Meal Frequency

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Written by: Kevin Cann

                Many nutritionists, dieticians, and doctors have advised clients to eat more frequently throughout the day.  The idea behind this eating schedule is it better controls blood sugar, which in turn controls cravings and hunger.  By controlling cravings and hunger, the thought is the individual will consume less food and ultimately less “junk” food.  The logic makes sense, but I do not feel the science is there to back it up.  On the contrary, people partaking in intermittent fasting (IF) and raving about it is on the rise, and this may be a dangerous undertaking.

                From an evolutionary standpoint, when did we begin to consume set meals?  Throughout history our meal times were variable.  Our paleolithic ancestors were not sitting down at 8am, 12pm, and 5pm for their daily meals.  Due to this the human body has developed a means to go an extended amount of time without food and survive.  We can go weeks without food through a process known as gluconeogenesis.

                Gluconeogenesis is a catabolic process initiated by cortisol.  Our tissues in our body are carried to the liver and broken down into their amino acids to be converted into glucose.  This is a great phenomenon to survive a famine, but not so great for sustainable weight loss.  In fact gluconeogenesis induces insulin resistance and may be why stress is associated with the symptoms of metabolic syndrome (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11724664).  This is where intermittent fasting (IF) may become an issue.

                IF seems to be the next big thing that will solve the world’s weight issues.  For some it may be beneficial to health.  The research is promising when we look at neurodegeneration.  IF may signal certain cellular pathways that protect the neurons from oxidative damage (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16899414 ).  However, for those of us just looking to maximize health it may not be the best choice.

                Confining meals to 8 hours a day can lead to undereating.  This will initiate gluconeogenesis as well as downregulate our thyroid (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2341229).  This can lead to decreased mood and the inability to lose weight.  Remember that cortisol is our major stress hormone.  Eating too few calories is a stressor, and so are any nutrient deficiencies.   Leptin levels will fall increasing hunger while cortisol is increasing insulin resistance.  This is a very good way to create an environment where you overeat and store a lot of fat.

                On the other end of the spectrum, IF may pose a means to be beneficial to both health and weight loss if we are not in a state of stress or trying to maximize performance.  This means we are getting 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, do not suffer from chronic stress, are taking in enough calories, have no nutrient deficiencies, and we are not trying to compete in a sport.  Studies have shown IF to be an effective means for weight loss, and it may even have a protective effect on our heart (http://www.nutritionj.com/content/11/1/98).

                Adrenaline is a neurotransmitter that is released during times of stress.  It helps us cope with physical and emotional pain.  Just like with insulin and leptin, our cells can become resistant to adrenaline.  This is really bad if fat loss is your goal because adrenaline is responsible for releasing our stored fat into the bloodstream to be used as energy.  Insulin, leptin, and adrenaline are key players to energy homeostasis.  If there is resistance in one there is resistance in all three.  This sets the stage to be very good at storing fat and very poor at releasing that stored fat.  This is one way in which we can continue to cut calories and continue to gain weight!  If we are resistant to any one of these hormones, IF is a bad idea.  Exercise can both help and hurt us here.  The right amount of physical activity can increase sensitivity to insulin in both the muscles and the liver.  However, too much exercise can just piggyback on the same issues with leptin, insulin, and adrenaline.   

                6 meals per day will definitely allow for glucose to be readily available at all times.  This will prevent us from using gluconeogenesis to maintain blood sugar.  However, there are some other issues with this eating frequency.  There are two phases for insulin secretion.  The first phase lasts for approximately 10 minutes.  The pancreas stores insulin in preparation for the next meal.  During phase 1 this stored insulin is released.  In phase 2 the pancreas produces more insulin.  Insulin is present in the bloodstream for 2-3 hours after the meal is consumed. 

                Eating every 2-3 hours puts a strain on the pancreas because it is unable to produce the stored insulin for phase 1 of secretion.  This means that our pancreatic beta cells are working nonstop.  This is a fast track to type 2 diabetes.  In fact, loss of first phase insulin secretion is an independent predictor of type 2 diabetes (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22834840).  Leptin and insulin work together to control energy consumption and storage.

