1

votes

Same amount of food - does it matter if I eat all at once, or spread it out over the morning?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 12, 2013 at 4:07 PM

What differences, or advantages/disadvantages, are there to spreading out one meal/snack out over a period of time versus eating it all at once?

I work a desk job and I also have a really low appetite. I generally eat a pretty big dinner after I'm off work and have had a chance to unwind a bit from the day. I don't like to fast from 6am wakeup to 7-7:30pm dinner (I get a little TOO HYPER and I lose all appetite whatsoever), so I have been eating a "brunch/snack" on most days. I call it a toddler brunch because it is mostly finger food that I eat at my desk. Usually some combination of sliced meat (ham or turkey), some fruit with almond butter or FF Greek yogurt, sliced veggies and a vinaigrette or some tzatziki, hard boiled egg, that sort of thing. Generally around 500kcal or so. I eat this at my desk as I work from about 8:30am-11:30am or so. I find that I can eat a bit more this way, being distracted by work.

Are there any disadvantages to eating this small meal/snack over a period of several hours, rather than scarfing it down in 10 minutes? Any advantages I haven't seen? Any reason I should try to eat it more quickly and as a traditional meal instead of "snacking" my meal?

(FYI about me - healthy 28 year old female, lightly active, 5'6" 140lbs, mostly indifferent about weight but would step up activity before changing diet if/when I care, low appetite, eats pretty loosely Primal, usually under 1100kcal per day and under 50g carbs, cause that's just how it works out.)

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:47 PM

Oh, finally, on-topic and a somewhat reasonable answer.

1f9b52f29960095986234231d91e1967

(529)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:43 PM

Ah, salt might also promote appetite, though low physical (stressing) activity seems to be the most likely culprit re: low appetite. (And most likely to affect appetite and health overall even if not a root cause). Walking alone is not likely to be terribly stressful activty unless the body is quite weak or unhealthy, though it almost certainly benefits overall health in other ways.

229faa9f9cb551cbf9d1d766b84cf8f5

(112)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:38 PM

It's a nearly impossible question. There have been no studies on this issue to date. Everyone's body will react differently to these habits, what is stopping you from trying both yourself and seeing how you feel? One could assume that to eat continuously will result in a consistent taxing of your digestive system, consistent high insulin response and other metabolically sub-optimal effects.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:33 PM

I asked about the differences, if any, between eating a meal over the course of a few hours and eating it in the course of a few minutes. You've yet to answer that. When I start asking for FEEDBACK and EXPERIENCE (not medical advice) from my fellow PHers, I'll ask that instead of asking this and hoping for an off-topic reply like yours.

229faa9f9cb551cbf9d1d766b84cf8f5

(112)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:30 PM

You asked for specific recommendations. To do so would be foolish, dangerous, and illegal, as no one on here can offer medical advice. Chronically low appetite is a pathological condition that can and should be treated, depending on the cause. To recommend anything other than to seek treatment is, again, foolish and dangerous.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:25 PM

Yeah, you're still making assumptions and STILL not addressing my question. (And yeah, I know 1100kcal is lower than recommended, which is why I state my low appetite is a PROBLEM that I'm trying to work on.) Recommend all you want, I was not looking for general recommendations, and it still does not answer the question I actually asked. Thanks for either having sucky reading comprehension or being pretentious enough to tell me what I should be asking or be concerned about, since you clearly know more about what I am doing and considering than I do.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on August 12, 2013
at 06:24 PM

@Varelse...some people have better appetite control one way, and some the other. Could mean your ancestors were more likely gatherers, whereas mine more like hunters.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:21 PM

If you come across that article about snacking increasing appetite, I'd like to see it. And yeah, I think when I get more active again I will find it easier to increase my food intake (cause it will be necessary!) I do generally walk about 1.5-2 miles, 45 minutes or so during my lunch breaks most weekdays, depending on weather.

229faa9f9cb551cbf9d1d766b84cf8f5

(112)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:19 PM

You could always try the 10 minute scarf-down or the drawn out eating to see how you feel doing it. Neither one has been shown to cause any pathology.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:18 PM

Thanks, dear! Yeah, I wasn't sure about the extended eating as far as metabolism or blood glucose (never having been diabetic/pre-diabetic or anything, I'm not as familiar as a lot of people around here with those issues!) The dental decay part is true - if you eat your meal quickly, you get the food down the hatch (say in 30mins) and then your saliva washes your mouth and teeth until your next meal (say 4 hours). But if you snack, you are exposing your teeth to the acids/sugars/etc for a longer period of time and not having as much of a rest period between for saliva to clean out the mouth.

