Meal Timing, Composition, and Amount

Meal Timing, Composition, and Amount

Meal Timing, Composition, and Amount
By Ellen Coleman

Proper meal timing, meal size, and meal composition is critical to provide even blood glucose levels throughout the day to train and work.

Proper fueling throughout the day (distributing calories evenly throughout the day) is also essential for weight control. Many triathletes get hungry later in the day because they aren’t eating enough calories (and protein) earlier in the day. By the end of the day, they’re starving and eat more calories than if they had spread the calories over five or six smaller meals.

I call this “back-loading” calories. It works against weight control; athletes get so hungry, it’s easy to overeat later in the day. Distributing calories evenly throughout the day helps to prevent overeating.

To maintain your blood sugar and overall energy level, I recommend eating a meal or snack containing protein and carbohydrate about every three hours. Carbohydrate raises your blood sugar, protein keeps it from falling. So, the meal/snack timing would be (for example): 6 AM, 10 AM, 12 PM, 3 PM, 6 PM.

Recording your food intake will help you fine-tune when you eat, what you eat, and how much you eat.

The key is to take in more earlier in the day so that you’re not starving and inclined to overeat at dinner.

By fueling yourself more evenly throughout the day, you can consume less calories, gradually lose body fat, and still have the energy to work and train.

If you want to lose weight, you’ll also benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables. These foods are nutrient-dense and low in calories — they help you feel full on less calories. An entire weight loss plan (Volumetrics) is based on this concept.

If you cut calories too much and try to lose body fat too fast, you can’t train as intensely or as long. You’re also more likely to get sick or injured.

Sample meal plan (provides 2,300 calories)

Breakfast (500 calories):
1 egg
2 pieces whole grain toast (use added fat or jam sparingly)
1 piece fruit
1/2 cup fruit juice

Mid-morning snack (250 calories):
1 ounce string cheese
1 1/2 ounces pretzels

Lunch (600 calories):
3 ounces meat, fish, or fowl
1 cup raw or cooked vegetables
1 piece fruit
1 cup of rice/pasta or 1 piece bread and ? cup rice/pasta

Mid-afternoon snack (250 calories):
Liquid meal (e.g. Boost)

Dinner (600 calories):
3 ounces meat, fish, or fowl
1 cup raw or cooked vegetables
1 piece fruit
1 cup of rice/pasta or 1 piece bread and ? cup rice/pasta
Miles of smiles,
Ellen Coleman, RD, MA, MPH

Ellen is available for nutritional consultations via phone or email.

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