                There are leptin receptors present on the pancreatic beta cells.  As we eat, leptin levels should rise, increasing satiety as well as communicating with the pancreatic cells to stop producing insulin (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14749281).   On the other hand, an increase in insulin increases leptin.  If we continually secrete insulin, increasing leptin, we can be on a fast track to leptin resistance and metabolic syndrome.  Once again we have developed leptin and insulin resistance.

                Our body, when functioning properly, has a checks and balances system.  Opposite insulin is a hormone called glucagon.  Glucagon communicates with the liver to release its stored glucose to maintain blood sugar levels.  At this point free fatty acids are stimulated, as well as ketone bodies.  This is the true fat burning time.  Insulin and glucagon cannot be present in the bloodstream at the same time, so this occurs roughly 3 hours after eating a meal.  If we consume a meal every 2-3 hours glucagon is never released and we never enter this fat burning period.  We cannot burn fat while insulin is present!

                Eating throughout the day causes our pancreas to become exhausted and our liver to become lazy.  We need to create a balance of work and rest between the two.  Not releasing stored glucose from the liver is bad news, especially if we are inactive.  If those liver stores are full, the carbohydrates will be converted to triglycerides and sent to storage.  If you feel fatigued and moody every 2-3 hours if you do not eat, then this is a sign of insulin resistance.  Your energy and mood are being driven by blood sugar swings.  Your pancreas is constantly releasing insulin, and any leftover insulin in the blood will spike hunger and dip energy.  Remember high insulin equals high leptin.  The snack may alleviate the symptoms temporarily, but done over the long haul it will lead to insulin and leptin resistance.

                Eating 3 meals a day seems to be an effective way to avoid the stressors of undereating or going too long without food while allowing for our fat burning hormones to do their job.  I would encourage these meals to be spaced apart every 5 hours.  This allows for equal time between insulin and glucagon and an equal work to rest ratio for our liver and pancreas.  If hunger persists try eating more at the previous meal, especially protein, or try taking some digestive enzymes with each meal.  People who partake in IF rave about its ability to stimulate fat loss, and show some studies to support this.  I personally believe 16 hours between two meals is too long.  You can have the same weight loss effects spacing out dinner from the night before and breakfast 10-12 hours.  This decreases the risk of causing excess stress and allows for substantial time in the fat loss area.

                I hope this helps clear up why I recommend 3 meals per day for resetting hormones and stimulating fat loss.  Snacking does the same thing as a full meal in terms of insulin secretion and shutting off the fat burning hormones.  If you are diabetic it is important to talk to your doctor about meal frequency because it may be important to eat more frequently to maintain blood sugar.  Also, eating more frequently throughout the day may be beneficial to athletes.  This can ensure the glycogen stores are full and ready to go, as well as ensure that the athlete is taking in enough calories.  Eating for performance differs from eating for maximal weight loss and health.

                In conclusion, the first step to undertake to obtain optimal health is to try the paleo template along with getting 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep, and undertaking some stress management techniques.  Health and disease are along a spectrum, the more you do to obtain better health the better chances of reaching your goals.  Remove grains, dairy, and legumes for a month or two and reassess your health.  Eating 3 meals a day may be really hard to do right off the bat.  Just removing problematic foods can go a long way to making you feel better.  After this time period has elapsed and you feel you have stalled, try switching it up to eating 3 meals per day spaced roughly 5 hours apart.  If after a few months you are feeling great, sleep is great, but you still think you may be able to lose more fat perhaps then you try IF.

               

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  1. Jill
    July 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

    How would your recommend getting off the 6 meal/day roller coaster, though, for someone who is obese and already insulin resistant coming off a very poor standard American diet? Even after eating a large breakfast with protein, fat and carbs (2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, 1/2 sweet potato and an orange), I am starving by 10 am and experiencing blood sugar crashes. I’m not sure how to get through the first 3 weeks to a spot where it will be better when I’m facing constant cravings and blood sugar crashes.

