Autonomy 🤸🍔✊ GMB Fitness

How Often Should I Eat?

August 27, 2020 GMB Fitness Season 2
Autonomy 🤸🍔✊ GMB Fitness
How Often Should I Eat?
Chapters
0:10
Eating Frequency for the General Population
8:52
Emotional Eating
14:51
Fasting
22:49
Carbs
28:41
Bonus Tip
Autonomy 🤸🍔✊ GMB Fitness
How Often Should I Eat?
Aug 27, 2020 Season 2
GMB Fitness

One of the biggest questions folks have is about eating timing and frequency. How much does it matter? When does it matter? Who does it matter for?

This is one of those topics where it seems like everyone has an opinion.

This episode covers everything from intermittent fasting and two meals per day, booming now, to old school bodybuilding and five meals per day. We give an overview of how to know if you're hungry for a snack, or if it's just stress. On the other end we cover why you probably don't want to skip meals either.

Most importantly, we'll teach you how to make decisions around meal frequency and make the right choices for your needs and goals.

Resources Mentioned:


Support the show (https://gmb.io/podcast/)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

One of the biggest questions folks have is about eating timing and frequency. How much does it matter? When does it matter? Who does it matter for?

This is one of those topics where it seems like everyone has an opinion.

This episode covers everything from intermittent fasting and two meals per day, booming now, to old school bodybuilding and five meals per day. We give an overview of how to know if you're hungry for a snack, or if it's just stress. On the other end we cover why you probably don't want to skip meals either.

Most importantly, we'll teach you how to make decisions around meal frequency and make the right choices for your needs and goals.

Resources Mentioned:


Support the show (https://gmb.io/podcast/)

Ryan:
Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Gigabyte Metropolis Bananagram, that's right, here with Josh, again. How you doing, man?
 
Josh:
Hey. What's up, dude? Good. Good, good.
 
Eating Frequency for the General Population
 
Ryan:
Good, good. All right. All right. So today, I thought we could talk a little bit about frequency of eating. There's a lot of different, not just diets out there, but like ways of eating right now. I mean, heck you've got the old style bodybuilding style of eating, where it's minimum of three small meals a day to make sure that you're stoking the fires and keeping the stove burning. And then you've got all the way from the intermittent fasting, different protocols of that even, looking at different eating windows. And as well, how many times you might eat, what else is out there, the warrior diet, which typically different variations of it, of course, where they've got like you eat once a day but like graze throughout the day, which is weird.
 
Ryan:
I have explored so many different ways of eating. Right now, you know this, I mean, intermittent fasting is something that I've done for years. It's just a good way that I really enjoy eating. And I only eat two meals a day. Today, I thought we could really talk about this. And so what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat it, that sort of good thing. So well, I'll let you go ahead and jump in there and talk a little bit about how often should we be eating.
 
Josh:
Yeah. We get tons of questions about this. This is something that it really is so all over the place that everyone doesn't know. And it's interesting because the research on eating frequency shows that there actually is a wide range of what's possible. The optimal can be anywhere from two to five meals a day. When I say meal in this, I mean like times of eating. So like the old bodybuilder way of like three meals, three snacks would be considered like six meals in eating frequency research.
 
Josh:
So there is this wide range, but most people are going to do better, like somewhere in the three to four meal range. And this is one of those things where it is totally cool like if intermittent fasting works for you, and it also is totally cool if someone's like a high level athlete and they do have some reason that they need to eat five times a day or whatever. Those two things are cool. And yet, for most people, what's going to work the best for practicality and for being able to regulate their own eating naturally is going to be somewhere in like three to four meals.
 
Josh:
So the thing about super high frequency eating, like snacking a lot, is that one, most of clients, so population makes a difference. Most of our clients aren't super high level athletes, and they are bodybuilders. They are like, "I need to maintain 220 pounds of muscle."
 
Ryan:
Yeah. Exactly. You're talking, let's just be honest, like the average Joe out there like us.
 
Josh:
Yeah.
 
Ryan:
We're not, as you say, bodybuilders, or extreme athletes or anything like that. Yeah. Right. Yeah.
 
