Meal Timing & Frequency: Does it matter when you eat?

You’ll find a lot of advice on the internet about when and how often you should eat to meet your fitness goals. But will altering your meal schedule actually help you get the body you want? Let’s find out…

Is it beneficial to eat small, frequent meals?

Does eating small, frequent meals affect your weight? The answer is a resounding NO! If your goal is to lose or gain weight, you need to focus on one thing and one thing only – your total daily intake of calories. 

To lose weight, you need to have a calorie deficit diet. This means that you need to burn more calories than you consume daily. On the other hand, to gain weight, you need to have a calorie surplus diet. That is, you need to consume more than you burn.

When or how you consume these calories is irrelevant. Whether you eat 3 meals or 5, your total daily calorie intake remains the same, you are going to see no significant difference in how much you weigh.

Is the timing of your meals important?

A lot of people believe that you shouldn’t eat after 8 pm if you want to lose weight. This belief stems from the flawed logic that one expends little to no energy after dinner, and so the calories one consumes at night are all likely to turn to flab.

The truth is that our bodies are at work 24/7 – breaking down foods, building and repairing – more so when we are resting or asleep. So it doesn’t matter when you eat or what you do after you eat. What matters again is your total daily intake of calories – whether it is in deficit or surplus.

What’s the best time to take protein?

Another common myth is to do with muscle mass and protein intake. People who want to build muscle mass often believe that it is essential to consume a fast-digesting protein, such as whey, immediately after working out. Again, this is false! The timing of your protein intake is irrelevant.

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As long as you are consuming the total amount of protein that your body needs in a day, you don’t need to worry about what you eat right after your workout. Even if you take a big protein-filled meal just once a day, you’ll still have a steady supply of amino acids for your muscles all day long. It’s also important to remember that the body digests protein extremely slowly and can take as much as 8 hours to break it down.

All in all, what you really need to focus on is meeting your daily macronutrient targets and calorie requirements, without getting fussed over timings and frequency of meals, which do nothing else but complicate your daily routine.

So go ahead, enjoy those late-night carbs. Devour that dosa or rice after 8 pm. Have your fruits before sleeping. Stay fasted all morning. Have 2 meals a day or 6 meals a day. The choice is completely yours!

And if you need help in formulating a customised meal plans for your current lifestyle and fitness goals, check out our MSF Transformation Plans, and throw all the guesswork out of the window.  

Disclaimer: None of the information or statements contained in this article is intended to replace the instructions from your health care professional.