When you’re hungry, that’s the best time to eat, for crying out loud! Or when it works best for your schedule. I came across this chart for when the best times to eat are. These things get me fired up because I fell into these fear mongering tactics myself. Don’t eat carbs after 12, don’t eat after 5, eat every 2-3 hours, etc… The list goes on and on. The carb one is so crazy – imagine not eating carbs after 12. I don’t know about you, but I’d be hungry – especially because I train in the afternoon. Thinking back on it, I was always real hungry the rest of the day.
The ideal time to eat your meals is based on each individual – their work schedule, sleep schedule, etc… To draw a line defining the ideal time is hogwash. The ideal time is when it works best for YOU, not what somebody else says. So what if you work 3rd shift and like to come home from work and go to straight to bed? What are you supposed to do? Not eat when you wake up because you missed the ideal time to eat, which according to this chart it says to eat between 7-8, and no later than 10….. and finally, you must eat within 30 minutes of waking up. Really?!
The eat every 2-3 hours is a broke down system as well. I confess, I followed it too. Especially during my Figure competing days. The idea behind the eating every 2-3 hours was to keep the metabolism stoked, so to speak. To keep it burning calories, and if you didn’t, you would starve to death or burn muscle. Another reason is to keep cravings at bay – many people don’t eat until they’re starved, then they binge. This may work for them, but other people can’t stand eating that often, or don’t have the freedom to do so. Meal frequency has been scientifically proven to be unnecessary. Just a myth. It really comes down to personal preference – it’s not set in stone that you have to eat every three hours to achieve fat loss results. It really comes down to the total amount of calories consumed in a day.
Here’s a few resources for you to draw your own conclusion:
A note – the requirement to not eat carbs after a certain time or at night is another myth. There is no magic carb fairy that waves it’s wand and packs fat on your butt because you eat carbs after 12 or at night. Again, it comes down to total amount of calories consumed for the day. You can eat at 11pm at night if you’re hungry and haven’t reached your calorie intake for the night. I repeat eating CARBS or FAT at night will not make you gain weight unless you’re eating in a surplus. This is just another rule that was created for dieting. In fact, I eat later in the night quite frequently – it isn’t unusual for me to have dinner after 8 PM, followed by snack….not a big deal, just the way my day works out at times.
The take away:
- Eating times are based on personal preference
- Carbs don’t make you fat per se, neither does fat, unless you are eating more calories than you burn (surplus)
- You don’t have to eat every 2-3 hours if you don’t want to. The meal amount or frequency will not impact your physique if you don’t eat every 2-3 hours
P.S. – I put together a simple and sane guide to help you navigate how to eat. It’s super simple and can be applied to your everyday life. You can grab it right here and join the Beauty of Strength Community of Strong Beautiful Women!