Josh:
Yeah. Most of our people are just folks that have families and work, and want to be fit and move well. And so most of them don't need to like, what did you say, stoke the metabolic fire, which is not a thing.
 
Ryan:
Oh, come on now. Really? Oh, I'm just sorry. Sorry to interrupt. Go ahead. Continue.
 
Josh:
You're shocked, right? You're shocked.
 
Ryan:
Yeah. I never knew that. Whoa. Whoa. Sorry.
 
Josh:
And then the other thing is just that, so for like the average person that's eating a bunch of times a day, it's mostly because they're bored, or tired, or procrastinating, or stressed out or whatever. And so most people, most of the time snacking has nothing to do with health and fitness. It's just like managing an emotion or stress.
 
Ryan:
I mean, similar to smoking. I hate to bring it up that way. But I know people who smoke. And when they try to quit, it's such a habit of just simply putting something into their mouth, that they find that they ended up just snacking more because they are in that habit of bringing something up to their face, basically. Instead of smoking, they end up snacking. And so, I don't know, that just came to mind when you were saying that. Yeah.
 
Josh:
There's that thing of like putting something in their mouth, and then there's also the thing of like managing their emotions with this external thing, which I think is like the podcast we did like two or three podcasts ago, where we really went into how to manage that. Yeah.
 
Ryan:
Right.
 
Josh:
So someone's looking for like five ways to manage that, that's back there. But for now, like for our purposes here, the big thing is just note that if you had a balanced meal and you had enough of your meal and you're hungry in between meals, like if you want food in between meals, that's probably not hunger.
 
Ryan:
I have a question about that. Sorry to interrupt.
 
Josh:
Yeah. Yeah, no, no, no. Go ahead.
 
Ryan:
There's just so much information out there. I just think this is such a great point. And especially because with me, intermittent fasting, and I've just over the years just understood that I'm going to possibly feel hungry, but what I do find is that when I do feel hungry during this time, if I just drank a glass of water I'm usually fine. And the question I have for you is, I've heard some people say that sometimes hunger is not hunger but actually the fact that you're dehydrated.
 
Josh:
Yeah.
 
Ryan:
Is that a thing?
 
Josh:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. And people get silly about it, and they're like, "Oh, you should super hydrate," duh, duh, duh, duh, duh. You don't need to do that. But if you're dehydrated, yeah, some people will absolutely feel that as hunger.
 
Josh:
And usually, the people that are in that position will see the exact same thing that you said, where they're like, "If I just drink a glass of water, then I feel fine." And then besides that, also physical fullness has to do with your stretch reflex of your stomach. And so just putting something in there can help. And then psychological cravings and stuff like that. Sometimes if they'll go get a glass of water, that gives them a chance to take a break at work or whatever.
 
Ryan:
That's a good point.
 
Josh:
And that's really all they needed.
 
Ryan:
I got you. Yeah. Cool.
 
Josh:
The absolute base level of dehydration? Absolutely. And also tiredness. There are a lot of things that can actually make us feel hungry.
 
Josh:
Oh, the other thing about that is just that like tons, and tons, and tons of research on snacking doesn't impact how much people eat at meals. So if someone has lunch and they have dinner and you put a snack in between or you don't put a snack in between, they'll still have the same amount of dinner. So if someone like did want to eat five times a day or whatever, you would have to actually like manage eating less at meals because-
 
Ryan:
I got you. Yeah.
 
Josh:
People don't that naturally.
 
Ryan:
Nah. That's interesting.
 
Josh:
And that's the biggest thing we're trying to get at is giving people some guidelines and skills where they can regulate their food naturally.
 
Ryan:
That's good. Yeah. And coming back to what you said, you might have good intentions, but if you don't have a plan, then it isn't going to happen. And so, I guess, that's where we're going out with this. So this is really good.
 
Josh:
Yeah.
 
Emotional Eating
 
Ryan:
Yeah. If you talk a little bit more about the emotional side of things, like checking in with yourself and how that can actually help in terms of what you need, do you need a snack, maybe you don't, go a little bit into that. Is that cool?
 
