What we eat affects our health and our looks. There is no question about that. But not only is the type and quantity of food you eat is key, when you have your meals and how often you eat is also important. If you want to succeed in improving your health and fitness, you’ll want to keep reading.
When you eat has a huge impact on your health & fitness. Let’s start from the very beginning. When you wake up in the morning, your body hasn’t had any food for many hours. Your blood sugar level is low, and you are running on stored energy. Once those reserves are used up, your body will turn to its next available source of fuel, your muscles! It’s very difficult to work out hard and focus on getting fit when you’re groggy, hungry, and your body is cannibalizing the muscles for energy. You need to eat your first meal as soon as you can after waking up in the morning. This gets your body fueled up and preserves your muscles.
So now you know how important it is to eat as soon as possible after you get up. This gets your blood sugar to the correct level (assuming you are eating healthy stuff) for you to function well and preserves your muscles. You’ll feel better, function better, work out harder, and preserve your muscles while getting into shape.
Focusing on your blood sugar tells you more than when you should eat. Your body takes 3 to 4 hours to digest a meal. Once you’ve digested the food in your stomach, your blood sugar level begins to decline. That’s why, even if you ate a healthy nutritious meal, you’ll start to fade a bit several hours later. What this tells us is that (except when you’re sleeping) you shouldn’t go more than 3 to 4 hours without eating something. If you don’t, even if you feel ok, your body will experience the same negative effects as you would if you skipped breakfast.
If you have to eat every three hours or so, you’re going to be eating more than three meals a day. For most people, that means five or six smaller meals a day, rather than three large ones. Eating that frequently, starting first thing in the morning, means you’ll never go more than three to three and a half hours between meals. Eat decent food at each of those meals and you will find that your blood sugar levels remain where you want them at all times.
Since you’re eating more meals, you need to reduce their size. One common way to do this is to have somewhat smaller meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and supplement them with two nutritious snacks of around 100 calories. Those snacks are then eaten between each of the main meals or one between lunch and dinner and the other in the evening.