Do you ever wonder how soon should you eat before exercising? Or what are the rules of eating after working out? How long should you space your meals? Do I eat 3 large meals a day or 5 smaller meals throughout the day? Is snacking ok? And the list of questions will continue. I often have the conversation of meal timings with both my yoga students and my nutrition clients because meal timings is crucial for maintaining health and preventing disease. If you have blood sugar issues such as diabetes, or have cancer or autoimmune condition, thyroid, or any other health issue, you want to ensure that you space your meals out accordingly. Meal timings can even affect whether or not you lose weight and how much energy you have during the day.
First of all, begin your day with hot water with lemon and then I would recommend having your breakfast within the first hour of waking up. The hot water with lemon will kick start your metabolism and digestion and the breakfast will feed your metabolism. Believe it or not, but if you miss breakfast, your metabolism slows down. Be sure to get protein and carbohydrates for your breakfast so that your blood sugars stay stable. Porridge with nuts, seeds, and fruit is one of the best breakfasts to have. Eggs with wholemeal toast, or yogurt with fresh fruit and granola are also some healthy alternatives.
If you have a nice breakfast, that is filling, then chances are that you will be fine until its time for lunch. Lunch is another meal that is very important to have. Lunch should be within about 4-5 hours of having breakfast. If lunch is more than 5 hours away from breakfast, be sure to have a small mid-morning snack. And then for most people, lunch and dinner are at least 6 hours apart if not more, so be sure to include a mid-afternoon snack. (Click here for some healthy snack options because biscuits and crisps are a no-no).
So, how late should your last meal be? How much gap should you allow for food to digest before going to bed? Dinner is best eaten by about 7pm, because it is ideal to allow 3 hours for your food to digest before you go to bed. But if you are exercising after work or working late, and let’s say you don’t get home till 8, then I would encourage a lighter dinner. I would even consider having your supper as early as 5 and then eating a light snack, such as some muesli with almond milk, or fruit with some nuts about 1.5 hours before bed. You could even have a glass of warm almond milk before bed that is mixed with mixed nuts, turmeric, nutmeg, and cinnamon, which, according to Ayurveda, is considered to be a bedtime drink.
In terms of exercising, it is best to have a snack high in carbs, such as fruit or fresh juice about 1 hour before working out. After working out, you can have a homemade protein shake or a meal that is high in protein, which will help with building muscle and repairing any tissue damage that may have occurred during your workout. But whatever you eat or drink should not make you feel bloated or give you indigestion. If after having your protein shake, you are feeling bloated or really heavy, then that protein shake isn’t the right one for you. Its time to consider new options. And do let me know if you would like recommendations for healthier protein shakes.
Whether you have 3 large meals or 5 smaller meals throughout the day depends on each individual and your own portion sizes. The general rule of thumb is to eat every 4-5 hours but without picking on any food. If you are feeling peckish within less than 2 hours of eating a meal, then your meal wasn’t balanced nutritionally and you are facing “false hunger.” False hunger is another topic for another time, but sometimes, when you feel peckish, all you need to do is have some water first. And remember, always eat until you are full and no stuffed.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment below, email me, or give me a call.
And remember, food should always give you more energy, if it doesn’t, then we need to reassess the foods that you are eating.
Health and happiness,