    • Robb Wolf
      July 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      I’d just shoot for getting in 5 meals. Then 4. A walk before brekie can help with the blood sugar a good deal.

      • Kevin Cann
        July 18, 2013 at 6:10 pm

        Could not agree more!

      • mekaylah
        July 19, 2013 at 3:39 am

        I agree. If you suffer dawn phenomena, an AM fasted walk will take the edge off of that for sure. I would wonder if you are still having reactive hypoglycemia, which is possible since you are a type 2 and your pancreas still produces insulin. I am a type 1, I personally don’t have carbs with breakfast unless I am going to the gym. I would also LOVE to recommend you talk to Ginger Vieria or look into her book “your diabetes science experiment”. She is a health coach, ex powerlifting record holder, type 1 diabetic, writes for diabetes daily, has several videos on youtube, and she has helped me more with my type 1 in the past three months than ANYONE has in the past 2.5 years since i got diagnosed. i highly recommend paleo template and talking to this smart cookie or at least reading her book.

    • Martin
      July 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      “2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, 1/2 sweet potato and an orange” does not sound like a large breakfast and it’s no more than 20g or protein. Why don’t you try eating 4 eggs and 4 slices of bacon and… no sweet potato or any fruits?

      • Ryan
        July 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm

        I was kind of thinking the same thing about that sounding like a sparse breakfast. How about 3 eggs with some kale or broccoli, the sweet potato diced and cooked in Coconut Oil along with 6 pieces of pastured bacon. I like to throw in whatever left over protein I had from the previous nights dinner, into my eggs too. I’d personally ditch the orange.

  2. Hannah
    July 18, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I was diagnosed with severe reactive hypoglycemia years ago and despite a reworking of my diet, I still struggle with unbalanced blood sugar. I have eaten a mostly paleo diet for 2 years and am doing the whole 30 now, but I am still struggling. I cannot go more than 2-3 hours without eating, lest I get shaky and grumpy. What can I do to support my body to heal from the damage done by my hypoglycemia and get to a point where I can go 5 hours between meals? I am nursing a toddler, but even without being pregnant or nursing I have erratic blood sugar. I would LOVE to go 5 hours between meals!

    • Robb Wolf
      July 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      Have you had a thorough thyroid panel done?

      • Kevin Cann
        July 18, 2013 at 6:11 pm

        I would check adrenals too

        • Hannah
          July 19, 2013 at 11:22 pm

          I had a saliva test done last year and I was borderline on adrenal fatigue. My cortisol levels were completely flipped from what they should be. I know I am still struggling with that as I am wide awake now at midnight, but come noon, I feel like I could lay down on a bed of nails and be out in seconds. Some hormone imbalance is to be expected as I am nursing, but I know things are more imbalanced than they should be even giving that- I just don’t know what to do about it!

  3. Jason
    July 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I appreciate the info but breakfast hasn’t ever worked for me. In addition to never being hungry in the morning I also have tolerance issues with egg yolks and whey. So this would leave me eating bacon and cheese, which sounds pretty good. I eat a regular sized lunch but try to pack in the calories at dinner time.

    • Robb Wolf
      July 18, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      That seems fine, especially given that you are not hungry.

      • Kevin Cann
        July 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm

        I believe Dr. McBride-Cambpell spoke about how autophagy may carry itself until 10amish, which decreases hunger. I personally never looked into it, but it makes sense. I am the same way and do fine with working out in the morning and then eating breakfast.

        • Kevin Cann
          July 18, 2013 at 6:16 pm

          Cambpell-Mcbride, it is late here! haha

    • Amy B.
      July 19, 2013 at 6:58 am

      I’m not sure how having tolerance issues with egg yolks and whey means you can’t have breakfast. Not being hungry in the morning makes sense and is a legit justification, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can’t eat breakfast because you don’t like (or are sensitive to) eggs. Bacon and cheese are not your only options. Remember, breakfast is just a *meal.* An opportunity to feed yourself. Could be leftover steak & spinach, tuna, or whatever. Just *food.* ;-)

      • Ryan
        July 20, 2013 at 7:47 pm

        I second that. The longer I eat Paleo the more my breakfast just looks like any other meal at lunch or dinner. I don’t think twice about eating Salmon or Pork chops for breakfast. I was raised on two bowls of cereal for 30+ years of my life, so this did take some time to get used to.