229faa9f9cb551cbf9d1d766b84cf8f5

(112)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:14 PM

Based on the description of your normal diet, considering the normal consumption of meats, nut butters, full fat yogurts, oils, hard boiled eggs, with interspersed fruits and vegetables, including the values provided (1100kcal, which is much lower than daily recommended guidelines accept in weight loss), and sub 50g of carbs/day, I was able to infer that you are eating a high fat low carb diet, which leads back to my original recommendations to consider lowering fat intake, increasing carbohydrate intake and seeing a healthcare provider if your appetite does not improve.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:10 PM

I didn't say it proved anything.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:09 PM

"you are eating an incredibly high fat and low carb diet" Really? I am? Have you watched me eat or checked my intermittent Cronometer numbers? Can you work out the percentage of 50g carbs out of only 1100kcal becuase that's really not extremely low-carb. But thank you for STILL not even attempting to answer my question and for making silly assumptions. I have never -1'd someone on my own question, because I generally value all feedback even if it isn't 100% relevant or on-target, but YOU, sir, are going to be the first.

229faa9f9cb551cbf9d1d766b84cf8f5

(112)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:04 PM

MathGirl, anecdotal evidence is not "evidence." It is incredibly small scale, uncontrolled, and nearly impossibly to measure any variability. No statistician in the world uses anecdotal evidence to prove anything. If it were the case, homeopathy would be an accepted treatment for disease.

229faa9f9cb551cbf9d1d766b84cf8f5

(112)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:01 PM

If your appetite is chronically low it could indicate an underlying pathology for which you should probably seek treatment. In general, you are eating an incredibly high fat and low carb diet which may explain the low appetite due to fat's slow rate of digestion. Eating sub 50 grams of carbs per day is not recommended for general healthy eating, and only in particular cases such as in the treatment of reactive hypoglycemia. Appetite issues may also be caused by mental factors, excluding all physical pathology, which would lead one to recommend therapy or some other form of discussion

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:00 PM

Why the ass-hat response? Even anecdotal evidence is evidence and can be helpful. If there is some piece of evidence the OP hasn't read about timing of food intake, someone can point her in that direction. You seem to be the one making baseless claims!

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 05:54 PM

... because if I did just do what feels good and not encourage myself to eat more, I seriously wouldn't eat enough at all and since I'm already barely getting to 1100kcal most days, I would say that's a significant problem that maybe I should use my BRAIN to think about and develop solutions for, instead of just being all hippy-dippy about it.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 05:52 PM

I was going to leave it at the above, thinking you just did not read my post properly, before seeing some of your other answers and I see it is a trend for you, so I'll expound. Additionally, the whole "smaller meals through the day" is not what I said. I said eating one meal for an extended period of time, not several meals in a smaller window. I also did not ask what was "optimum" I asked for specific feedback on my specific case as outlined. Lastly, as a person who says they have "appetite problems" that should be a red flag that maybe that person shouldn't just do what feels good...

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 05:42 PM

Um, this is the way I've been eating and it does work fine (within the confines of my appetite problem). I don't intend on changing it to something that makes me feel terrible. However, this extended eating it may have effects that I am not aware of, such as a different influences on blood glucose. Just because I'm looking to get feedback from the community where I have gotten ( and given) helpful feedback in the past does not mean that I'm an idiot doesn't listen to my own body foremost. It just means I'm interested in the science behind it.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 04:20 PM

Yeah, I recognize that my terribly low appetite is a problem - which is one reason I do the exact thing people who are trying to lose weight shouldn't do, which is "mindlessly eat." But that doesn't really answer my question about whether it makes a significant difference eating it over the course of a few hours versus a regular 10 minute scarf-down.

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5 Answers

2
618fc5298c4a96b817c4918c795a875f

(1217)

on August 13, 2013
at 01:18 AM

I can't eat alot of food rapidly - it takes me about an hour to comfortably eat a meal. If I eat a large volume of food quickly, I get what is referred to as "dumping syndrome", where I get nauseated, shake, get dizzy, and usually throw up or ... something else. I know this isn't a great way to be, but this is how I am, and I've learned how to work with it. My metabolic challenges have improved by eating small meals, more frequently, over a long period of time. And about the teeth- I have no cavities (weird for a 48 yr old). I really doubt this would work for everyone, mostly because it is BORING! For me, however, it works - and my activity level is probably equal to yours on most days. I hope my anecdotal evidence helps you in some way!

