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Three Meals a Day, or is That a Nay?

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  • Three Meals a Day, or is That a Nay?

    I have been skeptical of the three-meals-a-day concept for almost a year now. I remember coming around an internet post from the warrior diet people arguing against the three meal a day principle and needless to say, I was intrigued. After much deliberation with myself, I decided to give up the concept of breakfast and lunch and just stick to dinner as the main meal. In other words, I have been partaking in a regular IF daily since last August.

    Maybe its through the power of consistency, but I have been more and more skeptical of the three-meal-a-day concept, and its popularity in both CW and nutritional science. This is where the proposed discussion comes in: Do you think that three-meals-a-day is an evolutionary sound behavior. In other words, did Grok sit down every morning to a nice breakfast, take a break during the day for a nice lunch, and then finished the day off with a nice dinner?

    I would tend to think nay. In the sense of human evolution, food was very scarce during the good old days. Grok did not have the luxury of a supermarket to pick up his breakfast foods. Rather, he and his comrades spent the day foraging through the land looking for a good kill. This is where the argument of the one meal a day comes in: Grok spent the day hunting, sprinting, and lifting heavy things on an empty stomach [no protein shakes either]. By the end of the day, the Grok squad would have mostly likely have brought back to the cave a large kill good for the entire tribe. They then engaged in a huge night-time feast. This was then repeated the next day.

    Now that even some scientists are finally acknowledging the benefits of fasting during the day, it comes as no surprise that these benefits manifest in their synchrony with human evolution. Another line of evidence that if one eats the way the ancestors ate, he or she would be happier and healthier.

    This argument, however, is completely a priori. I have not been to a tribe 50,000 years ago, and simply speculate what life was like. This argument could go both ways. For example, one may argue that the hunters ate once a day whereas those who stayed by the base and gathered veggies and berries may have grazed throughout the day. You could also say that those who gathered collected all the food into a collection bin, and did not eat it until the hunters came back.

    With this logic in mind, one could also make an argument for a sex difference in the way eating patters may be evolutionary sound. Hunters were [mostly] men whereas gatherers were [mostly] women and children. Could it be possible that the one meal a day pattern is better for men whereas multiple meals a day is more sound for women and children?

    The arguments could really go in many directions!

    I do think it is interesting that this three meal a day idea is so engrained in our society's belief [CW anyone?] that it is always assumed to be correct, even by science. The null hypothesis becomes that we need breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is, however, no scientific base for that. Smoking was once believed to be good for you too.

    What are your thoughts on this topic?
    --
    Here it is, your moment of zen.

    It's a no brainer: The journal of the cerebelum

  • #2
    And here I feel advanced just to be eating only three meals a day instead "5 or 6 mini meals."

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    • #3
      There could be some validity to the eat 1-2 times a day, but I can only speak of my own experience. I grew up with 2 lousy "meals" a day because we didn't have much money. Example - lunch was white bread and margarine. As I ventured out into the world, my cells were most likely malnourished, and my metabolism was most definitely messed up.

      Fast forward to when I could afford to feed myself, I ended up grazing and still had IBS and other health issues.

      Fast forward to the present and I am now able to eat 3 large meals a day without issue. My health has increased leaps and bounds, so has my energy.

      Now, I feel myself getting to the point of cutting back my 3rd meal to more of a snack because I am not as hungry on most evenings. I used to have to consume food late at night as I would wake up extremely hungry if I didn't. Much of this has to do with improved food quality, better macronutrient balance, and decreased requirement for exercise to burn off the excess carbohydrate loads.

      So, I may be moving towards a 2 meal and one snack habit that would probably be closer to the style that you suggest. I have also read a theory that the family would eat in the evening when the sun set, and then again in the morning before they began to move again in order to find more food for the next night. So maybe they had one large feast in the evening, then the "leftovers" in the morning, and went about their day hunting & gathering for the upcoming feast.

      I think the key is that if we were to eat less often, the nutritional intake must be of high quality and sufficient enough to sustain for longer hours of IF such as eating at 7 or 8pm, then 12-14 hours later.

      But like you mentioned, this is only speculation.

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      • #4
        would it have been an issue having food lying about a home/campsite overnight? In terms of attracting vermin or scavengers? I know the Natufians had quite sophisticated storage pots.

        I'd be interested to know how someone who has no metabolism/thyroid/blood sugar issues etc, who has been strictly primal for a long time, feels in the morning. I generally feel quite hungry when I wake up, but now my blood sugar has stabilized I can ignore it if I want. But I'd tend to think if Grok woke up hungry, he would have eaten. If there was any food left.

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        • #5
          Just eat when you're hungry, period.
          .`.><((((> .`.><((((>.`.><((((>.`.><(( ((>
          ><((((> .`.><((((>.`.><((((>.`.><(( ((>

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          • #6
            My appetite has naturally dwindled down to 2 meals a day. I am not hungry till about noon-1pm ish, and that's when I eat. Then I eat a late dinner.