  4. Kevin
    July 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Interesting piece Kevin. New to Paleo and site, but post brings up some interesting points that run contrary to my understanding. Not a bad thing as I think it is always good to take a critical look at the way you are doing things, evaluate, and change if necessary.
    Concept of insulin resistance related to mood is one I’ll definitely be testing out over the next month or so.
    Many thanks.

  5. Lisa
    July 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    I follow a paleo/zone diet. I eat 3 meals and 2 snacks day. If I were to eat only 3 meals a day, would I increase my protein/fat/carb percentage. (ie 3 oz of meat would be increased to 4 oz?)

  6. mike
    July 18, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Hi Kevin/Robb

    ”  From an evolutionary standpoint, when did we begin to consume set meals?   From an evolutionary standpoint, when did we begin to consume set meals? ”

    Correct, but from an “evolutionary standpoint” where is any evidence that not eating for around 18 hours was detrimental regarding gluconeogenesis induced by cortisol.
    The cortisone paper`s abstract started talking about android obesity and cortisol secretion..then started talking about their test using fasting subjects.
    We don’t know what the physical condition was of these subjects..where they obese etc..?
    And its summary stated “Smaller increases in serum cortisol may contribute to the abnormal glucose metabolism known to occur in the metabolic syndrome.”
    So, someone suffering from metabolic syndrome, might react differently to the release of elevated cortisol levels than someone fit and healthy.?
    Which would also imply that vigorous exercise, which can elevate cortisol, could also be as detrimental as IF might be for metabolic syndrome sufferers.
    I was also under the impression that a large amount of blood glucose in the morning was caused by gluconeogenesis.
    “6 meals per day will definitely allow for glucose to be readily available at all times.  This will prevent us from using gluconeogenesis to maintain blood sugar.”
    Then you contradicted that with..
    “Eating every 2-3 hours puts a strain on the pancreas because it is unable to produce the stored insulin for phase 1 of secretion.”
    And this comment.
    “Confining meals to 8 hours a day can lead to under eating.This will initiate gluconeogenesis as well as down regulate our thyroid.”
    It could, but why should it.?
    The women in the study were all obese, and the study switched the low cal group “gradually” from 4oo Kcal/day to 1200 kcal/day.
    So it was essentially meaningless because we don’t the exact calories being consumed by the low cal group.

    • Kevin Cann
      July 20, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Cortisol secretion can most definitely effect certain people more. Poison is in the dose. Cortisol induces IR, the longer we are there the worse off we can be. That “healthy” person may react ok to cortisol at first, but over time it will become an issue. Throw circadian rhythm off and health deteriorates.

      I have written on this site more then once stating that overtraining is bad news. You are right on there.

      Some gluconeogenesis is good, too much is bad. We need to find that sweet spot to maximize weight loss and keep at bay any potential negative health aspects.

      Studies need to be done at extremes to show results in a reasonable time frame. The reason proolonged calorie restriction can be problematic is because it is a stressor. It induces survival mode for starvation. The thyroid down regulates to put us in energy conservation mode. Basically it slams the breaks on metabolism. We dont need to know exact calories, just that it is less then daily expenditure.

  7. Amy B.
    July 19, 2013 at 7:06 am

    “Snacking does the same thing as a full meal in terms of insulin secretion and shutting off the fat burning hormones.”

