Two Meals a Day Is Ideal, But Which Two Is Up to You
How many meals a day is ideal? There are many answers to this question, but if you want to optimize your lifespan and decrease your risk for developing chronic degenerative diseases, the answer is becoming very clear.
The longstanding conventional answer is that most people need three square meals a day with snacks in between to maintain stable blood sugar and insulin levels.
However, there’s compelling evidence suggesting this near-continuous grazing may be partially to blame for the obesity and diabetes epidemic.
The most obvious risk with spreading out your meals to morning, noon, and evening is overeating. Other less obvious risks are biological changes that result in metabolic dysfunction, subsequent weight gain, and diminished health.
Our ancestors did not have access to food 24/7, and from a historical perspective it appears your body was designed for intermittent periods of fasting. In fact, a number of beneficial effects take place when you go for periods of time without eating.
The Case Against Eating Multiple Meals a Day
According to Dr. Valter Longo,1 director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, where he studies meal timing and calorie restriction, even three meals a day may be too much.
Based on his research, he’s convinced the fewer meals you eat, the better you’ll fare overall. As reported by Time Magazine:2
“Longo says studies that support a grazing approach tend to be flawed in predictable ways. They often look only at the short-term effects of increasing meal frequency.
While your appetite, metabolism, and blood sugar might at first improve, your system will grow accustomed to your new eating schedule after a month or two. When that happens, your body will start expecting and craving food all day long instead of only around midday or dinnertime.”
For the last couple of years, I’ve suggested limiting meals to a narrow window of six to eight hours — ideally by skipping breakfast, and having lunch be your first meal.
However, we’re all different, and some people really struggle without breakfast. More recently, I have refined my views on skipping breakfast.
Eat Breakfast or Dinner, but Not Both…
While I’m still convinced that intermittent fasting is an important strategy for effective weight loss and disease prevention, it likely doesn’t matter which meal you skip — breakfast or dinner — as long as you skip one of them.
If you have a physically taxing job, you are likely better off eating a solid breakfast and lunch, and then skipping dinner. The key to remember is to only eat within a window of six to eight consecutive hours each day, and avoiding food for at least three hours before bedtime.
As long as you restrict your eating to this window, you can choose between having breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner, but avoid having both breakfast and dinner.
If you chose to eat dinner, it’s important to avoid eating for at least three hours before going to bed.
I have recently appreciated that this is another important factor that can help optimize your mitochondrial function and prevent cellular damage from occurring, which I’ll review in the next segment.
That said, none of this probably applies to normal weight teens or growing children. They likely need three square meals a day unless they’re overweight. For kids and teens, the type of food they eat would be a primary consideration.
Ideally, all of their meals would revolve around eating REAL FOOD — not processed foods, fast food, and sugary snacks. Drinking plenty of pure water and avoiding sugary beverages is another key consideration.
Health and Wellness Associates