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  • Precision Nutrition - meal frequency- your opinion?

    I know many individuals in the fitness community that follow the "Presicion Nutrition" concept. This seems, from what I understand, emphaysize whole foods and limited carbs (which is good) but also stresses to eat every 2-3 hours. The argument is that is should boost your metabolism. For the followers it seems to work as many of them are super lean. This is exactly the contrary what Primal Blueprint preaches (which I generally agree with). I wish to learn about your opinion of it, if/why the idea of frequent meals boosting the metabolism is flawed and why it works for some people. I clearly couldn`t imagine to eat that often for it interfers with life, I am just curious why this concept is so popular and leads to results...
    Thank you!

  • #2
    I am just curious why this concept is so popular and leads to results...
    What sort of results? Gut exhaustion? Terrible blood sugar control? There are all sorts of ideas out there that are popular - fat is bad, veg oil is good, soy milk is healthy, veganism isn't a cult etc etc.

    I find the easiest way to think about this sort of complificationerizing is to take a Paleo stance - what are we adapted for? In my mind, most likely is periods of little or no food followed by large meals. I believe 'eat when hungry enough to eat a meal' works nicely for a lot of folks. If not, don't eat at all.
    My primal journal
    You might find these handy: Free gluten free restaurant cards in 50+ languages
    In Praise of the Primal Lifestyle

    Comment


    • #3
      The thing about "it gets results" is - you don't actually have any idea if THAT is the reason they "are getting results" or if it's something else they are doing. Since a lot of people do the exact opposite thing (eat only once or twice per day) and also "get results", you have to wonder don't you.

      The idea behind frequent eating, as I understand it, is: your guts, when busy digesting stuff, burn a lot of calories. So, putting small quantities of stuff in it constantly forces your gut to work a ton. The idea behind infrequent eating is that you blood sugar will be low for most of the day / night, allowing you to burn fat more easily, and giving your gut a rest is generally a healthy idea. I have to say, I was fat when eating frequently and I'm less fat while eating less frequently, plus I'm less hungry and more in control.
      If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/ and this (personal fave): http://www.archevore.com/get-started/

      Comment


      • #4
        I personally wouldn`t be happy as well with eating 5 times + a day. I think you are never really satisfied but not really hungry also...However, I am still amazed that a lot of super-lean folks swear that it does help best....

        Comment


        • #5
          im 7.8% body fat. i eat primal every three hours. whats the problem? oh and 1 year ago i was 37% body fat! by the way!

          i went primal in feb 2010
          200lbs
          37% body fat
          38-40 waist

          1 year to the day
          140lbs
          7.8% body fat
          29 waist

          currently
          137lbs
          7% body fat
          29 waist

          Comment


          • #6
            A long time ago I read “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” by Tom Venuto and he emphasized the eating every 2-3 hours.

            He posed this analogy which I’m recounting from memory so bear with me: Imagine your metabolism as a blind man (or woman…) who does not know when he will be fed. If you DON’T eat constantly, the blind man freaks out and hangs on to everything for fear that it will starve (starvation mode…) but if you DO feed it frequently he will come to learn that this is the usual feeding schedule and will NOT hang on to fat stores/etc because it trusts that you are going to be eating in predictable intervals not exceeding 4 hours.

            Back when I read that it made perfect sense (it does have a nice tone to it, don’t you think?) but I also knew nothing about how the body worked internally and I don’t think Venuto did either as I don’t recall ever reading about what happens when you actually ingest the food. He was going off the old “furnace” theory that the more frequently you eat the more your body metabolism speeds up, etc.

            I gave his method a shot but it was too annoying, besides his nutritional advice wasn’t the best, whole grains, etc. I think he’s revised it since but I think still holds on to the eating every few hours deal.

            Then on the other hand you have IF proponents which are growing by the day. Most notably in my opinion is Martin of Leangains who looks great yet fasts 16 hours daily. Also Johnny of Lean Saloon who also fasts 16-20hrs daily and looks very good. Obviously fasting for them is not leading to fat storage because starvation mode doesn’t come into play until many days after not ingesting food, and even so, many water-fasters that do it for weeks on end still lose weight despite starvation mode kicking in. Not saying it’s healthy or ideal, but the assumption that going without food for 4 hours results in chronic weight gain is dumb… to the informed, but easily sold to the misinformed.

            Further, some people that “prescribe” eating every 2-3 hours have different goals in mind. Medhi of Stronglifts for instance recommends it, but his program is all about adding weight to every workout. I’d go so far as to say that an integral part of doing his program IS to put on weight as muscle so that you can tackle the ever increasing load.