2
1f9b52f29960095986234231d91e1967

on August 12, 2013
at 06:06 PM

As an (unscientific) answer -- constant snacking (though over the course of an entire day) has been claimed by some to be overtaxing to the metabolism or parasympathetic system. Secondhand CW research also sometimes claims that eating more frequently may cause either more wear on enamel or more dental decay (unsure why, exactly, the latter would be the case).

But, I have not looked deeply into or corroborated these, so they are merely potential directions / problems to perhaps look into.

I also recall that, scientifically (not fully certain) and anecdotally (across a sample size of 5-30), eating any particular meal/snack more slowly seems to increase appetite, and potentially absorption of nutrients.

(Regarding low appetite, some bursts of moderate-to-intense activity or a slightly longer period [10-20 min] of a moderate activity such as walking with weights every 1-2 days would likely stimulate appetite, as physical activity/stresses seems to regulate low appetite.)

[Edited.]

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:21 PM

If you come across that article about snacking increasing appetite, I'd like to see it. And yeah, I think when I get more active again I will find it easier to increase my food intake (cause it will be necessary!) I do generally walk about 1.5-2 miles, 45 minutes or so during my lunch breaks most weekdays, depending on weather.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:18 PM

Thanks, dear! Yeah, I wasn't sure about the extended eating as far as metabolism or blood glucose (never having been diabetic/pre-diabetic or anything, I'm not as familiar as a lot of people around here with those issues!) The dental decay part is true - if you eat your meal quickly, you get the food down the hatch (say in 30mins) and then your saliva washes your mouth and teeth until your next meal (say 4 hours). But if you snack, you are exposing your teeth to the acids/sugars/etc for a longer period of time and not having as much of a rest period between for saliva to clean out the mouth.

1f9b52f29960095986234231d91e1967

(529)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:43 PM

Ah, salt might also promote appetite, though low physical (stressing) activity seems to be the most likely culprit re: low appetite. (And most likely to affect appetite and health overall even if not a root cause). Walking alone is not likely to be terribly stressful activty unless the body is quite weak or unhealthy, though it almost certainly benefits overall health in other ways.

1
C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on August 12, 2013
at 04:17 PM

If you are only eating 1100 kcal per day on average then your metabolism has adjusted to starvation mode to sustain yourself.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 04:20 PM

Yeah, I recognize that my terribly low appetite is a problem - which is one reason I do the exact thing people who are trying to lose weight shouldn't do, which is "mindlessly eat." But that doesn't really answer my question about whether it makes a significant difference eating it over the course of a few hours versus a regular 10 minute scarf-down.

229faa9f9cb551cbf9d1d766b84cf8f5

(112)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:19 PM

You could always try the 10 minute scarf-down or the drawn out eating to see how you feel doing it. Neither one has been shown to cause any pathology.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on August 12, 2013
at 06:24 PM

@Varelse...some people have better appetite control one way, and some the other. Could mean your ancestors were more likely gatherers, whereas mine more like hunters.

0
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on August 13, 2013
at 01:47 AM

Many traditional societies organized their food so most of it would be eaten in the morning or at lunch. Dinner is a small affair, and that promotes good metabolism and good sleep. It is difficult to do this in the US, but I have shifted more and more to light dinners, specially after I spent 8 months in Brazil, where light dinners are the norm. I found it good on my system.

-1
229faa9f9cb551cbf9d1d766b84cf8f5

on August 12, 2013
at 04:41 PM

Consider eating in a way in which you feel good. If you feel good eating smaller meals throughout the day, you can conclude that that it may be a beneficial way of eating. Random internet strangers making base-less claims about optimum eating habits should be ignored.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:10 PM

I didn't say it proved anything.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:25 PM

Yeah, you're still making assumptions and STILL not addressing my question. (And yeah, I know 1100kcal is lower than recommended, which is why I state my low appetite is a PROBLEM that I'm trying to work on.) Recommend all you want, I was not looking for general recommendations, and it still does not answer the question I actually asked. Thanks for either having sucky reading comprehension or being pretentious enough to tell me what I should be asking or be concerned about, since you clearly know more about what I am doing and considering than I do.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 05:52 PM

I was going to leave it at the above, thinking you just did not read my post properly, before seeing some of your other answers and I see it is a trend for you, so I'll expound. Additionally, the whole "smaller meals through the day" is not what I said. I said eating one meal for an extended period of time, not several meals in a smaller window. I also did not ask what was "optimum" I asked for specific feedback on my specific case as outlined. Lastly, as a person who says they have "appetite problems" that should be a red flag that maybe that person shouldn't just do what feels good...

