When it comes to eating time schedule, people have shifted their habits in recent years. It’s very different from how people ate in the past.
Most people eat between four and eight times a day in snacks, skipping the main meals.
In this article, you’ll learn about healthy eating and meal planning, the importance of getting enough macronutrients, as well as other valuable nutrition-related information.
Make sure you’re comfortable and let’s begin.
The Principles of Meal Timing
Following a thorough study, right before the ’80s, people consumed four-fifths of their daily nutrients from three main meals and the rest from snacks.
Nowadays, the main meals make up only three-quarters of an average person’s daily caloric intake, while the remaining part comes from snacks.
Due to late-night snacking and unscheduled meals, statistics show that there are more than 1.5 billion overweight people. As a result, scientists are now seeking to answer whether meal timing could be the answer to the current obesity pandemic.
The Ideal Food Scheduling Plan
The ideal food plan consists of 3 main dishes and healthy snacks in between. You should start with a proper breakfast, calorically saturated and full of protein. The perfect time to do that is roughly half an hour after you wake up.
Following the macro timing strategy, you wait about 4 hours till lunch comes, remembering that it should be both high in calories and contain all the macronutrients (fats, protein, and carbohydrates).
And lastly, dinner should be ready about 3 hours before you plan on going to bed, and lighter than lunch. Keep the snacks healthy to make sure you stay full and nourished.
Eating Habits and Tactics — The Science Speaks
You can manage calories and hunger by eating meals and snacks at specific times of the day. The best strategy is to do that by eating 3 meals and 2 snacks daily.
The ideal time for a meal-snack-meal strategy is to fit it into a 12-hour time window. For example, your eating time frame can be between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. So the best time to eat breakfast should be around 6 a.m., a meal-snack package around noon, and dinner sometime around 6 p.m.
Breakfast and lunch and the snacks in between should consist of a greater number of calories and nutrients, while dinner should be lighter.
Natural Foods and Intermittent Fasting
Natural foods that aren’t processed are preferable to the packed ones that contain tons of sugar and unhealthy fats. Some of the natural foods include whole-grain foods, legumes, fruits, and green leafy vegetables.
You can either approach meal timing for weight loss or for other purposes, depending on your goals. For those suffering from obesity, diabetic patients, and cardiac patients, intermittent fasting is the first step towards relief.
It can improve the overall metabolic state but is also good for memory, heart health, and physical performance.
Bodybuilding and Food Planning
Athletes must pay attention to their diet and nutrition. People who want to gain or lose weight should have a strong grasp of how different foods impact their weight and their current fitness plans and goals.
It can take months or even years to gain weight. Therefore, bodybuilders need to wisely plan their meal timing for muscle gain. Besides, they need to enrich it with more caloric foods and protein-rich meals in order to maximize muscle growth.
Number of Daily Meals
The number of main meals a person should eat on a daily basis is still debatable.
According to a recent study, people can consume between three and six meals every day. It’s up to you to see what are the best breakfast, lunch, and dinner times, and what works best for your body, as long as you eat healthily and don’t overeat.
Working Out Food List
When planning what to eat in the course of a week, bodybuilders and other athletes have plenty of choices but generally should focus on meals rich in calories, proteins, and other nutrients.
Consuming the right foods before training and afterward can increase the results. Think of it similar to how a car uses gas — that fuels the machine and gives it the energy to work. In a similar manner, the fuel for our bodies when training is carbs.
They provide us with energy throughout the whole session. After the training is done, the refueling goes with a set of proteins and carbs. Of course, fats come in handy as well.
Proteins are a must in every meal when it comes to meal timing for bodybuilding. Protein aids in weight loss by promoting fullness and helps develop and maintain muscle mass.
Athletes need to be mindful of adequate protein intake, found in foods such as chickpeas, lentils, seitan, beans, etc. If you’re unsure just how much protein (or any other macro) you need on a daily basis, you can always check the macro calculator and plan your meals accordingly.
It’s a common misbelief that proteins are the main source of energy needed during training, but in reality, it’s carbs. A commonly accepted practice is that the best time to eat carbs is before the session. Also, you need to include them in the meals afterward.
People can’t have healthy digestion, appetite, or cholesterol without carbs, and they play a crucial role in all of these processes. In order to satisfy your daily carb requirements, you should include foods such as oatmeal, cereals, popcorn, and quinoa.
The third macronutrient is fat. Athletes should include not only proteins and carbs but also healthy fats in their food schedules.
Foods high in good fats include fruits like avocado, healthy oils like olive oil, and fat-rich nuts and seeds that are easy to incorporate into any meal you prepare.