    Not trying to nitpick, because I really respect and appreciate the articles you write, Kevin. Just curious about one thing: Do you think what you said about snacks would still hold true if the snacks were things like hard boiled eggs, beef jerky, nuts, or raw celery/fennel/other veg with a miniscule GI/GL? I could see it being true if we’re talking about a couple hundred calorie packs of Oreos (or even a handful of dried fruit). But I’m inclined to disagree about meat/fat-based snacks. Maybe they would put fat-burning on hold *a little,* but nothing like an office worker snack of iced mocha and blueberry scone…

    • Kevin Cann
      July 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      Everytime we eat insulin is secreted. We cannot burn fat when insulin is present. Even healthy snacks remove us from that “fat burning” mode.

      • Ryan
        July 20, 2013 at 7:50 pm

        I swear I’ve read that even thinking about eating food can start insulin production.

    • Panagiotis
      February 1, 2014 at 7:46 pm

      I like reading your obnirvateoss, Lizzy. I know that I personally feel much better when I’m eating clean (and sleeping and not stressing out.) Good luck. We only have a few more days of the Challenge, but I hope that you take some of the habits learned during this time and apply them in the future. :-) See you on Saturday?

  8. Gail
    July 19, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Thank you. I needed this information and was never able to sort it out. After a bad experience with Metformin and getting better control with the Paleo diet, I still have a ways to go. The information about how meal frequency affects Insulin, leptin, etc is just what I need to make a change. Is it possible that a lazy liver or damaged liver is what made Metformin such a misery? I was ravenous all the time, symptoms of low blood sugar after 2-3 hours while blood sugar was in the 180 range.

  9. Lindsey
    July 20, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    So what do we do if we aren’t diabetic but already have low blood sugar? I have never been able to go even close to 5 hours between meals, and now am eating at least every 2 hours to keep blood sugar stable (also on autoimmune protocol). Is this a problem?

    • Kevin Cann
      July 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      I would get some thyroid and adrenal tests done and work with a practitioner. They may be able to fix your energy hormones if there is an issue. Maybe there is no issue and you do better eating more often. Either way testing will clear it up

  10. Tom
    July 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Would three regular meals help prevent high fasting blood glucose in the morning?

    I typically do skip breakfast and then eat lunch at 1pm and dinner between 6 and 8pm. I eat low-carb with 30-45 of protein per meal and as much fat as I need for satiaty. My blood sugar during the day stays fairly low, 80-90s, but in the morning it can be as high as 110.

  11. JohnAZ
    July 20, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Lots of questions > Isn’t this article contrary to the Paleo/ZONE diet that is supposed to be so good for the very active fitness athlete? And how does this eating plan take into account drinking a protein shake(with some carbs) after a workout? The last I read, 1-2 hours after the protein drink you should eat a meal. Also, what about taking BCAA or other supps before bedtime? One last question, where’s your references supporting this eating plan?

  12. Danielle
    July 20, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    First of all, great article, thank you! I do have a question though, and maybe you can help!

    Paleo has definitely leveled my blood sugar. There are times when I’m at work, I’m busy, and I am simply not hungry when lunch rolls around. How do you feel about not eating a meal if you’re legitimately not hungry? I admit that I *am* trying to lose 10-15 pounds; with my activity level, diet, and medical history, I am wondering if I should eat something even if I’m not hungry as I am trying to meet my weight loss goal (and failing lol).

    Activity level: I do various TurboFire (a mix of cardio and HIIT workouts), kettlebells, and yoga workouts 6 days/week. I rotate them around so I’m not killing myself.

    Diet: Whole30 in Feb, Paleo ever since. Can’t lose weight, though…I seem to have actually put on a bit more since eating Paleo. Frustrating.

    Med. history: I had thyroid cancer 1 1/2 years ago, so my thyroid was removed and I’ve been on Levothyroxine ever since (and my May blood test says I’m balanced). I really believe the Levo makes it harder for me to lose weight.

    So…I’m eating better than ever and working out more than ever, but I am thyroid-less and can’t lose a dang pound. To meet my weight loss goal, should I skip meals if I am not hungry, or still eat something? Am I not losing weight because I’m not eating enough, and then my body hoards everything? Thanks in advance!

