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Flexible Meal Timing is Essential to Your Success

Posted by James on Sep 11th, 2008 and filed under Lifestyle. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry


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The proper timing of your meals is essential to the success of eating every three hours. There are a limited number of waking hours in the day, so planning when your meals will be eaten is necessary to accounting for all five or six of them.

Life is full of unexpected surprises and the dreaded Mr. Murphy will mess up your schedule on occasion. With our kind of diet, these unexpected events can easily occur. So as tacky as it sounds, we must expect the unexpected. So today I will discuss how there is room for flexibility with our meal times.

The Perfect Schedule

Let’s say you have a perfect schedule planned for eating. Men eating six meals might consider times such as 6am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, and 9pm. Women might consider the same schedule minus the 9pm feeding.

Do you really think that you’ll be able to eat at those exact times every day? If you do you’ll only end up disappointed. When looking at the times it becomes easy to see where things can go wrong throughout the day.

The Gap Between Meals

The time between meals is used moving the food of our previous meal from the stomach to small intestine. So we can’t eat our meals too close together or we’ll be giving ourselves more calories than we need at that given time.

Numbers vary on how long it takes for food to move out of the stomach, but it largely depends on what you are eating. From my experience and that of others on this diet, it is largely assumed that natural and unprocessed foods are easy for your body to process. This will leave your stomach empty in about 2.5 hours. This coincides with around the time you will start to feel very hungry for your next meal, especially if you are on an overall calorie deficit.

Eat a Meal Early

If your boss schedules a last minute meeting right at your next scheduled feeding, then eat your next meal 15 to 30 minutes early. Shrinking the time after the previous meal to 2.5 hours will not hurt anything as your body will most likely welcome the new calories.

The downside to eating a meal early is that you now have a longer stretch to wait for the following meal. If you eat your 12pm meal at 11:30, you have an extra half an hour to wait for your 3pm feeding.

Eat a Meal Late

So your last minute meeting at 12pm has you wondering about your next meal, but preparing for that meeting prevents you from eating a little early. Your only option is to eat after the meeting.

This option really sucks if you are in the “eat every three hour groove”. You’ll feel like you are starving, probably notice a headache, and people in your immediate vicinity will take cover at your sudden mood swings.

Eating late will happen, either because you forgot or some other uncontrollable event. The best thing to do is eat your meal immediately as the opportunity presents itself.

Don’t Skip a Meal!

What if the last minute 12pm meeting lasts until 2 o’clock? Should I just wait another hour and eat at my next scheduled time of 3pm? My standard answer is no. Go ahead and eat your missed meal at 2pm. Your body will need and appreciate the calories.

After eating at 2pm, it becomes easy for you to justify eating your next meal at 6pm, since it’s only four hours away. When doing this you are shorting yourself hundreds of calories for the day. Do whatever it takes to not skip a meal. In this case consider doing the following:

Shorten the Gaps Between Meals Until You Are Back on Schedule

So you ate the 12pm meal at 2pm. Don’t stress too much, you can still get all of your meals and calories for the day. You just need to shorten the gaps between meals until your schedule is sorted out.

For example, after eating at 2pm, the remaining three meals can be scheduled for 4:30pm, 7pm, and 9:30pm (women would not do 9:30). You keep the minimum 2.5 hour gap between meals and still get all of your calories in for the day.

Of course, this method does not work well when one of the later meals gets missed; which usually is not a problem since the vast majority of people have fewer unexpected events in the evening that would prevent them from eating a scheduled meal.

Stuff Happens

There will be times when a meal will be missed and there is nothing you can do to get all of your meals consumed on that day. Being a few hundred calories short on a single day is not going to hurt much in the grand scheme of things. Just get back on schedule the next day and move on with your life.

If you find that missing meals happens several times a week, you may want to take a close look at your life and decide what the true reasons are for missing that meal. Is it really out of your control or are you getting a little lazy?

Do you have a meal schedule you would like to share? How about ideas for eating around life’s curve balls?

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