You may well have heard that in order to maximise the nutrition you get out of your food, you should be eating smaller, more frequent meals 5 to 8 times a day. While this can work to minimise bodyfat for bodybuilders, it definitely does not work for all… Many of us work, afterall, and this regular eating just isn’t possible, nor is it essential.

What is essential is understanding how different types of foods effect you… What to eat when, and what to avoid. We’ve all heard about the ‘no carbs in the evening’ rule… This is also wrong! (but more on that later…) The thinking behind the smaller, frequent meals is that eating provides a boost to your metabolism rate. Digesting also burns calories as your body works to break down and distribute the nutrients you put in (as does the usual walking, thinking, breathing etc.), but this is a relatively small amount in the grand scheme of things.

What is important to know is the thermic value of foods. You are probably aware that many fitness nutrition plans include a high amount of protein. This is because protein takes the most energy to break down into amino acids, almost 30% of the calories you consume through protein is used for this task alone. Carbohydrates are much less efficient in this way, taking 6 to 8%, and fats a measly 4%, despite having the highest calorific value. But they all have their benefits, and you should never avoid any one group completely.

After this initial calorie consumption, the rest of your meal is distributed as adipose tissue, the non-utilised stuff that makes you gain weight, or is passed down through the digestive system, unless it is utilised. So, although having smaller, regular meals can help with routine and discipline, it isn’t always as good as you may think for fitness. The main reason is: hunger management. Smaller meals don’t always provide the satiated, full feeling of a larger meal, and can therefore lead to a higher overall calorie intake from snacks. This higher frequency of eating carbs also messes with your insulin levels as it is overproduced to deal with the constant flow of glucose, and this also only serves to make you more… yep, you guessed it… hungry.

So please remember, by not eating at certain times each day you are not harming yourself or your nutrition. Your body is a magnificent machine and truly doesn’t care if it eats 10 meals a day or 3, as long as the calorific intake and balance is the same. But think about yourself as a machine… a machine that is checked, tinkered with and maintained 10 times a day is going to perform a lot better than one that’s checked in the morning and at night… It’s all about what feels right. If you feel hungry, you feel weak. If you feel weak, you are more susceptible to reaching for a sugar or carbs ‘fix’. Be full, be happy, and let your body do what it has evolved to do.

Now tell me about the carbs!

Okay, okay… I was getting to that: Recently, researchers from the Hebrew University in Israel conducted an experiment for the Journal of Obesity. Two groups of 39 police staff were given the same controlled diet over six months, with the same amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates and fat. The difference being that the control group ate their carbs steadily throughout the day, and the experimental group ate the majority (80%) of their carbs in the evening, as Muslims do during Ramadan, every year… And you’ll never guess what they found.. The experimental group not only lost significantly more bodyfat and overall weight, but had higher levels of leptin (the satiety hormone), lower levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone), improved blood sugar and blood lipids, and felt much more satisfied overall.

So why am I punishing myself?

The truth is… Some of us quite like it. We like feeling light on our feet and healthier. Some of us don’t like being weighed down by large meals all the time. We like to feel like we are ready to be active at all times… That’s why. But it doesn’t mean that we should avoid these meals when we really feel like them. Listening to your body is the best advice any nutritionist can give.

Meal composition

So, let’s take a look at an example daily intake for someone returning to a healthy regime and starting to exercise. We aren’t here to shock your body, the plan is to put good things in, and get the best out. Remember to listen, if any food change is making you feel sick, change it.

First, let’s figure out what you need…

So, for a 15 stone (210 lbs), average, mildly active individual: (210 x 10 = 2100, x 1 = 2100, x 1.2 = 2520 calories.

Of this 2520 calories, 20-30% of it should be fat. Fat is 9 calories per gram, so:

25% = 630 / 9 = 70g fat

The rest should be split EQUALLY between protein and carbs, which are 4 calories per gram, so:

25% = 2520 – 630 = 1890 / 2 = 945 calories / 4 = 236.25g carbs and protein

But I consume whey more protein than that! We hear you!… How can you get the most out of it? There is one thing that makes a huge difference, and that is digestive enzymes. By adding digestive enzymes to your nutrition program you can raise your amino acid levels from 30% to an incredible 127%, drastically improving protein absorption from your whey shakes and other sources. This article does a great job of explaining it all. Happy reading.

See you at the top.

The Intrim Team

Article Name
Getting started with Nutrition: Knowing your body. Nutrition calculator.
Getting started with nutrition? Calculate your daily nutrition and understand how carbohydrates, fat, protein and glucose affect your fitness and energy.
Written by Intrim Power