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Is having regular meals important?

Commented on December 13, 2013
Created December 10, 2013 at 2:26 PM

I've just got into Paleo dieting recently. I'm re-evaluating some stuff. One thing I'm constantly told to do is to eat regular meals and that's very important. I've tended not to do so for many years. I'm not particularly overweight or anything. I don't really have any health problems.

The fact that some people believe in intermittant fasting I guess makes me think that maybe regular meals aren't as important as people think. When I mean having irregular meals, I'm talking about maybe eating once a day, or maybe skipping breakfast and eating a late lunch and a late dinner and just not having typical lunch (around 12/1pm) and dinner (6/7pm) timings.

What do you all think?

Medium avatar

(624)

on December 13, 2013
at 05:15 PM

This is one I still struggle with. I'm often just not hungry during my lunch break. At first this really, sincerely upset me deep down because I wanted to enjoy my lunch. I've learned though that I can take that time to go for a jog, surf the web, or just do something else. I always have nuts and chocolate in my desk in case I do get hungry before I go home. I usually eat a heavy breakfast and light dinner.

Medium avatar

(624)

on December 13, 2013
at 05:05 PM

If you're not trying to lose weight or achieve anything dramatic other than health and longevity, eat when you're hungry and skip it if you're not. When you're eating right, the snacking urge all but disappears and your body will only ask for what it needs.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on December 13, 2013
at 04:28 PM

It's called Intermittent Fasting. :) Google it, it's awesome. But, don't do both VLC (very low carb) with IF, that will get anyone in thyroid trouble.

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10 Answers

0
73405829e4cd62de86d52ef5c557dc42

on December 13, 2013
at 04:41 PM

eat when you are hungry. don't force yourself to eat if you are not just because society or your job tells you to eat lunch at 12pm

Medium avatar

(624)

on December 13, 2013
at 05:15 PM

This is one I still struggle with. I'm often just not hungry during my lunch break. At first this really, sincerely upset me deep down because I wanted to enjoy my lunch. I've learned though that I can take that time to go for a jog, surf the web, or just do something else. I always have nuts and chocolate in my desk in case I do get hungry before I go home. I usually eat a heavy breakfast and light dinner.

0
8c64078c1aa9a61308a530fa28e8cd8a

on December 13, 2013
at 04:37 PM

Yes, if you are an insulin-dependent diabetic.

No, if you are completely healthy. Eat when you're hungry and plan your meals in order to feel as best as you can with your meal plan.

0
5b8a557866d139fd5cb810f0f12e99a5

on December 13, 2013
at 01:32 AM

Brian, thanks for all your help! Really appreciate it.

0
Aa7b35f88b3accd816c7f8f12bb61d64

on December 11, 2013
at 04:40 AM

This isn't the article I was looking for but it has a nice list of some of the possible benefits of intermittent fasting:

http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/06/benefits-of-intermittent-fasting.html

Sounds to me like you are feeling good whatever you are doing. I wouldn't change anything.

In terms of gastric juices... this is a new one to me. If it was a more scientific argument I could hit pubmed for you and see what I could find.

The metaphor that gets used a lot is the one where you think of your metabolism as a fire. Don't put enough wood on the fire, it dies out, put too much on it at once time and you smother it. put a little bit on the fire at regular intervals and you have a great fire... only problem is I haven't seen any evidence for this and metabolism if far more complex than this metaphor allows for. Food isn't just energy in = energy out like a fire. Amount the many, many things food does it impacts a whole heap of different hormones. This seems to be the key to starting to understand our metabolisms.

One of the things I like about paleo is the theory that if we eat as close to what/how humans have evolved eating for the vast majority of our time on earth we will be healthy. Take any animal in its natural habitat, eating it's own natural diet and listening to it's own hunger singals and it's always a great physical expression of it's genes (assuming they don't have issues with famines, disease or other external factors). Here in Australia if you see a fat kangaroo or dingo I garantee you it's being feed by humans (or got into their garbage bins). out in nature they are all have great body composition.

I'm sure human cultures all over the world and throughout history have eaten different diets, in different ways. This helps explain some of the differences between individuals... Some do great on low carb, others seem to need more. Some are fine on dairy, others...