    • Kevin Cann
      July 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Hey Danielle,

      Hang in there, you are doing the right thing going paleo. I would work with your doctor to tinker with thyroid medications/dosages to see what works best

  13. GiGi Eats Celebrities
    July 20, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    I eat 2x a day. Once between 11am & 1pm and the second between 6 & 8pm. This seems to work quite well for me. I eat a lot at both of these meals – and when I say a lot, I mean a lot of protein, which keeps me very full, which is how I can go for so long without eating.

  14. sam
    July 21, 2013 at 9:47 am

    I wish I had seen an article like this a long time ago.

    I think I really screwed myself up by only eating two meals a day over a period of three years. Mostly I was drawn to the convenience (packing a lunch is a pain and lunch spots serve poison), but I also looked good shirtless. Eventually I got bouts of anxiety and insomnia and acne, but was too dumb to put two and two together for quite some time. I am eating four or five meals for the time being and I feel much better, and seem to be sleeping my way out of a big deficit. I was apparently dramatically under-eating on two meals without realizing it. I’m probably eating double the calories I was before but not putting on any weight and I’m still very lean.

    The IF literature and similar advice along the lines that two meals is fine maybe kind of dangerous for certain people. It’s definitely great for fat loss, but I was never fat at all. I was similarly suckered by the low carb advice for a while. I have found I do not do well at all on lowish carb, and develop what I’m guessing is low serotonin.

    • Kevin Cann
      July 21, 2013 at 4:15 pm

      Great example of individual variablility

  15. Chad
    July 23, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Hi Kevin,

    From the reading I gather that there’s an assumption, or proof, that insulin is released at each meal no matter the composition. Does insulin get released when only protien and healthy fats are consumed? I’ve been doing the “bodybuilding” thing for several years and eat between 6 and 7 meals a day and have gotten down to 5% bodyfat levels. I’m always looking for better and healthier alternatives. If I can accomplish the same results with only three meals then that’s great. My concern is also health and don’t want to sacrifice that for vanity. So I guess my question would be does insulin get released at a meal even if its only a protien shake or lean chicken and green beans? It was my understanding that insulin is only released on the presence of carbs and primarily high GI type carbs. Your insight and experience is greatly valued. Thank you.

    • Kevin Cann
      August 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      Rebound effect can be terrible for bodybuilders. My guess is it is due to leptin resistance induced from eating that way.

  16. John
    July 24, 2013 at 3:39 am

    Does coffee with heavy cream break the “fat burning” mode or is that okay?

  17. Dana Kellar
    July 25, 2013 at 11:58 am

    ..in the seventies I read a book called Mucusless Diet Healing System.. by Arnold Ahret.. one of his tenets was to never eat before 10am the next day.. I did not stick to his fruit diet but had my own what I called ‘caveman diet’.. don’t eat anything you could not get directly from nature.. which I lived on for 35 years.. and with the paleo diet I am getting back to it..most importantly was that I stuck to the 16hr fast before my first meal even during bad eating periods.. this worked amazingly well for me with the result that I could not get above 185 or so without a lot of weight-lifting… so I do not disagree with 3 meals but I also think that with added protein.. two meals works really well… for me anyway.. I never felt hungry but then again I was pretty active as well.. great article, I have never read anything like it…everyone is so into the 6+ meals a day which I could never ever do and always seemed to lack common sense, the body needs rest inbetween meals … thanks Kevin

  18. Christian
    August 2, 2013 at 2:51 am

    This may have been answered but I didnt see it. How does the 3 meals work for people who are crossfitting? I can eat breakfast wait 5 hours eat lunch but then I crossfit before dinner. My schedule runs something like this 6-630 breakfast lunch is at noon due to work and then CF by 5 or 6 depending on when I can get there so dinner would be after. Should I just bulk up lunch to get me through beyond 6pm? I am a female by the way.

    I have lost 48 pounds and have been stuck at my current weight for quite a while. I have dropped an additional size lately, but its very slow going VERY VERY slow. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

    • Robb Wolf
      August 3, 2013 at 7:25 am

      That’s largely what I do. If I just feel flat or hungry, I have a snack. Just need to tinker!

