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How often should we eat?

Anyone who has read my posts knows I'm an iconoclast.  I'm not that way just to be controversial.  I truly believe that most of the conventional wisdom regarding health and fitness is wrong.  I certainly put my money where my mouth is when we opened a fitness place that believes that exercise should be done once or twice a week for only 20 minutes.  There are times, at CWSS, when we even have mini disagreements among ourselves.  Even though we are all fit and lean, we still debate, around the edges, on the best ways to get there.  This proves that there are many paths to the promised land.  Below is one of mine.

Lets not talk about content of our meals, but timing.  Conventional wisdom says to eat often.  Keep your "fat burning furnace" active.  Eat every 2-3 hours.  3 meals and 2 snacks.  Whenever I take on a shibboleth like this I always have the benefit of being able to say "How's it working?"  Society has been following this prescription for about 20 years.  I think it's a failure.  Without getting into science, lets just follow the logic stream.

So what do I believe?  I adhere to the paleo philosophy.  I think humans, which have existed, let's say, 2 million years are genetically programmed to preserve calories.  Starvation, throughout history, has been the biggest, single problem facing mankind.  It's only been 50 years or so that we've had to handle abundance.  I contend that the 1,999,950 years take precedence.  My guess is that cavemen probably made a kill, gorged, sat around resting, then went out looking for food again.  The idea that we can burn more calories by eating more often is comparable to walking on a treadmill and watching the news.  If both of these acts worked, how would we survive as a species?

In a nutshell, I buy into IF or Intermittent Fasting.  Humans have fasted either by necessity or choice for eons.  I think it's healthy to rest from digestion.  I implement this by eating 2 and only 2 meals most days.  No snacks.   I basically go from dinner until lunch the next day.  That gives me about 17 hours without food.  What about breakfast being the most important meal of the day?  Puhleez.  When I used to eat breakfast I still ate a bunch for lunch.  Now I eat the same amount without the extra calories of breakfast.

Some of the benefits to doing this:

  1. When you eat many times in the day, it's difficult to monitor how much you're consuming.  When you eat twice a day, it's very clear.
  2. We learn to manage a little hunger.  This is so important.  As a society we are taught to not go 2 minutes hungry.  Eat right away.  I contend there is a difference between a little hunger and dangerous starvation... When you learn how to control and experience a touch of hunger you find it doesn't last long.  You get confident. It becomes no big deal.  Frankly, I find it invigorating.
  3. The meals you have are more enjoyable.
  4. When you snack or eat often, it becomes much easier to consume food mindlessly.  We all know what that means.


Is what I advocate controversial.  To quote a current renowned politician "You betcha".  All different ideas start that way.  However, personally, I not only find this effective, but eminently manageable.

Go ahead; take your foot off first base and give it a try.

Keith Morton

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