Eating less frequently
I have spoken before about the benefits of eating less frequently for some people, primarily that it allows larger meals and can increase satiety from their food intake.
This approach tends to be more simple and the increase nutrient allocation to each meal facilitates more flexibility with food selections.
The downside of this approach is that snacking can cause energy intake to quickly blow out, particularly when it goes somewhat unrecognised.
It’s easy to add in an extra muffin with the morning coffee a few times per week alongside some small snacks in the afternoon, but these really do add up if the primary meals are larger.
Another benefit from this eating style - which I have only become aware of over the past year - is the frequency of the onset of hunger can be harder to manage than duration, for some people.
Many people find that after the onset of some hunger - possibly caused by the emptying of the stomach or another process of digestion - is the most difficult and noticeable phase.
However, once this onset it completed it begins to settle down and the challenge dissipates.
This means that instead of the hunger intensity growing and becoming hard to manage, many people find it plateaus, or even begins to subside.
So the difference between being able to manage a three-hour or five-hour gap between meals isn’t massively different.
If anything, it might be best to decrease the meal frequency to reduce the frequency of those hunger pangs that occur a couple of hours after a meal.
Let’s say you eat six times per day, there might be four of these pangs every day.
But if you eat three times per day, there might only be two.
Being a high-frequency eater myself, I have tried this over the past two months and have found that I fit into this category.
There are times when I could eat at 10am, but I can also wait until 12pm without any adverse effects on concentration or work output, at least not that can be attributed to hunger.
Even when it comes to exercise, where I would previously only train while fed - I used to get up early before 6am training sessions - I have found that performance doesn’t really decline if I go in a bit hunger.
Once the training starts, I completely forget about the hunger anyway.
My experience won’t necessarily be the same for you, or any of my clients, but it does provide some useful insights that have helped with nutrition coaching.
It would be interesting to see a study that looks specifically at the perceived rating of hunger and the impact of eating at certain times.
If the perceived rating of hunger decreases after a peak of +2 hours from the meal, maybe there are benefits to consuming meals during a certain window?
However, since I am not planning on going back to uni anytime soon, we will leave that study for someone else to do.