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  • IF vs. small meals: compare experiences!

    Curious as to why bodybuilders, fitness models, etc., are dead set on 5-6 small meals per day if intermittent fasting is really the way to go. Anyone have comparative experiences they wouldn't mind sharing? I go back and forth between what I want to do. I am impatient and seem to be having a hard time committing to either approach. It seems as soon as I determine that I am going to try one out, I read something that sways me in the other direction!

    What I'm working with: 18% body fat according to hydrostatic weighing, but I don't actually believe that to be true because I would be super happy to look like the bikini models sporting that percentage. I'm trying to shed another 1-2% in hopes of eliminating what I consider tree trunk thighs and letting my abs show through some. I've been primal for over a year and have seen some significant body changes that I attribute to both my diet and aerial silks training (a lot of pulling my own body weight around), but I've been stuck with this last 10lbs for some time now. I did do a month of very strict, including eliminating dairy. I didn't see any difference, so I have since added butter and cream in with cheese as a "maybe in an omelet during the weekend, but not as a main protein source."

    I really think the bottom line is that in order to achieve the look I want, I have to eat fewer calories (boo, I hate being hungry). I track what I eat pretty carefully, mostly because I like the ability to go back and see what I was eating at any given time. I get what I call "head hunger." I start to feel run down and like I need to eat, but my stomach isn't really growling. I also eat a lot when I feel stressed.

    I realize most people will say IF is the way to go, I just wonder why it hasn't been so widely adopted by fitness models.

  • #2
    If your main fuel is carbs, then small meals will feel better.

    Once you've been Primal for awhile, then you are mostly fat-burning and it is easier to IF.

    Both work. IF is my choice.

    Yes, you likely do need to reduce your calories to drop fat if your metabolism is working properly.

    IF is also a good way to deal with "head hunger". Decide on your eating window & stick to it!
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    • #3
      If you eat lots of carbs, as most Americans do, and you want to cut calories, 6-8 small meals will be about the only way you can do it--otherwise you'd be famished all day long. I have tried this. My doc said, "eat less fat and red meat and eat more whole grains and keep your calories under 1200 a day and you'll lose weight". Yes, that works very well! I lost 20lbs in a few months. I was so hungry all the time. I tried breaking it up into 6 small meals, basically living off of tuna, chicken breast, and every whole-grain, low-fat snack-bar they sell. I was mean, hungry, and when I fell off the wagon I'd stuffed myself like a christmas pig! I gained the 20lbs back plus 20 more. I figured, if that's what I need to do to be thin, I don't want to do it. Several years and many medical problems later, I stumbled across paleo and the Promal Blueprint. Now, I'm at a very healthy weight, eat big meals twice a day and ain't hungry at all.

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      • #4
        I don't think it's just a "carbs" thing. Fitness/bodybuilder menus are not super carb heavy. They often include oats and rice, but are by no means "typical high carb."

        As for dropping calories, I really think once you are at a certain level of leanness, that's easier said than done. At 5'3, 120lb, I don't get a lot of room for error. I'm already pretty confident with what I'm eating (carbs only from veggies and limited amounts of sweet potato/squash), it's just rather difficult for me to reduce how much I'm eating.

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        • #5
          Curious as to where you are getting that all bodybuilders are set on the 6 meal plan. The only body building forum I frequent is bodybuilding.com, but there it seems the general concensus is that meal timing/frequency doesn't matter.

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          • #6
            fitsyummy I've been having the same problem. I'm 5'1" and up to 129's now. I did a lot of IF.. 5 meals a week with at least 2 24HR fasts a week to get from 130 - 119. Then I got to 122 in a heart beat and I was still doign all that fasting!!.. Then I got married and in just 2 weeks sky rocked back to 131 (I did eat a lot I was primal at first but then added back white rice..and eventually more cheating for the rest of the honeymoon). I got back to 129...with a brief 2 day stint at 127 after a little fasting but been stuck for 2 months now. I really dont want to go back thru all that fasting again..as I did skip breakfast 3 times a week and it tends to just get me to want to eat more later on! I also think it was really messing with my leptin. So I'm going to try carb cycling the primal way. I'm starting next week. It'd be fun to do the experiment with someone else. I created this challenge on daily burn: Fitness Challenges - Carb Refeed Experiment - DailyBurn

            You can follow me on Daily Burn. I will be entering all my meals!