Medical Factors to Consider When Planning Your Meals
Our bodies’ circadian rhythm and metabolic alterations are greatly influenced by a scheduled time for meals. Body weight concerns, such as obesity, problems with diabetes, and frequent heart problems, are the most common consequences of a poor or bad food intake schedule.
The Metabolism and the Circadian Rhythm
It is important to understand the circadian timing system and the role it plays in regulating numerous bodily functions.
Your circadian rhythm is an internal clock that follows your physical and mental changes in a 24-hour period and is not unique to humans but affects most living beings — including microbes.
Due to the modern lifestyle, there are lots of diseases, including common psychological disorders, that arise due to a discontinued lifestyle and irregular eating habits.
In addition, there’s a correlation between short-term disturbances and a decrease in well-being and other cognitive abilities.
Blood Sugar Considerations
It’s a well-known fact that sugar levels in your blood are affected by the food schedule. Due to health problems from irregular food intake, studies show that one-third of the American population is on a special nutrition program.
For people living with diabetes, the food intake should be separated by 4 hours from meal to meal in order to stabilize and regulate the glucose in the blood. Snacks between main meals are considered safe as soon the hunger strikes.
It doesn’t matter how big your main dish is — the sugar levels fall down after two or three hours of food intake. Also, eating time schedule with a single meal a day is not a healthy practice because of the possibility of insufficient energy once the sugar level drops.
Eating at The Right Time — Benefits and Outcome
If you want to feel all the benefits of eating at the right time, you need to follow certain steps in order to reach your goal. Some of the benefits you can expect from a proper eating routine are improved and stable digestion, reduction of fat storage, as well as improved mood and well-being.
Maintain Proper Routine
Eating every day at the same time helps you maintain a strict and beneficial routine, which evolves into a healthy habit.
With proper meal timing, you’ll enjoy being more relaxed and stress-free, gaining self-control, getting a good night’s sleep, and waking up early in the morning with no struggle.
Eating meals at the same time every day regulates the digestive system, giving the stomach enough time to digest and absorb nutrients. On the contrary, skipping your eating schedule easily leads to irregular or bad digestion.
With that being said, your nutrition time plan should consist of at least three meals every day in order to keep your stomach healthy and in proper working order.
Lowers Your Body’s Fat Storage
Eating healthy and at the same time every day will keep you full longer, reducing the need for binge snacking that’s mostly responsible for uncontrolled weight gain.
While some people prefer eating five to six smaller meals during the day, keep in mind there is evidence suggesting this can lead to increased body fat and weight gain.
1. What time should you eat breakfast?
In order to get your body ready for the day ahead, it is best to eat within 30 minutes to an hour of waking up. The optimal time to have your “first meal” is between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. in the morning.
You’ll have plenty of time to get ready for your next meal, which should follow a couple of hours later. It’s widely known that after waking up, the insulin is at a reduced level, making the insulin release a lot easier.
2. What is proper nutrient timing?
There’s an aspect called “the anabolic window” that gets massive attention. Furthermore, the term “window of opportunity” refers to the post-exercise period when the body is in the best state for absorbing nutrients, which can last anywhere from a quarter to nearly an hour.
So, if you want to get the most out of nutrients, you should eat them during these times.
3. Does the timing of protein matter?
The timing and even the dosing of protein are not that strict — you can either consume it before training or afterward. Some fitness trainers suggest having a protein intake of 2-3 times a day, while others 4-6 times during the whole day.
If you consume 4 to 6 servings each day, you’ll gain muscle faster than if you don’t. Muscle growth is more dependent on how much protein you consume and how often you make protein saturations during this period.
4. When to eat carbs?
When talking about eating carbs, experts recommend eating them first thing in the morning. That way, you’ll be full of energy throughout the whole day, and your blood sugar will maintain a steady level.
On the other hand, eating them at night is the wrong move. That’s because you’re giving your body “fuel” while preparing it to go to sleep. So, eating carbs before going to sleep most certainly will turn into fat.
5. What time is late lunch?
It’s a late lunch if you eat at 3 p.m.
The most common time to have lunch is between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Seniors who prefer early supper regularly go out for supper at 4 pm.
We just have to learn to listen to our bodies’ intrinsic wisdom so that it can influence our eating habits during the day. Planning the time for meals is essential in helping our bodies establish dependable feelings of hunger.
We’ll begin to observe day-to-day variations in our hunger and fullness cues as our awareness improves. There will be days when we need to eat more frequently and in larger portions, and there will be days when we don’t.