229faa9f9cb551cbf9d1d766b84cf8f5

(112)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:01 PM

If your appetite is chronically low it could indicate an underlying pathology for which you should probably seek treatment. In general, you are eating an incredibly high fat and low carb diet which may explain the low appetite due to fat's slow rate of digestion. Eating sub 50 grams of carbs per day is not recommended for general healthy eating, and only in particular cases such as in the treatment of reactive hypoglycemia. Appetite issues may also be caused by mental factors, excluding all physical pathology, which would lead one to recommend therapy or some other form of discussion

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:47 PM

Oh, finally, on-topic and a somewhat reasonable answer.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:09 PM

"you are eating an incredibly high fat and low carb diet" Really? I am? Have you watched me eat or checked my intermittent Cronometer numbers? Can you work out the percentage of 50g carbs out of only 1100kcal becuase that's really not extremely low-carb. But thank you for STILL not even attempting to answer my question and for making silly assumptions. I have never -1'd someone on my own question, because I generally value all feedback even if it isn't 100% relevant or on-target, but YOU, sir, are going to be the first.

229faa9f9cb551cbf9d1d766b84cf8f5

(112)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:14 PM

Based on the description of your normal diet, considering the normal consumption of meats, nut butters, full fat yogurts, oils, hard boiled eggs, with interspersed fruits and vegetables, including the values provided (1100kcal, which is much lower than daily recommended guidelines accept in weight loss), and sub 50g of carbs/day, I was able to infer that you are eating a high fat low carb diet, which leads back to my original recommendations to consider lowering fat intake, increasing carbohydrate intake and seeing a healthcare provider if your appetite does not improve.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 05:42 PM

Um, this is the way I've been eating and it does work fine (within the confines of my appetite problem). I don't intend on changing it to something that makes me feel terrible. However, this extended eating it may have effects that I am not aware of, such as a different influences on blood glucose. Just because I'm looking to get feedback from the community where I have gotten ( and given) helpful feedback in the past does not mean that I'm an idiot doesn't listen to my own body foremost. It just means I'm interested in the science behind it.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:33 PM

I asked about the differences, if any, between eating a meal over the course of a few hours and eating it in the course of a few minutes. You've yet to answer that. When I start asking for FEEDBACK and EXPERIENCE (not medical advice) from my fellow PHers, I'll ask that instead of asking this and hoping for an off-topic reply like yours.

229faa9f9cb551cbf9d1d766b84cf8f5

(112)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:04 PM

MathGirl, anecdotal evidence is not "evidence." It is incredibly small scale, uncontrolled, and nearly impossibly to measure any variability. No statistician in the world uses anecdotal evidence to prove anything. If it were the case, homeopathy would be an accepted treatment for disease.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:00 PM

Why the ass-hat response? Even anecdotal evidence is evidence and can be helpful. If there is some piece of evidence the OP hasn't read about timing of food intake, someone can point her in that direction. You seem to be the one making baseless claims!

229faa9f9cb551cbf9d1d766b84cf8f5

(112)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:30 PM

You asked for specific recommendations. To do so would be foolish, dangerous, and illegal, as no one on here can offer medical advice. Chronically low appetite is a pathological condition that can and should be treated, depending on the cause. To recommend anything other than to seek treatment is, again, foolish and dangerous.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on August 12, 2013
at 05:54 PM

... because if I did just do what feels good and not encourage myself to eat more, I seriously wouldn't eat enough at all and since I'm already barely getting to 1100kcal most days, I would say that's a significant problem that maybe I should use my BRAIN to think about and develop solutions for, instead of just being all hippy-dippy about it.

229faa9f9cb551cbf9d1d766b84cf8f5

(112)

on August 12, 2013
at 06:38 PM

It's a nearly impossible question. There have been no studies on this issue to date. Everyone's body will react differently to these habits, what is stopping you from trying both yourself and seeing how you feel? One could assume that to eat continuously will result in a consistent taxing of your digestive system, consistent high insulin response and other metabolically sub-optimal effects.

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