Meal timings can sound a bit daunting; something you have to tackle head on and concentrate ALL day on. These are just some of the thoughts that went through my head:
- Too complicated
- Can’t they just eat whenever?
- No clients would stick to it
- People have too much other stuff going on
So, I’m going to break down the basics in this sheet, meal by meal, snack by snack…
Your body’s calorie levels are at its’ lowest, as you’ve spent 6-8 hours (if you’re sleeping right) without consuming anything…
So, you need calories to replace your energy levels and to stop your body going into a catabolic state – which is a fancy word for holding onto every calorie you put into your body instead of burning it!
Key Components For A Great Breakfast
- Carbs – Used to replenish your glycogen stores (energy levels) so things such as Wholemeal bread – Sourdough & Oats are perfect as they are things called complex carbohydrates (they slow release energy throughout your next 3-4 hours) and make you feel more awake!
- Protein – Either in the form of eggs, or from a protein shake (although not essential) to give your muscles a protein kick which helps to feed worn out muscles and fills up your reserves for the day. You’ll use protein throughout the day, so you need to get it in early.
Poached eggs on wholemeal toast
Porridge with milk, 1 scoop of protein powder and blueberries
Energy levels may be needed for a busier afternoon and an evening rushing around doing other non-work-related chores etc., so again, DON’T avoid carbs… make them your friends
Personally, I like to try and make lunch my biggest meal of the day as I’ve got more time to burn off the excess food that way.
Key Components – Lunch Time
- Carbs – Go with something like wholemeal rice, pasta or sweet potatoes as these again are very complex carbs and will not only make you feel full, but you won’t get the yawning tiredness from lack of energy.
- Fats – Foods like cottage cheese are a great source of fat. You’re looking for good fats here, as we DO need these in our diet… but not too much remember! ½ a cup is more than enough… even as a dessert with fruit!
- Protein – Not majorly important at this point, but good if you can get some of the oily fats etc. from fish that comes with the protein too. Your body will be crying out for it soon enough from the increased activity levels, but give it a chance!
Chicken & wholemeal rice stir fry (especially when you batch it)
Salmon & cottage cheese crackers with spinach (if you’re pushed for time)
This meal is important and turns into a bit of a juggling act! On the one hand you don’t want to consume too many calories that you store them as fat, but also you want to keep your body NON catabolic and still burning something.
With that in mind, you ideally want to avoid carbohydrates for the final meal of the day.
Key Components – Dinner Time
- Protein – This could ideally be something like a red meat, as it releases the protein slower into your system and since you’re going to be without a good course of nutrients for a while… the slower the better!
- Fats– Oils from foods like nuts, seeds, and olive oil are another way to get some good sources of fats into your system before ‘beddie byes’!
Sirloin Steak with new potatoes (small portion) and spinach
Bolognese with vegetables & wholemeal pasta (small portion)
Let’s get real!
If you’re fitting into the category that most people will find themselves in, with all meals throughout the day being small/ miss-timed or non-existent, and then your biggest meal of the day being dinner.
All that stuff I’ve said above will be hard to accomplish straight away. Therefore, here’s a guide that will coincide with the traditional size & timings of meals, but in a healthy way.
Usual problems: lack of time in the morning, lack of appetite in the morning
Solution: Nutri-bullet shakes, breakfast biscuit bars, microwave porridge, fruit, toast… All these things take minutes to prepare, and more often than not are just rejected down to habit.
Even if you’re not hungry, still try and get into the habit of eating something to give your body some fuel to burn.
Usual problems: lack of options to buy anything, my place of work only sells unhealthy stuff.
Solution: make a larger dinner the night before & take leftovers in. Take fruit to snack on during the day.
Around lunch if you can eat at your desk, higher carb lunches will see you get through the day with more energy.
Usual problems: the family eats together, getting home late due to schedule, lack of time to buy food or cook in evening.
Solution: on this one you may have to think out of the box as it is SO ingrained into UK culture as being the biggest meal.
Try to prepare yourself a separate meal, or avoid carbs later in the day, or give yourself different portions than the rest of the family and save the leftovers for lunch the following day.