From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes no sense whatsoever to think that the human body would immediately begin to break down hard-earned muscle after going only a few hours without “refueling”.
If this were the case, our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have become weak and unable to hunt or otherwise procure food in the face of a relatively short term famine. So instead we developed the ability to store excess calories from food in our adipose tissue as fat along with the ability to access that fat for energy when needed due to a temporary shortage of food.
The truth is the idea that we need to be eating almost constantly is more a creation of the food manufacturing and marketing industry than actual human physiology.
Most experts now agree that the window between “eating opportunities” has decreased from 4 1/2 hours down to about 3 hours over the past few decades.
The way this plays out in everyday life is millions of people hitting the fast-food window or vending machine for “something, anything” to suppress the sensations of hunger lurking around every corner. Millions of kids come home from school and eat Poptarts, cereal, granola bars, or whatever to “keep their energy up” or “help with concentration”.
On the more health-conscious side of things, I was one of those who honestly believed that eating a combination of protein and carbohydrates every three hours would speed up the metabolism and keep you in an anabolic (muscle building) state. I used this approach to lose over 50 lbs and even taught it in my lectures and used it to guide the progress of my clients.
But there is a better way.
The fact is, once your metabolism has become adapted to burning fat for energy (even dietary fat) through nutrition and training it allows you to go longer periods of time between meals without sacrificing performance or energy and allows you to easily burn stored body fat for fuel.
The “hammer and chisel” I’m talking about is a whole-food, nutrient dense diet that is higher in fat / moderate in protein and / lower carbohydrate, combined with combined with a regular exercise program.
There is so much information overwhelm going on right now in the health, nutrition and wellness space surrounding these very concepts. This is what prompted me to begin writing on the subject. I have no agenda in mind other than helping people to get healthy and stay healthy.
My experience is that the best ideas travel from one person to another just like they did thousands of years ago. If you’ve had a good experience with these concepts like I have and you want to help get the message out about making positive health changes, share something to help others!