  19. Nozi
    August 13, 2013 at 1:56 am

    Thanks for the great article Kevin.
    I was once on the sure-slim diet and they insist on 5hrs break between meals, and I must say it works and thought i lost weight i never maintained it as the meal portions were very small and i was constantly hungry.

  20. Megan
    August 13, 2013 at 3:38 am

    Hi there,

    I have been eating close to a paleo diet for the past couple of months now, due to food intolerances. However, i have a big problem with blood sugar and energy levels. Before starting a mostly paleo diet, i was eating really healthily but i was consuming way too much fructose through fruit. So my blood sugar levels were spiking and dropping relatively quickly. Since consuming more protein, i have noticed slightly longer-lasting energy but i still struggle to maintain it. I get really fatigued, shaky, headaches when my blood sugar is low. I eat every 2-3 hours but i would love to know how i can best maintain my blood sugar and energy levels, and eat every 5 hours? Any suggestions? Thanks

  21. Sara in Brooklyn
    October 11, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I’m curious whether you’d make any changes to these recommendations if fat loss were not a goal. (I know I’m not the only person on earth not worried about weight/fat loss!) In addition to being good/stable in the weight department, I’m kind of on a mission to focus on other health goals/measures, like delayed enfeeblement, reduced inflammation, robust immune response – stuff that’s harder to measure and longer term than weight, I admit! Thanks for thoughts.

  22. Jeff Rothschild
    October 12, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Hi guys, I really enjoyed this article, just wanted to chime in on one small bit…

    “Confining meals to 8 hours a day can lead to undereating. This will initiate gluconeogenesis as well as downregulate our thyroid.”

    Eating in an 8 hour window may lead to undereating and its associated problems, but what is worth mentioning is that if you eat an appropriate amount of calories in that 8 h window, some really good stuff may happen. There are very few human studies currently available but to point out one animal paper using 8 h feeding windows ….. mice consuming food in an 8 h window compared with mice eating throughout the day weighed 28% less and had 49% lower cholesterol, along with improved insulin sensitivity, decreased markers of inflammation, and improved circadian rhythms. (18 weeks, same diet and same amount of food) http://europepmc.org/articles/PMC3491655

    It’s certainly not for everyone, but similar benefits may also be seen from 10 or even 12 hour feeding windows, presuming it’s during the ‘right’ hours (i.e. daytime).

    thanks

  23. julie
    December 15, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Great article. I am wondering…do black coffee, green or herbal teas trigger insulin release? I ‘snack’ on plain green tea frequently between meals and would love to hear your answer. Thanks.

  24. Juantxo
    December 19, 2013 at 5:27 am

    Hi! Thank You for your articles;
    I’m Spanish/Osteopath – Physical Therapist and Clinical PNI practitioner, and I also use (as a basis of my practice) Nutrition & Fitness in an evolutionary approach to my work. [...and as you can imagine, I need to struggle (and research) a lot with this kind of concepts to convince patients and other health professionals, that it's science & it works!]

    I usually recommend to my clients/patients PaleoDiet+IF as the best eating pattern (normally skipping a meal in a 3 meals p/day basis some day/s in a week – ideally 2 meals/day) but not only for the many reasons you wrote above… You’re always talking about Endocrine Function of the Pancreas (Beta cells and Insulin) but pancreas has also a double-function: EXOCRINE Function (Acinar cells and enzymes).

    As long I know, enzymes manufacturing in the pancreas during digestion (…or every time you put “something caloric” inside you!) breaks the gap-junction between A-cells to put some lipases, proteases and amylases in your GI tract. This junction will be restored by some insulin back from the liver to the pancreas (previously released by pancreatic Beta cells) and it takes about 6-8 hours for full restoration of the organ.

    Doesn’t makes sense that eating patterns with less than 6-8 hours between meals don’t allow our pancreas for full restoration? Thank You!!!

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