            This is my plan:
            Primal High Fat/Low carb everyday except Thursday
            Thursday will be Low Fat/High carb and will include my kickboxing workout. All carbs from glucous sources.
            I plan to skip breakfast on Mondays and possibly dinner on Wednesday's. I'm also going to keep sugar out except for a few berries on Tuesday (boot camp day).

            Thursday's meal will consist of:
            breakfast: 3 medium once over easy eggs with a skinless baked potato
            lunch: big ass salad (white meat chicken, argula, tomato, cucumber, broccoli) with watered down dressing and potato
            dinner: white fish with white rice, sauteed sweet onions, steamed broccoli and lemon juice & spices.. I'll use a little olive oil to cook the onions
            Last edited by activia; 10-28-2011, 02:55 PM.
            Primal since March 2011

            Female/29 years old/5' 1"/130ish lbs

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            • #7
              Multiple small meals with 70% carbs & very low fat & ~ 3 hrs a day boot camps & cardio (typical CW) made me lose weight super quick (30 lbs in 18 weeks), but left me on the brink of madness with hunger _ I could neither maintain 118 lbs (my pre-baby weight), nor go lower without adverse health effects (dizzy,weak). In only a few months of maintenace I was experiencing hunger hallucinations and binging on low fat/low cal yogurts at night. I would eat absolutely everything I packed with me in the office from 4 am to 10am, and then by 2 pm I was unfunctional. And that'son like 1,400 cals a day!

              Now, that I am used to IF, a 1200 cal day I am perfectly full & functional. I was stuck at 124-126 lbs since last January, but dropping now doing UD 2.0,hope to finally get to 14-15% BF range (on the Weight Watcher scale,probably more like 16-18% or whatever,as long as it looks good).

              You need to make a distnction between body builders and models. Body builders eat at surplus, not deficit for the most part. That's when they have to put in a lot of meals. When they cut, they act like models- which means they do not eat small meals,but actually do IF. It is normal for the models to skip a day or two of food (if not a week or two),and not eat every meal. They also use a vagon load of suppliments, hunger suppressants,etc,not to mention they are genetically gifted,and likely to be ampong the lucky minority who do not have hunger and carb cravings revved up by excersise.... Plus,if they are professional,they can be outside and sleep as much as they need to.
              Last edited by Leida; 10-28-2011, 03:11 PM.
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              • #8
                I'm going to try to IF by delaying breakfast since I tend to eat a lot in the evening. This morning, I was pretty hungry by 11am, and had eaten a snack around 8pm the previous night, so not a huge stretch, but a start.

                I don't know how everyone goes so low in calories. I got down to 110 last year by starving (and by that I mean 1000-1400 calories a day, yes, that's what I consider starving), but I was admittedly taking appetite suppressants and stopped menstruating reliably at that weight (even though I didn't really seem all that thin; I am petite). I'm not satisfied unless I have anywhere from 1600-2200 calories. Trying to go below 1600 is just really hard for me. But I have fat to lose, so it's a bit frustrating.

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                • #9
                  My bet is that the 18%BF figure is faulty in one of two ways:

                  1) The reading itself wasn't right (defaulting to a male BF distribution, perhaps?), and you're actually somewhere in the mid-20% range, or
                  2) you may be at 18% but without sufficient muscularity to make it look like those bikini models you referenced.

                  As to the meals question, the popular belief is that more feedings means more time in digestive state, thus more calorie expenditure. There's also the misguided belief that going into "starvation mode" is a horror of horrors and you should keep your body fueled constantly. Fact is, eating like that overworks your digestion and the "starvation mode" stuff is bunk - the body doesn't hit that for many more hours.
                  Are you a college student, trying to navigate college while being Primal? Do you know any other PB college students on a tight budget? Heck, for that matter, are YOU trying to live Primal on a budget? Enroll at Primal University!

                  For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either.
                  -- Blaise Pascal

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                  • #10
                    The small meals thing worked for me initially years ago, but led to packing on a few pounds here and there over the years as my diet got sloppier, yet I always felt hungry. I also would swear I was having a "low blood sugar moment" if I didn't eat every few hours! Complete myth...

