Three Squares? Why Higher Meal Frequency (5+) Is Better.

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has reportedly lost 10+ pounds for the upcoming season — by eating NINE times a day.

News coverage also highlights a surprising daily calorie total (for anyone, let alone a guy losing weight): 4,800.

But Wilson is a young and large man (relative to non-NFL types) with a naturally-high metabolic rate. And, he’s extremely active with training camp starting in a few weeks.

So to me, the big story isn’t the calorie total. It’s the philosophy of eating more, smaller meals throughout the day. Nine is extreme, but eating 5-6 times a day isn’t so much. I recommend it for us 40+ guys trying to lose or manage weight, and fuel our bodies’ performance potential.

Here’s why.

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Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has reportedly lost 10+ pounds for the upcoming season — by eating NINE times a day. You can see details of his regimen here.

News coverage also highlights a surprising daily calorie total (for anyone, let alone a guy losing weight): 4,800.

But Wilson is a young and large man (relative to non-NFL types) with a naturally-high metabolic rate. And, he’s extremely active with training camp starting in a few weeks.

So to me, the big story isn’t the calorie total. It’s the philosophy of eating more, smaller meals throughout the day. Nine is extreme, but eating 5-6 times a day isn’t so much. I recommend it for us 40+ guys trying to lose or manage weight, and fuel our bodies’ performance potential.

Here’s why.

WHY HIGHER MEAL FREQUENCY IS BETTER

There are certainly different views on this topic. Based on personal experience and reading a lot about others, though, I favor eating 5-6 times in a typical day.

Note, I work out 5-6 times a week and I’m generally active every day. So I burn a lot of calories. Depending on your activity level, move to this “eat often” mode slowly. And be sure your “snacks” are both healthy and not very big. For a clearer sense of your calorie needs, check out the math of how “base” metabolic rate declines with age, but the “adjusted” rate rises with increased activity level.

Here’s why I think it’s good to eat “often but more lightly on each occasion.”

1. Helps your eating psychology.  If you’re going to eat X calories per day, there’s no mathematical difference between three meals averaging 1/3 X calories, or five eating averaging 1/5 X. But eating more often feels like you’re eating more. If you like eating, and look forward to it, then you have more times per day to eat, and more to look forward to.

My wife likes to joke, but it’s true: I’m constantly looking forward to my next meal (and I consider that a good thing).

2. Trains your stomach.  Eating less on a greater number of occasions conditions your stomach to not expect to be stuffed. This helps reinforce sensibility on portions you eat, without that “pang” sensation driving us to eat too-large quantities.

3. Helps with workout performance.  Eating more often helps you be better prepared to workout (i.e, having some carbs and protein in your body), without a workout-dictated calorie intake.

Example:  Say I have a “traditional” lunch within a 3-meal day.  By the time of a 6 pm workout, I haven’t eaten for five hours. I either need to take in some pre-workout supplementation or settle for a sub-optimal, less-well-fueled workout. Conversely, if I have a smaller lunch, and then (from a calorie perspective) “the second half of lunch” at 3:30 or 4 pm, I don’t need any extra fuel intake for my 6 pm workout.

4. Diversifies your diet.  Eating more often helps you achieve the benefits of a diverse diet, because you can eat more types of things in a typical day. By analogy, think of this like diversifying a stock portfolio into five or six investments, rather than having more money invested in each of just three stocks.

TAKE ACTION

Eating more often but lightly can be challenging from a time/logistics perspective, especially if you’re traveling. But if you get in the habit of having a quality energy bar, and maybe an apple, in your briefcase or backpack…you can usually spread out your eating successfully.

Like everything else here, man, this ain’t all-or-nothing.  Try doing this when you can, and if you need to be in “three squares a day” mode sometimes, then do.

For a more-comprehensive view on diet, check out these OlderBeast articles: general “diet” overview, smart carbs, and things to know about protein

 

“You used to laugh about, everybody that was hanging out. Now you don’t talk so loud. Now you don’t seem so proud, about having to be scrounging your next meal.” (Bob Dylan, Like a Rolling Stone — click to listen)

 

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