            I think if you’re looking to gain weight there’s nothing inherently wrong with eating so frequently if it’s something that doesn’t drive you nuts. I’d absolutely abandon my 2 meals a day deal (which by the way I thoroughly enjoy) if my aim was to put on weight (muscle mostly of course) I wouldn’t eat all the time but I’d probably make a conscious effort to at least eat three times a day and probably would snack on primal stuff and gauge my progress, tone it down if I was gaining too much fat, etc.

            So, phew, in conclusion: To lose body fat it is not at all necessary to eat so frequently, it can in fact backfire by keeping your insulin levels frequently high.
            I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

            Comment


            • #7
              you used several differnt people and examples in your statement. that would go to say, everybodys body is different. i lost weight by eating three or four times per day. i started shredding fat when i moved to eating every three hours. its moderation. i eat at 3am, 6am, 8am, 10am, LUNCH, 3pm, 5pm and at bedtime. all day i consume a total of 1800 calories, 57 grams of fat, 78 grams of carbs and 141 grams of protein. im not gaining a pound. recently i screwed up and added some sprouted grains into my day and i gained 2lbs. i have no idea if it was muscle or fat but it was 2lbs so i stopped and im back on primal and im back down 2lbs EVEN! by the digit! i am 100% primal!
              Last edited by jaysond; 05-24-2011, 10:26 AM.

              i went primal in feb 2010
              200lbs
              37% body fat
              38-40 waist

              1 year to the day
              140lbs
              7.8% body fat
              29 waist

              currently
              137lbs
              7% body fat
              29 waist

              Comment


              • #8
                Martin Berkhan has an excellent article on meal frequency. It's really more of an index linking to various other articles he's written examining studies on meal frequency. Basically, most people find their overall satiety to be greater on fewer meals, and blood sugar is also significantly better on fewer, infrequent meals.

                The whole idea of eating frequently to boost metabolism comes from the thermic effect of food (TEF); basically, digestion takes energy. So the idea is to keep your body constantly digesting food to reap an increase in metabolism. The fallacy of the thinking is that TEF is directly proportional to the amount of food eaten. So, spreading the same calories over 6 meals produces the same (long-term) TEF as 2-3 meals, with the disadvantage that you feel hungrier and your blood sugar spends a longer amount of time in a post-prandial (non-fasting) state.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think people should not worry about it so much and do what works best for them.

                  You can find people that will argue all day that IF fixes everything, then google those things and find others saying that calorie restriction, regardless of meal frequency, has the same benefits.

                  Grazing smaller amounts during the day works for me, but I don't claim that everyone should do it. I keep total food intake low and I'm not hungry in the evenings so I skip dinner and just snack a bit.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thank you everyone, that was insightful! I am still figuring out what works best for me...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DFH View Post
                      I think people should not worry about it so much and do what works best for them.

                      You can find people that will argue all day that IF fixes everything, then google those things and find others saying that calorie restriction, regardless of meal frequency, has the same benefits.

                      Grazing smaller amounts during the day works for me, but I don't claim that everyone should do it. I keep total food intake low and I'm not hungry in the evenings so I skip dinner and just snack a bit.
                      JESUS SPEAKS, amen. this is why you are a senior member! this is so true and lets add that just because someone eats only twice per day and "looks good" -Martin of Leangains and Johnny of Lean Saloon- does not mean they are "good" how does anyone know whats going on inside them. i saw a very fit girl faint in the gym. when asked when she ate last she said "last night" funny thats the only time she went that long without eating and the only time she fainted. just to be clear im not suggesting someone eat 500 calories every 2-3hrs. eat large 2-3 times per day and small in between. we talk about paleo and primal all day here so lets not get confused. in the paleo primal days we ate when we were hungry. eat when your hungry dont follow what anyone else says. just figure out if your thirsty or hungry and how much it will take. when i eat every two-three hours its complete meals and handfuls of stuff. your body is an engine, the engine of life. feed it when its hungry and feed it right! primal!
                      Last edited by jaysond; 05-24-2011, 11:15 AM.

                      i went primal in feb 2010
                      200lbs
                      37% body fat
                      38-40 waist

                      1 year to the day
                      140lbs
                      7.8% body fat
                      29 waist

                      currently
                      137lbs
                      7% body fat
                      29 waist

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        First of all, I have to say that Precision Nutrition is one of my favorite sources for information. I think these guys are brilliant, have a wonderful company that helps a lot of people, and in general, express great passion for helping people. So I encourage you not to make a huge deal out of one thing that you don't like about them. I also think that they're dogma of small meals being better for physique, health, and performance isn't necessarily a very good one though.

                        When I became fascinated with healthy eating and lifting weights, I also came familiar with this "eating every 2-3 hours" concept immediately. I started to believe it and also taught my body to eat that way. I ate 6 meals a day back then. Now that I've learned more, it seems to me that the evidence shows that there is pretty much no difference between eating 3 vs 6 meals a day. I recently changed my meal frequency to 4 and so far seem to be fine with this.