Josh:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. The super quick overview is that we like to put in a guideline of like fasting four to six hours, three meals, not as like a rule but as like if it's been less than four hours and I want food, I should totally check in. I should check in like, "Am I hungry for a complete meal? Do I feel this feeling in my stomach? Do I feel a hollow feeling in my stomach, or is it something else? If I pause, does it build or fade?"
 
Josh:
So a lot of times if we feel a craving and we go back to work, or we go back to hanging out with our family, if we just participate in whatever we're going to be doing anyway for a little while, it'll actually fade. Whereas hunger, it typically continues to build and build. Like 20 minutes later, you'll be more hungry. You'll feel more of a hollow feeling in your stomach. You'll want a balanced meal more. Versus like a craving, it can pass. That's a good way to check in.
 
Josh:
You can also look at the situation. And looking at the situation is useful, where you're like, "Oh yeah. I've got this project that I don't want to do," or, "I've got this thing that I'm supposed to do that I'm not good at," or like, "I just got yelled at by my boss," or a customer or whatever. That's usually a pretty solid red flag that like that's not actual hunger. So there is a lot of ways to go, like, "This isn't food." And if hunger isn't the problem, then food isn't the solution.
 
Ryan:
Yeah. Just super interesting. And I don't want to go too far into it, but it's like, "Oh man, I need a drink. Man, I had a rough day. I need a drink."
 
Josh:
Yeah.
 
Ryan:
I'm right there with you. I'll have a drink. I hear you. It's not that you maybe don't need it, but it's just taking a step back and saying, "Okay. Is this simply because something has happened, or is it actually because I'm hungry?" is what you're saying. And I like that. Really good.
 
Josh:
The thing about the drink is like, "Am I having my favorite whiskey ever because it's fun to sit on the porch with my fiancé and chat," or is it like, "Oh, I had a bad day. I'm going to-"
 
Ryan:
Right. Yeah. Yeah.
 
Josh:
Like the context is so-
 
Ryan:
Like, "Screw it."
 
Josh:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
 
Ryan:
Yeah. "I'm just going to drink a case of beer."
 
Josh:
Yeah.
 
Ryan:
God, I just thought of that. Sorry, I couldn't do that. Okay. This is really cool. So looking at the snacking portion of it, and really coming back and saying, "All right," like we just talked about, "Is this emotional, or is this really because I'm hungry?" You were going to say something.
 
Josh:
Oh. I just didn't want to forget. The other question that we get a ton is like, "Do I need to have something right after I work out? I work out first thing in the morning. Do I need to have something right before it?" That kind of stuff. And since we get that question a lot for… and this is one of those things where like it's population dependent.
 
Josh:
Most of the people that I work with aren't professional athletes. And that's the thing. If you're not working out twice a day, if you weren't training for some big event, then the research is pretty clear that what matters is your protein throughout the day and your total energy consumed throughout the day.
 
Josh:
If you're an endurance athlete, then sure, you might need to replenish before you work out. If you are a body builder, you might need to get protein like right after workout. But like 99% of our clients, if you need it over the course of a day, then you're still going to be able to build the strength you want to build, you're going to be able to build that muscle. You're going to be fine.
 
Ryan:
That's great to hear, too. Because I do know that, let's be honest, with the media out there and so many different things that we're seeing, it's like immediately after you got… well, for one, you've got to do your pre-workout. You got to get your pre-workout in. And then during your workout, you need this sip on your protein drink to make sure that you have the energy to get through. And then after you're done, you got to refuel and get that protein in and everything.
 
Ryan:
And so, yeah. And what I'm just saying here is that I know that for a lot of people, that can be just overwhelming. And so, just to have that freedom to say, "Okay, I'm going to be fine. If I just focus on my meals, and eat quality food, and get in quality protein, then I'm going to be fine. Probably don't need to drink a protein drink."
 
Ryan:
So this was the big thing with me as well. I actually do, because I'm so jacked and I have to keep my muscles huge. I'm joking, of course. But yeah, quality food, I think like you always say, I think is one of the most important things. So yeah. Thanks for bringing that up.
 