                    Since switching to IF 11 weeks ago (16 x 8) and going high protein, high fat and lower carb on non-workout days, I eat far fewer calories now (going as low as 1,300 some days @ 5'6" 138#) but feel much more satiated! If you can get through the initial 1-2 weeks (and the occasional feeling of "cold hands"!), it's so worth it.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Velocity View Post
                      My bet is that the 18%BF figure is faulty in one of two ways:

                      1) The reading itself wasn't right (defaulting to a male BF distribution, perhaps?), and you're actually somewhere in the mid-20% range, or
                      2) you may be at 18% but without sufficient muscularity to make it look like those bikini models you referenced.
                      Interesting assertions based on....what, exactly?

                      Blurry, but you get the point. I'm doubting I'm in the mid-20% range and while I'm not super muscular, I've got some to work with.
                      Attached Files
                      Last edited by fatisyummy; 11-01-2011, 06:37 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ray-NJ View Post
                        The small meals thing worked for me initially years ago, but led to packing on a few pounds here and there over the years as my diet got sloppier, yet I always felt hungry. I also would swear I was having a "low blood sugar moment" if I didn't eat every few hours! Complete myth...

                        Since switching to IF 11 weeks ago (16 x 8) and going high protein, high fat and lower carb on non-workout days, I eat far fewer calories now (going as low as 1,300 some days @ 5'6" 138#) but feel much more satiated! If you can get through the initial 1-2 weeks (and the occasional feeling of "cold hands"!), it's so worth it.
                        Thank you, this is helpful!

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                        • #13
                          IF here...

                          I'm down in University until 3-5PM, running mainly on coffee and/or kratom. I have meal 1 when I get back and meal 2 (higher carb) at about 8PM. Works for me. I just find it easier not running around grabbing stuff to eat during the productive hours.

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                          • #14
                            I have the same problem! If I eat <1600 calories (even with 65% of my calories from fat and only 7% from carbs) I am hungry. Skipping breakfast was the easiest fast but even then by 10am I can think of nothing but food. I did try dropping to <1000 calories 3 days a week(by skipping a meal and keeping the other two meals small) and 1200-1500 calories the other days and not only was I hungry, and cranky but I lost maybe .5lb SOME weeks. I also did weekly 24hr fasts (my coworkers were not happy when I did this).. Which is how I eventually got down to 119lbs (even at 119lbs I still have a small inner tube and large thighs). I was walking 30 min every day in addition to boot camp once a week, kickboxing once a week, and lifting once a week. I kept adding more fasts if I wasnt losing and it just became a losing battle eventually. I can never understand people that say they can eat 1200 calories and not be hungry. I only wish.... Part of my problem is I have a desk job.. my second problem is I LOVE food... if I am out and about I notice hunger a lot less but I've always been able to eat a lot for my size! My body seems very stubborn! I just wasn't willing to do that amount of fasting the second time around. I skipped a 3 breakfasts a week, and 2 dinners and still failed to lose any more weight. This was hard enough, I'd go to bed early when I skipped dinner as I didnt want to struggle with the hunger. At least with primal fasting it was easier then with CW... I never felt weak and I never woke in the middle of the night dying for some food, but primal eating has not been the key to losing weight for me. Ironically whenever I eat after a fast I feel tired..I actually have more energy whilst starving! (which was not the case on CW!) Which actually makes sense when you think of it. While starving Grok would need the energy to get food.. when full and satisfied its best to let the food digest and relax in the lavish meal. I also was not eating nuts and I did try without dairy for some time. Now I just have some raw milk cheddar cheese with my omelete and some full fat greek yogurt. Only fruit I eat is berries, and have gone without for periods of time as well.

                            Anyway I wish you luck! Im curious to see how you are doing. I am hoping carb refeeding works for me. I'm back to tracking every bite I eat as well. Week 1 starts Monday! I just hope one day I can get rid of this stomach fat! My waist has almost no fat... seemed to lose it there and in my butt and face first.
                            Primal since March 2011

                            Female/29 years old/5' 1"/130ish lbs

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by activia View Post
                              I have the same problem!
                              My gosh, it sounds like you and I could be long lost twins! Everything you just posted I can relate to!

                              Though I will say that eating this way has definitely helped with my body changing composition. I look completely different at this weight than I did 2 years ago.

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