                        My life has been relatively anti-social for some time; I don't go out a lot and I get to be at home most of my time each day. (It's not that I don't enjoy talking to people, I just have a minimalistic lifestyle.) Taking this to consideration, it's very simple for me to eat frequently throughout the day. I imagine that it would suck to cook and carry food for someone who is very social and travels a lot. The second disadvantage to eating more frequently is that it means you'll think about food moreoften. "Is it time for my next meal? Oh, it's in 30 minutes. Is it now time for my next meal?" I think this type of thinking can be unhealthy and maybe even lead to some disorder or overeating. My third point against eating moreoften is that indeed you're never really hungry and thus the enjoyment of food is reduced. Let's say that a woman tries to lose fat and eats about 1,200-1,500 calories a day. If she ate 5 meals, it would mean 240-300 calories per meal. How much food is that? Not much. You can make a much nicer recipe/meal with 500 calories.

                        I'm not necessarily against more frequent eating, but I think it's not good to recommend it like a cool trick as a lot of fitness/nutrition experts do. The evidence really doesn't support it in my opinion.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Risto View Post
                          I think it's not good to recommend it like a cool trick as a lot of fitness/nutrition experts do. The evidence really doesn't support it in my opinion.
                          boom. hit the nail on the head. this supports eat when you are hungry and eat good!

                          i went primal in feb 2010
                          200lbs
                          37% body fat
                          38-40 waist

                          1 year to the day
                          140lbs
                          7.8% body fat
                          29 waist

                          currently
                          137lbs
                          7% body fat
                          29 waist

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            @Jayson, are you a competitive athlete? When do you go to sleep? I only ask because I know of nobody that eats at 3am that isn’t doing it for some specific purpose.

                            This also need not turn into an IF thread at all.

                            I wasn’t trying to make the point that eating less often is what all should do, but that if you’re eating frequently because you think this helps boost your metabolism, or to lose weight that idea is wrong you can still eat frequently if you truly enjoy that, it’s not inherently wrong, but the premise behind it is. If you’re eating primal, there’s no “wrong” way to do it as far as frequency is concerned. All I’m saying is if one is doing it because they think it makes their metabolism faster or something, then that person is misinformed. It doesn’t make them dumb, or stupid, or anything of the sort, it simply means they do not know enough about how metabolism works. I was once there so it’s not like I was born with knowledge or anything like that.

                            In my personal experience, I couldn’t do it, or rather it wasn’t a fun thing to do. It wasn’t hard necessarily, but remembering to eat got really tedious, because I just wasn’t all that hungry but I believed that I had to eat… or else! I’m glad that didn’t last very long.

                            Think of this though, if you eat a meal with some carbs, insulin will spike so any fat mobilization will cease, if you keep eating insulin never goes down so you NEVER get that chance at fat oxidation. This is especially important for people that eat SAD, because chances are they’ll be eating more carbs than primals.

                            You can absolutely manipulate body composition (ie: lose/gain weight) in like a bazillion different ways, so it’s never a matter of “only THIS works” but as far as I’m concerned it’s more a matter of “what is more efficient?” and also “what do I enjoy doing?” if it was a proven fact that eating every 2-3 hours was the most efficient way to lose body fat (to pick one angle of body comp) I probably would try a little harder to do so, but may ultimately just eat 2-3 meals a day and say “screw it, I guess I’ll have to exercise more often to make up for my lack of frequent eating” it just so happens that it is not the case, so I’m happy to only eat twice a day, in a matter that is comfortable for me, fits into my lifestyle, gets me all the nutrition and energy I need to do what I like to do and doesn’t require me to cook and pack food. I pack one thing for work, then I eat again when I get home, this works for me.

                            (I’ve said this before, but I don’t stick religiously to a fasting/feeding schedule, if my coworkers wanted to knock back a few beers and eat at 11 am – its happened – I’ll absolutely join them. To me, fasting isn’t a religion, it’s something I utilize to my advantage only when it doesn’t interfere with my life)
                            I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Honestly, I'm starting to re-think the whole "fewer meals" deal. Over the last couple of years it seems to have NOT worked for me, and I'm toying with eating smaller amounts more frequently. A few "snacks" through the day as my body wants to eat, and a reasonable dinner.

                              Really, I don't think it matters a ton whether you eat a lot at once or a little at frequent intervals. I can count a number of times I've wandered through the woods and grabbed an apple here, a handful of berries there. Had I been interested, a few crawfish out of the creek or some bugs would have been a tasty treat too. I can totally see our ancestors doing that in the process of seeking out a turkey or a rabbit.

                              These days I'm really starting to wonder if all the dogma all over the forum (and in other Paleo/Primal circles too) isn't becoming its own CW.

                              Comment

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