Josh:
Yeah. And like people should meet their protein requirement. Right?
 
Ryan:
Yeah.
 
Josh:
Like they should actually get enough protein. But it's one of those things we're like, if people are like, "Oh, if I have a little protein before I work out in the morning, I get nauseous," then don't. Right?
 
Ryan:
Yeah. For me, that's why I actually got this. I got into the intermittent fasting because of that, because I was doing handstands, and getting upside down with a full stomach just wasn't working.
 
Josh:
It wasn't cool.
 
Ryan:
Right. And so that's really why I got into it, and then just found that I actually did better that way, for me, personally. And speaking of this . . .
 
Fasting
 
Ryan:
Let's go ahead and get into this whole, the fasting stuff.
 
Josh:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
 
Ryan:
Like looking at-
 
Josh:
Super popular right now.
 
Ryan:
Right. So eating two times a day. I've explored so many different ways. Now, one way I actually like eating, and a lot of people are going to pooh-pooh this, because they're going to go, "What the hell?" Now remember, I'm a little bit different. I wouldn't say that I'm an athlete, but this is my job. I am doing a lot of stuff.
 
Josh:
You're kind of an athlete.
 
Ryan:
I'm kind of an athlete. I am doing a lot during the day. I actually do drink a protein drink, okay, but it's a vegan protein drink. But the thing is, is I actually like to eat not the 16/8, but I actually like fasting for almost 20 hours, and then I eat during a four-hour window. And a lot of people are like, "What the hell?" But for me it works out well. But let's talk a little bit about this whole stuff, mainly probably talking about 16-hour fast and 18-hour eating window.
 
Josh:
Usually. Yeah.
 
Ryan:
That's usually like the typical thing. So if you could talk a little bit about that, I'm excited to hear what you got to say about this. So yeah.
 
Josh:
Oh. Yeah, super popular right now. And it's popular because it absolutely does work for a portion of people. It totally works. I'm generally into less… like we're talking about the snacking stuff. Like generally, less frequent eating works better for maintaining weight and things like that. But the thing is, there's a lot of people that it doesn't work for.
 
Josh:
Really what we're coming down to is practicality. And so it very clearly works for you. And that's awesome. I've had clients that it very clearly works for, and also clients who really wanted it to work that it didn't.
 
Ryan:
Yeah. Yeah. Like anything, it's got to be good for you. Right?
 
Josh:
Yeah.
 
Ryan:
So just because I do something or someone else does something, it doesn't mean you should be doing it. So yeah. Exactly.
 
Josh:
Yeah. It's one of those things where, generally, what we're looking to do is we're looking to set up guidelines and teach people skills, where they can notice what is and isn't hunger. Generally, we want people to eat when they're hungry and stop when they're full, and we want them to understand the difference between hunger and stress. At the most basic level, that's what we're going for.
 
Josh:
And so, it can be helpful to have people eat when they're hungry, and for people that are hungry in the morning, to have them artificially skip that because they've got a rule, like 16/8, generally tends to backfire. The people that do well with 16/8 fasting or 24 fasting, tend to feel pretty good doing it, and it very clearly works. And the flip side is, there's a bunch of people where they're pushing through a lot of true hunger, and they tend to make worse choices and way over eat in that eight-hour window.
 
Ryan:
I could definitely see that. And again, I'm sorry to keep bringing it back to me, but I'm just using it as a reference point-
 
Josh:
Well, it works for you.
 
Ryan:
Right. And I'm actually like, it's not like I just woke up one day and I'm like, "I'm going to fast for 20 hours." The thing is though, that's just how it ends up being for me because I'm working all day and I've got my workouts and things that I'm doing during the day, and by that time I'm ready to put my food down. And I'm very lucky, and this too, that my wife is such a fabulous cook, and the food that we're eating is just so good and she gets it, and so she always knows, "Okay. This is how this weirdo is eating today."
 