I find it hard to see how any pre-industrial culture would have eaten five or six meals per day. Meat requires hunting and needs to be eaten relatively quickly to prevent it going bad. Fruit and veg last a little longer. Nuts and seeds longer still. It's possible that they ate several small meals, but it just doesn't seem likely to me. I think they would have eaten once or twice a day when hungry. you really have to be dedicated to preparing meals to eat 5-6 meals per day. Imagine how much harder that would be if you had to find/hunt for each meal?

Add all these benefits that are being discovered around IF. This makes sense if people have historically had time of feast but also times of fasting. How would these benefits have come about if people were constantly eating small frequent meals?

0
5b8a557866d139fd5cb810f0f12e99a5

on December 11, 2013
at 03:58 AM

Thanks Brian, I don't think I have any health problems. I did have my gall bladder removed but I don't think that's an issue. I'm not really "proposing" this - it's more like this is a lifestyle that I live and I"m wondering if it's unhealthy. I don't do this on purpose. You mentioned there are several health benefits. What are they? You mentioned calorie restriction - how may this be a health benefit? WHat others are there? I guess you also believe there is at least a disadvantage - one will have less energy level? Anything else?

I still haven't got an answer regarding the "gastric" thing. That's the most common response to me so I'm curious. Also, sometimes when I don't eat, I hear my stomach groaning and making noises and even perhaps some liquid sounds. I'm wondering if that is the "gastric" thing and if that's bad.

Thanks for your responses!

0
Aa7b35f88b3accd816c7f8f12bb61d64

on December 11, 2013
at 02:29 AM

This depends but unless you have any health issues that complicate things it shouldn't make a difference.

What you are proposing is deliberate, irregular, intermittent fasting. These is a lot to suggest this actually has several health benefits. If you do this too often though you start to move into calorie restriction which will most likely have an impact on your energy levels.

Might not be a great idea if you have very high every requirement as well.

0
5b8a557866d139fd5cb810f0f12e99a5

on December 11, 2013
at 02:07 AM

Thanks, what if sometimes I do feel hungry but purposely don't eat. Would that be unhealthy?

Also, could someone respond about the "gastric" thing. Thanks!

Medium avatar

(624)

on December 13, 2013
at 05:05 PM

If you're not trying to lose weight or achieve anything dramatic other than health and longevity, eat when you're hungry and skip it if you're not. When you're eating right, the snacking urge all but disappears and your body will only ask for what it needs.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on December 13, 2013
at 04:28 PM

It's called Intermittent Fasting. :) Google it, it's awesome. But, don't do both VLC (very low carb) with IF, that will get anyone in thyroid trouble.

0
Aa7b35f88b3accd816c7f8f12bb61d64

on December 11, 2013
at 01:59 AM

If you fix your eating then you can usually start to trust your hunger to let you know when to eat. When eating paleo and getting plenty of fat/protein I don't get as hungry as often as I used to. I usually skip breakfast as a result (the most important meal of the day my arse) and just have a big lunch and dinner. A lot of people do this deliberately to have a shorter eating window but I just find it's easier and more convenient. If I'm being more active than normal I can get hungry before lunch or before dinner. If that happens I just have a boiled egg, or some roast sweet potato that I keep in the fridge, or a piece of cheese (I seem to be fine with dairy) or something similar. This doesn't happen too often though.

So my little n=1 experiment tells me regular meals aren't important. This makes sense to me from an evolutionary perspective too as I'm sure for most of human existence we haven't gone hunting/gathering three times plus per day. We have the senses of hunger and satiety for a reason it turns out. Who'd have thought?

That said everyone is slightly different. You might need more meals that others. Particularly if you crossfit 10 times per week. Experiment. If you aren't eating regularly, you aren't hungry, your energy levels are great and everything else seems good then why change what isn't broken?

0
5b8a557866d139fd5cb810f0f12e99a5

on December 11, 2013
at 01:41 AM

Thanks. I'm not talking about regular fasting, but irregular meals throughout your life - that kind of thing. Is that unhealthy?

How about gastric juices or whatever - people keep tellign me if I don't eat, I'll have something to do with gastric. Thanks.

0
86c97b2779feab3c330f5e1c5fea7e25

(2312)

on December 10, 2013
at 05:23 PM

That is exactly what is promoted in the Paleo world. Fasting can be healthy (tends to be more so for men than women). Regular meals are promoted by the food industry to keep you constantly buying food/snacks.

If you feel good without breakfast then definitely go with that. Just be careful to get enough calories (especially if you are highly active).

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