatever message the universe keeps trying to send me, I guess it hasn’t come through yet, but at least for now I can enjoy some extra independence. Maybe having more leeway will allow me to create even better habits in the long run and make my prep for Nationals a little less intense that I had planned. No matter how this plays out, I’m still an athlete and still competing and still coaching people, maybe just at a slower pace for now.