Ryan:
But I'm not always on the 24. And so there are days where I might just be like, "Hey. You know what? I really am hungry right now. I want lunch." And I eat. So like just what you're saying, I'm not so set in my ways that if I don't do this, then I'm a bad person. You know what I mean? So it's always, like what you said, is trying to have that relationship with my body and awareness to know that I need something, and not just doing something because it's written on a piece of paper saying that I should be doing it a certain way.
 
Josh:
Well, and I'll also to be fair, you're probably not our average client. Right?
 
Ryan:
And that's the thing. And that's why I feel bad even bringing myself up with this, but just, well, let's be honest, it's GMB. But we got to let people understand that, again, just because I might do something, it doesn't mean it's good for you. And we need to really look at, again, bringing it always back to, what do you need? And that's why I love having you on here because you're able to say, "All right. This might not be something you need. Let's instead look at, for example, being better aware of your body, at least fasting four hours between your meals, taking a look at hunger, and having these skills to focus on to find what's right for you."
 
Josh:
Yeah. It just made me think of a conversation I had with Andy, where he was like, "Okay, someone wants to move really well, you could say like, ‘Oh yeah, I do martial arts for 20 years.'" And you're at a different place at that point, but instead that's not really an answer, where-
 
Ryan:
Yeah. Right.
 
Josh:
So we've got like Elements and Mobius, and these things to have people that have lives and like aren't essentially professional workout people, to build that really solid movement awareness. And that's what we're getting at here. Like the thing is, we've had plenty of conversations. I know how much time and reflection you've put into figuring out what works for you for your nutrition.
 
Ryan:
Right. And like anything, bringing it back to the movement again, I have been doing this for so long, and it's that reflection. And so really, that's what we're trying to say is, reflect on what you need, instead of just doing something because it's an arbitrary diet rule.
 
Josh:
Yeah.
 
Ryan:
Yeah, yeah.
 
Josh:
That's actually what it all comes back to. Right. There are people in the Eating Skills program right now that are playing with two meals a day, and there are people in the eating skills program right now that are playing with five meals a day. And the majority of people are doing like three to four meals a day. And that's like a perfect bell curve, and that's reality. Everyone in that game is paying attention, and everyone's seeing what works for them and everyone's treating it… everyone in that, whether it's three to four, or two, or five is treating it like an experiment, and they're learning about their own hunger and fullness cues. And I hope everyone listening does that.
 
Ryan:
Yes. Yes. That's great. And so as you've said before, like the average person, some people may be two meals, it could be three, it could be four or five, but really just depends on where you're at and what's going on. And generally, you're going to be fine in terms of protein, like you said before, where you probably don't need that protein shake.
 
Carbs

Ryan:
As well, quickly, because a lot of people probably want to know about this, carbohydrates. And I'm talking starchy carbs. I'm not talking about like just your leafy greens carbs, but really like rice. I just say rice all the time, because that's pretty much all we have over here.

Josh:
Pasta bread.

Ryan:
Right. Pasta bread. There's other stuff out there. Right.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ryan:
People ask about that. What advice do you give people regarding the carbs in terms of working out and things?

Josh:
So again, it's one of those things where for the average person that's working out like four times a week, then a portion of carbohydrates at a meal three or four times a day, a portion of protein at a meal three or four times a day, you're set. That's as much as we need to get into it.

Josh:
If someone's a really serious endurance athlete and they're doing long day, one day, like high intensity level training the next day, they might actually need to look at, "Do I need to replenish my glycogens before and after I work out?" Right?

Ryan:
Yeah. That totally makes sense. Yeah.

Josh:
And that's not most of us. Most of us, if you can get your needs met throughout the day, that's the deal. And you should get your needs met throughout the day. I don't want to throw that out there like it's nothing. You should actually get enough. And so if you aren't working out more than an hour a day, then you probably don't need more than a portion of carbohydrates per meal, probably. But again, like pay attention to your experience and see.

Ryan:
Sure.

Josh:
But then the flip side of that is most people who are working out are going to need to make sure that they get enough carbohydrates. You probably don't want to cut it out completely for most people.

