Participation in the F45 Challenge means working on changing behaviors, to help you be the healthiest version of yourself. Two key questions often come up: how frequently should you be eating? How long before bed should you stop eating?
How often should you eat?
This one can be a case of ‘how long is a piece of string’, and depends on a range of factors. For some, eating 3 larger meals across the day suits better than including snacks. Whilst for others, including snacks helps with maintaining energy levels across the day, particularly if you don’t feel as comfortable eating larger meals. But is one better than the other? Do you ‘have’ to leave three hours in between each meal?
For most individuals, leaving at least a few hours in between meals allows time for the last meal to digest, and to actually feel hungry between meals. Eating meals closer together than every three or so hours may also result in constant grazing, rather than including a healthy meal. This style of eating is prone to over consumption, so unless energy requirements are incredibly high, is something most people should avoid. On top of this, giving your body a chance to rest and digest your meal may leave you feeling more energised than constantly eating across the day.
Rather than having a set time to eat (or not eat), listening to your hunger and fullness cues is the best way to monitor what your body requires.
How long before bed should you stop eating?
Whilst you may have read articles in popular media suggesting you must stop eating in the evening by a certain time, it is much more beneficial to think about your own individual needs and lifestyle.
It is a good idea to leave some time between eating dinner and going to bed to allow your dinner to digest, with the time for this usually being approximately two hours. However, this doesn’t mean that you must finish eating by a set specific time. As an example, if you plan on going to bed by 10pm, aiming to finish your dinner by 8pm can be a helpful strategy. But if you want to go to bed earlier, say 9pm, then finishing by 7pm may work better for you.
The exact two hour time frame is not going to work for everyone. If you do an evening F45 class and aren’t getting home until 8:30pm, this doesn’t mean you should just skip dinner as it is ‘too late to eat’. Instead, it is about modifying your meal choice. Eating after your training is important for recovery and assisting with muscle gains. In this instance, it is still a good idea to eat dinner, but maybe choosing something a little lighter and easier to digest to ensure you aren’t going to bed feeling full and heavy.