Forget eating six meals a day. By feasting at dinner time you can build muscle and slash fat without sacrificing your social life
When was the last time you managed to cram in six healthy meals – along with exercise, a productive workday and going out with your mates – into a day? This approach to eating healthily is unsustainable and, unless all your friends and family live in your kitchen, frankly unsociable. There are equally effective, and far more practical, alternatives. Intermittent feasting is a dietary approach that works around your lifestyle. The principle is simple. Eat light during the day and feast in the evening. Here’s how it breaks down.
Crunch the numbers
First, focus on the numbers. Based on your bodyweight you can work out how many calories you need a day and how many should come from protein, fat or carbs (see the box below). Your calorie target will be higher if you’re looking to gain muscle and lower if your goal is fat loss.
Pick up your groceries
Next, make sure those calories come from the right sources. Follow the ‘caveman rule’: if it was around in caveman times, you can eat it. That means protein and fats should come from animal sources such as fish, meat and eggs. Vegetables and whole fruit provide fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Your primary energy fuel for anaerobic training comes from natural starchy foods such as sweet potatoes, yams and rice.
Feast on your own terms
Now plan a diet structure that’s easy and sustainable for you. With intermittent feasting you can eat most of the calories you need at a time that’s convenient. For most people that’s at dinner time when you get home, but the beauty of this approach is that you can tailor your meal distribution to work around your job and social patterns.
Timing is everything
Humans evolved on a fasting and feeding cycle. Daytime was for hunting and gathering but night was the time to feast. The same is true today. When you wake in the morning your body is still fuelled from dinner the night before but is optimised to burn body fat. Skip breakfast and just grab a tea or coffee. Eat a lunch of animal protein plus veg and nuts. On training days, have a piece of whole fruit before and after your workout. For dinner, go big to hit your daily calorie quota and end the night satisfied.
Carbs aren’t the enemy
When it comes to carbs there are two templates to follow: the low-carb, Paleo diet for sedentary people to help with fat loss and maintaining lean muscle, and what I call the traditional Japanese village diet for athletes and regular gym-goers. The latter should eat rice and root vegetables to support their training. If you exercise intensely three or more times a week your body is recovering pretty much all the time. Failing to give your body the nutrients …read more