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TOPIC: Better to eat only when hungry, or on a schedule?

 
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August 13, 2012 11:08 AM
I eat so rarely now when I'm actually hungry, and I'm wondering if this is a problem. I mean, I've had an eating schedule before, where you eat small meals throughout the day to "keep your metabolism" going or whatever, but I'm wondering if that kind of eating is the best thing?

Shouldn't the signal for hunger your body gives you be the best time to eat? Whether that means it's two hours after you ate before, or six?

Just curious as to what everyone's opinion on this is.
  11727250
August 13, 2012 11:11 AM
With intermittent fasting techniques becoming more popular, I think it has been shown pretty well that the whole idea of needing to eat throughout the day is kind of hokey and doesn't make sense from an evolutionary point of view. I'd say you should eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full.
  9684357
August 13, 2012 11:11 AM
Personally, I'm of the opinion to eat when you're hungry. However, this shouldn't mean missing a meal, especially breakfast.
Keep up the great work!
  27729948
August 13, 2012 11:14 AM
For me, the eating at X:XX meant eating when I wasn't hungry. It meant calories I did not need. It just didn't work for me.

I am a fan of fasting, in fact today is a fasting day and I have yet to feel actually hungry and I've been up and moving for 8 hours. If I was eating every three hours, I would have consumed all those calories I didn't even need.

Fast a day, eat a day, fast a day, eat a day. Weight is coming off!
  5701915
August 13, 2012 1:45 PM
I've maintained my weight my whole life going by the belief that I should only eat when I'm hungry. It's worked for me so I'm sticking to it. The only time this has NOT worked is when I know I'm doing a longer race and will need the energy. As a general rule you can get through a workout that is two hours long without eating extra calories before hand. Anything longer...a 2.5 hour workout, etc. will require goo or a small protein bar or something in between.

This is only what I've discovered on my own, I'm sure everyone's body is different.
August 13, 2012 1:57 PM
I've become accustomed to a schedule that includes a protein shake before workout (at 4:30am) and one after (6:30am). I eat breakfast when I get to work (8 am) and I have a small snack between then and lunch (noon). Then, I have another snack between lunch (noon) and 5pm, when I get out of work. When I get home, I eat dinner around 6:30. I have another protein shake before bed (casein).

I don't eat only when I'm hungry, I find that if I wait until I'm totally hungry, I tend to overeat. I eat three meals, with two small snacks between so that I don't get hungry. I basically maintain a full belly at all times, but I'm not like "Oh man! It's 10:30 am, I MUST have a snack!" If I don't feel like I don't it that day, I'll skip.

I just don't like sitting down to eat a meal when I'm really, really hungry. That way I'll only eat what I really need to be full without going overboard because I haven't eaten in 6 hours.
  10825235
August 13, 2012 1:59 PM
The answer is whatever works better for you and allows you to maintain your daily calorie goal and macronutrient ratio.

You will lose or gain the same amount of weight regardless of whether you eat 2 meals a day or 7, or eat all your food at night or in the morning. There are tons of studies on this, and anything said to the contrary is just people holding fast to long-believed myths.
  25661298
August 13, 2012 2:04 PM
Do what makes you feel best. The idea of having to eat every couple hours to avoid metabolic catastrophe is bunk. Some people like eating lots of little meals because it keeps them from being hungry and overeating. Other people (like me) feel like crap doing that. Some people like eating larger meals much less frequently. Other people would feel terrible doing that.

Find what you prefer. Then do that. As long as you are eating close to your personal goal calories/macros, it doesn't matter how or when you eat them.
  16412779
August 13, 2012 2:07 PM
QUOTE:

Personally, I'm of the opinion to eat when you're hungry. However, this shouldn't mean missing a meal, especially breakfast.
Keep up the great work!


Never a better word said...
  25362382
November 4, 2013 1:13 PM
It's good to know I'm not the only one who doesn't have that much of an appetite. I sometimes forget to eat breakfast because I'm not hungry. I'll have a cup of coffee with coconut cream, but I have no desire to eat. I can do a workout for 90 minutes, have a Clif Bar when I'm done, and be fine. When I do eat, I only pick @ my meals and eat very little. I get worried about what I've heard about being in starvation mode, but it does seem to be working. My weight loss stalled for a few days, but now I'm back on track.
  37078577
November 4, 2013 1:37 PM
I would say, do what ever works best for you. You can eat as many meals or as few meals as you want, as long as they fit in your calorie and macro limits.

Personally, I am ALWAYS hungry so the eat only when hungry wouldn't work for me. And I can't eat on a schedule because I don't always eat my first meal at the same time.
November 4, 2013 1:42 PM
I feel ya on this one! I sometimes have to make myself eat something. My diet now has a lot of protein and fiber which keeps my full. So, if I'm not hungry 4 hours after my last meal, Ill have a little Greek yogurt or cottage cheese just to keep the metabolism revved up. These are two of my favorite snacks, so it's like a treat.
November 4, 2013 1:44 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Personally, I'm of the opinion to eat when you're hungry. However, this shouldn't mean missing a meal, especially breakfast.
Keep up the great work!


Never a better word said...


Actually... No reason to eat breakfast (except when you see it as breaking your fast for example at 3pm). Nothing wrong with eating breakfast if that works for you, but nothing wrong with skipping it either.
November 4, 2013 1:45 PM
Meal timing/ frequency is not important. All that important is that at the end of the day you have met your caloric needs.
  24149842
November 4, 2013 1:47 PM
If you can control your appetite, just eat when you're hungry. I prefer to eat on a schedule as it gives me much better control - I'd be in debt if I bought and consumed all the food I wanted to eat, haha. Also helps on those days when I want nothing at all, because I could go for a dangerous amount of time without food if I was distracted.
Edited by mortuseon On November 4, 2013 1:49 PM
November 4, 2013 1:48 PM
As long as you are near your calorie goal, and that goal is reasonable, then it really doesn't matter. Use whichever method keeps you on track.
November 4, 2013 2:32 PM
I try to only eat when I'm hungry, but sometimes I have to eat around my schedule.
  33596505
November 4, 2013 2:40 PM
QUOTE:
Shouldn't the signal for hunger your body gives you be the best time to eat? Whether that means it's two hours after you ate before, or six?


Yes and no...for a "normal" person yes....but people who chronically overeat or undereat are not going to have trustworthy hunger signals. Your hunger signals are controlled my the hormone leptin...when you undereat or diet your leptin levels drop...signaling your brain that you aren't hungry...this is why an anorexic can eat 500 calories and state that they're just not hungry...they're truly not...they've tanked their leptin levels.

Conversely someone who overeats all of the time is going to have higher levels of leptin which signals those hunger cues...this is why obese individuals can seemingly eat and eat without ever really "feeling" full.

Basically you can only trust your hunger signals if your leptin levels are in balance...which isn't most people on MFP.

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