            If I wake up hungry for some reason (had a really intense workout the night before etc.) I definitely eat. I agree with rphlslv, just listen to your body!
            The more I see the less I know for sure.
            -John Lennon

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            • #7
              I've noticed with IF (missing breakfast) I have got out of the habit of snacking. I think the body gets habituated to having food at certain times, and when we change those times it complains. I do get more hungry the day after a workout, so I think your level of activity affects things too. Having worked with young people, they seem to have no trouble gorging down food and then not bothering to eat for long periods of time, until we train them into the accepted 3-meal-a-day model. I'm not sure 3 meals a day it's how we would eat in the wild though.

              Difference between men and women? Well most differences relate to procreation, but I suppose the other main difference is greater muscle mass in men which might come down to eating more protein than women if the women were mainly gatherers. I would need a bit more convincing though. I'm not sure the digestive process is that different between men and women. It could be argued that the energy requirement to produce babies would balance out the energy requirement to produce muscles.
              My website: http://www.shoppinganywhere.net/

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              • #8
                It's known that whoever is involved a kill, gets a hot fresh meal of the organs before they start butchering (or, arguably, as the first step of butchering ). It also seems reasonable that Grok and Grokette would take advantage of edibles found or dug up as they moved around throughout the day, munching on nuts and berries as they pass by and grabbing a few in a pouch to share back at camp later. And of course, a majority of peoples spent much of their life near the water and there aren't really any "time of day" limitations to catching a fish or harvesting an oyster...

                My guess is that large meat meals were fairly rare (once a day), but that a lot of the plants were nibbled on throughout the day. A gender-bias towards men eating more meat/less often and women eating more plants throughout the day fits how we think about gender roles in many societies, but it would be interesting to see how the remaining Paleolithic cultures around the world do things. I tried to Google it but just got a lot of ads for "tribal adventure vacations" LOL. I will look again tonight when I'm off work

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                • #9
                  Eat PB foods, when hungry, to satisfaction (not stuffed). Wait until hungry. Eat again.

                  Following the above seems to naturally result in a lessened need for "3 square meals" based on my own experience and comments I've read here and elsewhere. Miss breakfast? No big deal. Not hungry at lunch? Don't eat. I regularly skip a meal and end up with a 8-10 hour IF during waking hours, or longer if I skip breakfast. Certainly no ill effects!

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                  • #10
                    Great posts!

                    It appears that the common theme revolving around the PB community is the notion that become one with the natural side of the human being facilitates in the aberration of the societal norms regarding necessary food intake.

                    The conventional wisdom teaches us that it is healthy that everyone gets three square meals a day. The scientific community has also embraced this ideology without any question. This ideology, however, is completely a priori, and most likely a product of the relatively recent industrialization in the modern world.

                    As some of you have stated, going PB has decreased your desires to not only snack, but eat less than 3 times a day. That makes perfect sense. I would guess (and I am by no means a biologist) that we feel more satiety, less hunger, and more pleasure from food because we don't bombard our palettes with processed, sugar-ladened foods that habituate us from what real food should be. We have lost track of our evolution - becoming more machine than animal.

                    Another caveat in modern nutritional sciences is a lack of research on human subjects, which itself is a product of the massive red tape set forth on researchers. I have firsthand experience at the Internal Review Board processes involved with designing experiments with humans, and that is just college student subjects with social psychological experiments. I know that any biological type studies would cause a lot more problems in the forms. However, I really doubt that there could be much valid generalization of dietary studies done on mice as they pertain to humans, which as been the majority of research.

                    As for any sex differences, that is also pure speculation. Sadly, it is impossible to travel back in time to see how Grok and Grokette lived. Even modern hunter-gatherer societies have drifted away from their ancestral past due to the minimal, yet salient influence of the Western world. The whole idea of PB is based on speculation due to evidence, as we could take our logic into many directions fairly successfully. I noticed that there have been recent posts on the need for vegetables in the PB lifestyle, with some people soundly arguing for vegetables whereas others soundly argue against. Both parties provide valid, evolutionary-congruent lines of evidence to justify their claim, yet they are opposing to one another. I never thought I would see the day where I would actually think about severely needing to limit my veggie intake! [Some are just way too delicious to part from large portions].

                    Nevertheless, as jo mentioned, the main discrepancies between males and females is in the area of reproduction. In fact, the definition of male vs. female is whomever produces the larger gamete. In the world of psychology (again my bias here, as I research sex differences in romantic attraction, dating, and mating patterns in humans), this difference in gametes produced means everything. Parental investment theory argues that because females have a significantly larger stake in reproduction from the start (larger gamete production, limited amount of gametes, long internal gestation period, necessary resources post birth, and birth itself to mane a few) make them much more selective in their dating partner whereas men are less picky and often times more prone to favor short-term mating strategies to quickly spread their genes.

