Are we really supposed to eat every 2-3 hours? Bro science or fact?
I am sure that many times you have heard a fat coworker say that you are supposed to eat every 2 hours because "it's good!" Interestingly, when you ask those people why it's good, all they can mention is metabolism or an article they read online from some 'science guru.' However, this article is going to lay out the actual facts and let you decide for yourself what is true and what is just parroted information.
I'm not one of those conspiracy theorists who thinks that everything is suspicious, but what I am is an observant person. If you only knew how much is spent on advertising to convince you to eat food, it would blow your mind. In fact, the most accurate information I found was a decade old statistic, and the number was staggering - almost 1 Trillion dollars a year just in the United States. That is Trillion with a T, not B.
Indeed, when you turn on the TV or radio you probably hear or watch an advertisement for food. However, they are very clever about it. For example, advertising junk food during the game so you order a pizza. A crappy company that sells disgusting pizza like "Papa Johns" (Italians wouldn't call that this trash pizza) actually sponsors the NFL. This means they get to advertise during games on TV and at the games themselves.
What's more, celebrities like Michael Jordan are shown in a basketball game eating a big mac. In addition to that, we hear things like cereal is 'good for the heart' or that "SubWay" helps you lose weight. As if a 1400 calorie meal from "SubWay" will help you lose fat - it is more than the daily calorie maintenance for an average woman! Nonetheless, ask most of those people and they are convinced. After all, they are PAID to market and make advertisements. What makes things worse, is the fact that there are no laws about misleading people and the few times companies are sued, they get to settle their cases for peanuts.
Humans and animals did not evolve to be able to pick up the phone and call for a pizza, drive to a restaurant, walk to a fridge or their pantry to eat something out of a box. If they got hungry, humans would seek food while being in a hunger state as their motivation. Once the food was acquired, they would eat and relax, as the body got what it wanted. After a certain amount of time, the process repeated itself. As a matter of fact, this is why after Thanksgiving dinner you feel tired - it isn't just from the tryptophan.
Therefore, to acquire calories our ancestors would basically expel calories first. Compare that to today, where we spend no calories and in exchange, we get a lot of them. This is what we do these days to get food - go to a fast food drive-thru, sit at a restaurant and get the food served, order food and have it delivered, or even just walk to the kitchen and open the fridge. Do you feel the difference in the energy spent to get the food?
Training as compensation
Someone could argue that it is okay to have a cheat meal if you get in a nice workout. However, let's learn the facts about this theory. If a male were to have a very strong 1-hour workout with high intensity, they may burn about 500 calories, while a woman will burn around 300 calories. That might seem like a good energy expenditure, but the problem comes when that person goes to Chipotle and has just a typical chicken burrito with guacamole (not counting chips or drink) - that is 953 calories coming in! So you busted your ass to burn 500 calories just to get back 953 calories. The math doesn't add up!
A “Big Mac” meal from McDonald's is going to be over 1000 calories. A normal slice of pizza around 300 calories assuming it only has cheese. You eat 3 slices and get in about 1000 calories. So this argument that it is okay to have a cheat meal if you workout just isn't true, and you will only spin your wheels and make no progress. Not only are we eating too much food, but the wrong foods too. This is why people fail at dieting and quit gym memberships.
Okay, so I guess you might not be convinced that we eat excessively today and training does not help all that much. Well, here are more stats that will tell you something is wrong. Scientists all agree that we are getting too much food and exercising too little compared to 1960. This goes in line with what I said above about calories in vs. calories exerted to acquire those calories. As a result, we get the average weight of an American 25 pounds higher compared to 1960. Yikes!
This excessive body weight creates the #1 killer for both sexes today - heart disease, and this very second 50% of Americans are walking around with this condition! These days it is considered normal to have high blood pressure and high levels of bad cholesterol. However, 2000 people a day in the United States die from heart disease - that's almost 750,000 people a year!
