Meal frequency

It is widely believed that distributing your food intake across several meals during the day is beneficial and can improve you diet. While this is true, the reasoning behind this philosophy is unknown to most. Eating five, even meals every day does not promote fat loss or muscle gain.

We would lose the exact same amount of fat by eating at the same daily deficit whether we consume one big meal or several smaller ones. Dissecting the calories into different meals helps by improving the way we feel. Not eating for 18 hours can be very tedious. Consuming regular meals ensures that our energy levels remain steady throughout the day (which is further enforced by relying on fats and complex carbohydrates as your energy providers).

The same applies for a caloric surplus. There is no difference between eating one huge meal and eating several reasonable ones. However how it makes us feel is very important for functioning. Stuffing four thousand calories into our bodies in a single sitting will be detrimental to the way we feel through the rest of the day.

The amount of meals optimal to someone’s well-being is not the same for all of us. Usually more distribution leads to feeling better, but it is there is no rule that eating five is perfect. We need to consider our schedules and bodily reactions when creating the perfect meal plan.

Most sites advocate certain times for eating protein – in the morning, before a workout, post-workout, before going to bed et cetera. They rely on information provided by studies done on fasted athletes, paid for by supplement companies. It is no wonder the new INSERT GENERIC WHEY NAME provides an anabolic response in people that haven’t eaten in 16 hours. If we eat like normal human beings then protein timing does not serve any other function than making sure you feel good and not bloated.

Metabolism, recovery

There are measurable differences in basal metabolic rates. However, 96% of the population is within 10-16% of the average and 68% of the population is within 6-8%. Therefore blaming your genetics for either being under- or overweight is ludicrous. The most extreme cases (under 5 percentile) showcase differences of 600kcal and the probability of that occurring between two random people are 0.5%.

We are varying in our basal metabolic rates, however the variances are usually low and attribute to nothing in our athletics and aesthetics. If it seems to you that gaining or losing weight is really hard for you for some reason I recommend calculating your total daily energy expenditure and simply write down everything you eat for a week (a month would be more beneficial) or insert those numbers to a smart phone app. I assure you that the numbers can be quite bewildering to most. If you naturally have a slow or fast metabolism then adding or retracting those 200kcals seems very easy once we truly know our intake.

Those variances do not affect recovery times. Those are attributed to many different factors like age, hours spend sleeping, active recoveries, vitamin and mineral intake, macronutrient distribution and intake, hormonal levels (heavily influenced by testosterone) – therefore also affected by genetics. Frequency of training sessions should be determined by our athletic background, time spend on active recovery and the nature of our training. If a lifting novice performs heavy compound lifts every single session, then it is recommended to provide enough time in-between to rest and recover. Our bodies adapt, albeit slowly, to the resistance and our recovery rates hasten. Professional athletes can train several times a day – although the nature of each session is different and can be categorized to heavy or light workouts – because not only have their bodies adapted form years of exercising but also because they get deep tissue massages, swim, spend time in saunas and cryogenic chambers. Foam rolling and stretching is a staple of many programs nowadays.

When determining your own frequency it is necessary to understand and listen to your body. Stalling and hitting a so-called plateau may mean that you are pushing your body too far and if your numbers are going backwards, then deloading and reassessing your program is paramount. Broader distribution of workouts can help, but if we are conscious about how our body recovers then by amplifying that recovery we can successfully up the frequency of training, steer clear of injury and therefore reach our goals faster.

Overboard dieting

Due to having issues with self-image a lot of active girls consume so little that their caloric deficit reaches as much as 1000kcal and more. Not only is it hard to absorb all the necessary minerals and vitamins on a diet such as this, it’s detrimental to health in other ways too.

When a human body does not get enough energy everyday to fuel itself it shuts down systems it deems unnecessary for survival. In women this surfaces most commonly as problems with the menstrual cycle. There are women that have skipped their period for two years propably in everyone’s proximity, when fertility problems arise as soon as a couple of months. This is a big issue that I don’t see being tackled.

Another reason for this can be not consuming enough fat, even though the rest of the diet is reasonable. Female athletes often suffer because of this. Among women there is this belief, born in the 90s, that low fat diets are healthy. This is simply not true, eating fats is incredibly important, I can’t stress this enough. Also if you are fit and not overweight than there is no such thing as ‘bad’ fats. Some of them may be carcinogenic if you use them for frying, but there are many that do not have any adverse side effects no matter how heated up they get. Saturated or unsatured – we need both of those in healthy doses.

Now when an active woman goes to a gynaecologist the doctor almost always presribes contraceptive pills to deal with the symptoms rather than the cause of the issue. On the other hand some female athletes are happy that they are skipping menstruation, as it can interfere with the training regimen. There is nothing to be happy about, this is an issue and it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. Adjust and monitor your diet, please.