Meal Timing: Is it important?

Each month, we will be hosting a group coaching session within our Facebook Group and posting the notes here for your reference. We’d love for you to come and check out the group!

This month we are chatting about meal timing.

A lot of people get hung up on meal timing – whether they are trying to improve their health, body comp OR performance. This is even more evident with the recent popularity of intermittent fasting and time restricted feeding.

·      I know I often have clients asking what time they should eat, including when they should start & stop etc. What I tend to ask people in return is – when do you WANT and NEED to eat.

·      The specifics of meal timing is not actually important for most people – even for those who are very active. Getting more specific is important in certain scenarios – say for an athlete training twice/d who needs to recover quickly, or for someone training for >2 hours at a time, or perhaps for someone who has trained fasted. It might also be important for a child attending school who say needs to eat breakfast before to ensure concentration/energy levels – because their day is dictated by the school routine – or for an adult in a similar situation.

·      But for most of us – we can choose to every couple of hours – or have a few big meals.  We can skip breakfast – or we can eat it. We can get a post-workout snack in straight away, or recover with a cooked meal at home within an hour or two. It’s really about looking at what makes you feel your best.

·      Even if there was an ideal ‘time schedule to eat by’ that we could prescribe – that would involve completely ignoring your individual lifestyle, preferences and importantly – your appetite! Eating to your appetite is one of the most valuable food & nutrition-related skills you can learn. We actually have an in-built mechanism to help us work out when we should eat – which is pretty amazing!

·      Getting caught up in nutrient timing can cause us to get lost in the details, and lose sight of getting enough sleep, eating enough vegetables or from a sports perspective – just getting enough protein/carbs to fuel and recover in general. In fact if you’re getting the basics right (including enough calories and nutrients), the timing likely has little further impact – even for elite athletes.

·      As long as we eat the right foods in the right amounts, meal timing and frequency is probably a matter of personal preference. Much more important is – what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, HOW you’re eating (fast VS slow, watching TV VS at the able etc. – aka are you paying attention), WHY you’re eating (e.g. hunger VS stress) and being consistent. If you get all these right and want to go further.. THEN you can think about tweaking when you’re eating.