The next big killer after heart disease is cancer, which is not far behind with 600,000 deaths a year and there will be 2,000,000 people diagnosed next year with cancer. Interestingly, this is yet another disease that feeds on food. In fact, during a prolonged fasted state cancer and tumor cells not only shrink, but they also die. Hence, the more you feed it, especially with sugar, the more it will grow and thrive. Again - food is literally killing us.
Do I really need to show you statistics for diabetes after all that has been shown above? Type 2 diabetes is accelerating to epic numbers, and the scariest thing is not the people who already are type 2 diabetic, but the 90,000,000 (90 million!) adults in the USA who are pre-diabetic.
What is even worse, is that they are doing nothing to fix the issue! Sadly, a lot of people want to blame their genetics for this. Although this is true that certain people do carry genes that increase their chances to get diabetes, that doesn't mean you will. Type 2 diabetes is caused by poor lifestyle, lack of exercise and poor diet combination.
Ask a diabetic about insulin or the pancreas and they will have no clue. Moreover, they are also likely to follow the "eat every 2 hours" theory in almost every instance. Ironically, eating more often and more volume increases your body's insulin resistance, which will eventually lead to a higher chance of acquiring type 2 diabetes.
It is true that when you eat every two hours you boost your metabolism a little bit. But is this really true if you factor in everything? The answer is actually very interesting. Two of the most important and massive hormones that truly manipulate our bodies are both produced in the pancreas.
- Insulin: This hormone leads to high blood sugar, and it is released when we eat food. This is not the case for those with a type 1 diabetes, whose pancreas doesn't function and needs them to inject exogenous insulin. However, this is how it works for everyone else - in response to the foods we put into our body, especially carbs, our pancreas produces insulin, which helps our body store and absorb nutrients. Once its job is done, insulin finally comes down.
- Glucagon: This hormone is the opposite of insulin. Glucagon leads to low blood sugar by raising the concentration of glucose and fat in the bloodstream. As a result, it causes a release of fats that need to be burned. Therefore, all those carbs sitting in your muscle and liver cells are in the form of glycogen, but they need to be released in order to get converted back into glucose by glucagon. Fatty acids need glucagon to turn them mobile, so they can be released and burn fat. They convert into free-fatty acids and ketones.
Insulin in action
Let us take a look at recent rat studies. All the studies had the rats eating the same food and having the same amount of exercise. However, the rats that got insulin gained weight, while the rats that got glucagon actually lost weight. Hence, if we want to lose fat, we obviously need less insulin and more glucagon in the body.
Professional bodybuilders who weigh 300 pounds abuse insulin for a reason - they want their bodies to be in storage mode to take advantage of all the food they eat. I don't think anyone who has a bit of logic would disagree with this. Nonetheless, getting this big leads to major health problems - notice the recent deaths of popular large bodybuilders like Rich Piana, and expect many more to have serious health issues.
Why eating frequently is counterproductive
Every time we eat, an insulin spike happens, and it takes four hours for that insulin to come back down. Only when insulin is low, glucagon gets released again. The question is - how can you burn fat effectively when you are eating every 2-3 hours and do not let glucagon increase? You end up having a much harder time burning fat without severely restricting calories.
This is why the eating every 2-3 hours fails so miserably for fat people who continuously have high blood sugar all day. They start their day off with pancakes, pastry, donuts, and other garbage. What's more, for lunch they will eat junk food like bread, pasta, or fatty meats drenched in condiments. Add to that snacks throughout the day, and then more garbage for dinner. To top it off they don't exercise enough! As a result, their bodies are constantly in STORAGE mode and not BURNING mode.
6 meals vs 2 meals?
Here is another recent study that will blow your mind. There was a study done on 50 diabetics in two groups. One group had 2 larger meals, and the other one had 6 smaller meals, both of which totaled the same amount of calories. The diabetics that did the 2 meals a day had way less insulin and way less blood glucose, higher ghrelin (hunger hormone) and increased resting metabolic rate. So metabolism actually went UP by having larger meals spread out vs. smaller ones closer together.
