If you’ve read some of my other work, you know one of the main principles I talk about is having a meal structure. If you want to gain weight, forget about meal structure, and eat as often as you can. For most of us, we are trying to avoid weight gain. Having set eating times will help control calorie intake as well as help us feel our best in terms of digestion, simplicity, and probably your wallet.
Switching it up once in a while is a good idea, especially if you are feeling burnt out. If you plateau on a goal, are injured or taking it easy, or just in need of a change, meal structure can be a big help. Here are some ideas:
Go to a light breakfast, big lunch, light dinner. This structure is great for sleeping, because you won’t feel full or heavy before bed. Something like: Greek Yogurt, berries, nuts for breakfast. Lunch would be more of a dinner option and portion, and dinner could be a meal replacement shake, a light salad with a protein, or half a wrap.
Fasting until about 3-5pm. I’m not a huge proponent of fasting, I think it has its place, can be helpful, but is in no way a miracle worker. However, if you went on a vacation, or just find yourself eating a lot more often, craving stronger flavored foods (think fruity pebbles, not apples), and just need a timeout on things, fasting can be a great tool. Drinking water or snacking on fruit during the day, and having one bigger meal between lunch and dinner is one way to go. I wouldn’t do it forever, but 2 to 6 weeks may be appropriate. Eating at this time will help you stay sane during the day because it’s not that late in the day, and it will keep you relatively full until you go to sleep. Be sure to choose a lot of veggies first, protein, and some starch. In my experience, you will find that subtle flavors will become much more appealing, and you will appreciate fresh fruits and vegetables a lot more. Think of it as a reset for your taste buds.
6 meal a day “metabolic furnace”. The concept of stoking that metabolic furnace has been proven mostly incorrect. It came from bodybuilding, where it was a necessity. If you lift weights all day, you’ll need more meals to keep up with demand. It turns out the fat shredding, muscle popping effects came from…..working out a lot, chicken and rice, and perhaps some illegal items. There is merit, however, to eating multiple smaller meals. The downside is you are never that full, but the upside is you get to eat every few hours. If you are increasing your workout routine or will be training for something new, this meal structure can be helpful to train more often without being full. It could just be a nice mental change-up.
You need to do what’s best for you. Just remember, there really is no right way. Find your path, experiment, and learn from experiences.