                    Where does this come into play with diet? Well, because men are more competitive, they would also be more likely to be somewhat ostentatious, in the sense of who can bring home the best kill, who has the best physique which signals good genes, which then gets a good mate and spreads the genes. I'm a bit skeptical of using socialization as a 100% explanation of sex differences, as socialization is almost always grounded in evolution. In fact, societies are just different ways of manifesting evolved tendencies, based on the environment in which the society proliferated. Both men and women would enjoy to eat meat, but they may theoretically have different metabolic pathways in which the proteins are processed, again due to discrepancies in reproduction (and again this is pure speculation, this is why I love nice discussions!)

                    When we eat PB, we get back in touch with our evolution. We don't let hunger control our lives, because if Grok was controlled by hunger, he would not have gotten anything done. Rather than being controlled, he was motivated by it. It makes sense that a state of hunger should not weaken the animal, but rather get its attention and focus up so it can find food. In our modern sugar-ladened society, hunger controls the individual, and actually does the opposite of what it is intended to do: it slows one down; a product of multiple cycles of insulin booms and busts.

                    Hungry? Grab a snickers.
                    --
                    Here it is, your moment of zen.

                    It's a no brainer: The journal of the cerebelum

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                    • #11
                      The book "Born to Run" has a lot of fun anthropological speculation about why we are the way we are. We are tall, slender persistence hunters, upright so we could breathe more than once per stride and therefore always have the advantage over a four-legged animal who can only breathe once per stride, with achilles tendons so we can run (walking primates do not have them), we pant and sweat and are mostly hairless to get rid of the heat we would accumulate running on the savanna, chasing down antelope. Our males are only 15% bigger than females, whereas in many species the males are 30% bigger than females. Neanderthals were big bastards who sprinted and drove big game into blind canyons and clubbed the game - we are smaller, lighter, and we ran and ran, and tracked the particular animal from the herd that we chose, stopping to sip from streams, stopping to grab a grub from a tree, or to dig up a root. All we had to do was to keep the animal in sight on the horizon. We were in terrific shape back then, and the slow pace (maybe 10 minute miles) with frequent stops would keep our heart rates down below that 75% for much of the time we ran (I'm speculating here - but it would make sense given that long-distance running at high speed and high heart rate is so destructive and inflammatory). We ate light in the morning, because we had to run, and eventually the animal would overheat, and collapse, and we would descend upon it. Since it might take 20 or 40 or 60 miles to chase down the big game, the whole family group would run together. Fastest men first (young and old), women probably carrying their children, and the young walking children at a slower pace but keeping the men in view, tracking them, gathering along the way (including hunting and killing small game). This is how we lived for millions of years until we invented weapons. I love that book because it has such a wonderful description of who we are.

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                      • #12
                        All I know is I dont worry about 5-6 mini meals and grazing anymore, not scared of fasting BUT i enjoy food too much to generally have less than three eating sessions a day
                        www.beatingorthorexia.co.uk

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                        • #13
                          I also find that it seems like everyone else is *constantly* eating! And in comparison, time flies by until I'm peckish, look at the clock, and only then realise how late it is...
                          Not complaining, mind you!

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                          • #14
                            somedays i eat 3 meals, others i eat 2 meals. if i know i have an active day ahead then i have a shake (egg whites, almond butter, coconut milk, cinnamon & some xanthan gum to thicken)

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bisous View Post
                              The book "Born to Run" has a lot of fun anthropological speculation about why we are the way we are. We are tall, slender persistence hunters, upright so we could breathe more than once per stride and therefore always have the advantage over a four-legged animal who can only breathe once per stride, with achilles tendons so we can run (walking primates do not have them), we pant and sweat and are mostly hairless to get rid of the heat we would accumulate running on the savanna, chasing down antelope. Our males are only 15% bigger than females, whereas in many species the males are 30% bigger than females. Neanderthals were big bastards who sprinted and drove big game into blind canyons and clubbed the game - we are smaller, lighter, and we ran and ran, and tracked the particular animal from the herd that we chose, stopping to sip from streams, stopping to grab a grub from a tree, or to dig up a root. All we had to do was to keep the animal in sight on the horizon. We were in terrific shape back then, and the slow pace (maybe 10 minute miles) with frequent stops would keep our heart rates down below that 75% for much of the time we ran (I'm speculating here - but it would make sense given that long-distance running at high speed and high heart rate is so destructive and inflammatory). We ate light in the morning, because we had to run, and eventually the animal would overheat, and collapse, and we would descend upon it. Since it might take 20 or 40 or 60 miles to chase down the big game, the whole family group would run together. Fastest men first (young and old), women probably carrying their children, and the young walking children at a slower pace but keeping the men in view, tracking them, gathering along the way (including hunting and killing small game). This is how we lived for millions of years until we invented weapons. I love that book because it has such a wonderful description of who we are.
                              Interesting but since Caucasians, among others, are supposed to have 1-4% neanderthal DNA I wonder how this changes things.

                              Also I wonder if males are meant to be compartively bigger than 15% to females because I see a lot of overweight women and underweight men everywhere who could certainly skew any sampling. I wonder how much comparitive size difference there would be if we all ate primal from birth.
                              A steak a day keeps the doctor away

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