Ryan:
It totally makes sense. Yeah. A key to a whole other thing. Maybe that could be a topic for another podcast, we could see.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ryan:
Wrap this up, really, I love what you had to say, like the majority of people, especially in the eating skills, generally what, three to four meals a day, and just being aware of the snacking of what's going on. Like you said, it's not that snacking is necessarily good or bad, it's just one of those things of, is it necessary for what's going on during the day? It's really interesting point that you brought up, that even people who did snack ate the same amount of food during their meals.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ryan:
Pretty interesting.

Josh:
It's usually just extra.

Ryan:
I've to remind my kids about that.

Josh:
Well, okay, kids are different.

Ryan:
Yeah, yeah.

Josh:
So I want to be super clear, because we actually have had people in the program that are like, "Oh, three times a day. I pass between meals." Young kids, especially, don't have big enough stomachs to get all the energy that they need in just like three meals. I want to get clear, don't make your toddlers fast between meals, because that's different.

Ryan:
Oh yeah. My kids, they eat the fridge every day. And so we just got to let them do their thing. But yeah, but in terms of grown ass people, what is it, plate your meals, make sure they're balanced, eat slow, look at your hunger, compared to just having an emotional response. What are some other things to wrap up here?

Josh:
It's one of the things that everything you said is something your grandparents might have told you to do. I mean, it's so practical, and yet no one's doing it.

Ryan:
Right. It's almost like this stuff has been known for many, many years.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ryan:
Weird how that works out. Right?

Josh:
"Have some vegetable." Like it doesn't sound super sexy, and yet the people that are doing it, it really, really works.

Ryan:
Yeah.

Josh:
It's super practical. It's super norm. Okay. That's sort of thing that a lot of people come to us asking for, they're like, "I want to eat normally. What does it look like to eat normally?" Actually like three meals a day, that are like vegetables, and they're like protein and carbohydrates, a little bit of fat like works really well. People should try doing it.

Josh:
And when people do it, they find out that it actually does work to regulate their food really naturally and really comfortably, and enduringly. This isn't something that people like snap and have to. It isn't like rigid diet rules where people can't keep doing it.

Ryan:
That's good.

Josh:
People can actually do that stuff.

Ryan:
So that could almost be your bonus tip, I guess, today, is like veggies, looking at carbs, protein, look at the fat. Yeah.

Josh:
So you're asking about, like starchy carbs, put on your plate. You're fine. You're set.

Ryan:
Yeah. Good to go.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ryan:
Good to go. Cool. Cool. Cool. We've covered a lot of stuff today. But again, it really just comes down to looking at what's good for you, which is always tough.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ryan:
That's why I really love the Eating Skills program that we have because it works with you and figure out exactly what you need, it's not just a matter of saying, "Here's one diet that you should follow." And some people might have two meals a day, like myself. Some other people might have upwards of five to six, which is great, which I think is really cool.

Bonus Tip
 
Josh: 
Oh. That's where I would put in as the bonus, bonus tip, would be that like, if you're going to make these kinds of decisions based on your own experience, that means you need to set aside some time to reflect. 
 
Ryan: 
Nice. 
 
Josh: 
Right? 
 
Ryan: 
Nice. That's really good. 
 
Josh: 
Five to ten minutes a week, look at like, "Oh, okay. I tried out two meals a day for the last two weeks. How did that go? Was I starving? Did I make good choices when I was in?" Or I tried out eat five meals a day. How did that go? "Oh. You know what? I think that worked." When you go through that process, you'll know. And the mistake that most people make is that they don't treat it like an experiment and they don't have some time to actually go back over their last week or two and see how it went. 
 
Ryan: 
Good. That's really good. That's really good. Thanks, man. I'm going to do that, too, because I just love that kind of stuff. 
 
Josh: 
Because you've never done that before. 
 
Ryan: 
I've never done it before. Thank you so much. 
 
Josh: 
I appreciate it. 
 
Ryan: 
Likewise, if any of you listening have questions, please, please join in on our Facebook podcast group, ask your question, and we will answer it the next time. Thanks for listening everybody. Bye-bye. 
 
Josh: 
Thanks everyone. 
 

Eating Frequency for the General Population
Emotional Eating
Fasting
Carbs
Bonus Tip