What this means is that you can actually burn bodyfat more effectively by having 1 or 2 large meals per day, hence prolonging your fasting periods. However, you can still lose fat by eating smaller meals more frequently – it will just be considerably less effective in comparison to few meals.
Not long ago I wrote an article about Mike Rashid (you can take a look at it here: https://www.evolutionary.org/mike-rashid-steroids). I mention Mike because he has adopted the 1 meal a day strategy and it has resulted in a much healthier and leaner frame for him. In this video, Mike explains why he decided to turn to the minimal meals a day strategy:
In the video, he brings up the good point that your body is constantly working when you eat often during the day - when does it ever get a break?
Another very popular video that has 4M views is:
It is a long video, but a very interesting one. In this video, they argue that having 3 meals a day, or even eating every day, was impossible as humans evolved. As far as consuming carbohydrates to maintain glucose, it is a never ending loop of wanting to eat every time your blood glucose drops. Do you have any diabetic friends? Observe them as they are always going to their fridge or pantry for a snack every 30-60 minutes. They are stuck in that loop!
How to break the carb-loop?
If you stop consuming glucose for 12 hours or more, your glucose levels will deplete and your body will start breaking down fat, allowing your liver to produce ketones. Ketones, like glucose, can be used for energy, but they are more stable, efficient, and don't cause such complications as being a magnet to disease.
The truth of the matter is that humans can survive just fine without any carbohydrates at all. I'm not suggesting you completely avoid carbs, but I am saying that you don't need them every time you get a craving. Leave your cravings or hunger pains alone a few times a day – that will definitely be healthier than always eating when you feel the urge. Stop letting your mind trick you into doing something that your body doesn't need.
Myth of ketogenic diet
I am not a believer in ketogenic (keto) dieting, as I have yet to see any evidence that eating just meat and vegetables every 2 hours magically puts you in ketosis. If you don't believe me, and you still think you are on a real keto diet, do the following experiment. Go to the drug store, buy ketone strips, and piss on them – you will see that ketones won't show up on them! So where is the evidence? The keto diet might work just fine for you to lose weight, but, in my view, it isn't necessarily healthy; hence, it isn't even up for discussion in this article.
How do I lose weight?
So I want to burn fat, lose weight, stop being a slave to food, and improve my health - how do I achieve this? The answer is simple - simplify this shit. Consequently, the solutions are three fold - limiting meals, intermittent fasting, or prolonged fasting.
Limiting meals: This is the Mike Rashid strategy of 1 large meal per day that has been mentioned above. As an alternative, you can do 1 large meal AM and 1 large meal PM spread out at least 10-12 hours. This actually is what Muslims do during Ramadan fasting (at least those who practice it) and this has been done for thousands of years. They eat large meals before sunrise and right after sunset, and do not eat during the day. You can think whatever you want about this approach, but last time I checked, those people were way leaner than the average fat American who eats 6 meals a day.
Intermittent fasting: This is typically where you eat in the window between the early afternoon and the evening, and then fast for 16 hours straight. Others will eat small meals during this 6-8 hour food window. What matters the most here is the idea that you spend 16 hours without food. Obviously, you should still drink water during this time. This will give you that insulin drop and glucagon rise we are targeting. It will also keep you from snacking all day and put some discipline into your dieting.
Prolonged fasting: This by definition means you water fast for days or weeks. In the past few months, I have done a 5 day and 10-day water fast. As a less hardcore alternative, you can do a 24 hour fast, which is executed by eating in the evening and then waiting 24 hours to eat again the next evening.
Prolonged fasting has been shown to actually kill white blood cells in the body, which are then refreshed into new troops. Thus, it will boost the immune system, anti-age, shrink cancer cells/tumors, and help repair the digestive system. There is also evidence that a suppressed HPTA can be repaired by prolonged fasting for those of you have abused steroids in the past.
Before doing a prolonged fasting, I recommend you to do 24 hours fasting 2-4 times per month during several months to acclimate your body. Don't worry about what your friends will tell you - a healthy human can function 8 weeks without food.
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