Once Upon a “Time”
Its not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?
– Henry David Thoreau
In the previous 2 posts we have answered the question How and What. So we now know how to plan our diet well and what is the type of food we can have in our diet. The last and the most important part of the diet plan is the question When. The reason this is most important, we make a lot of excuses for not eating on time. I had a friend in office, who would take a lunch break at the same exact time every day. He would also keep a box of dry fruits to have along with tea at 10:00 am. At that point of time, many of us used to look down upon him. But now, that I am going through this fitness grind, I am realizing how right he was and how very ignorant we were. To understand this let us look at this objectively.
When I began my journey, I used to ensure that I had my breakfast in the morning between 830-9 am. Lunch between 1230-1 pm, evening snack at around 5 pm and Diner at around 8:30 pm. To bring this discipline into place, it took me almost a year. But after a year, I was able to follow this even when I travelled for work. By this time, my mind was trained enough and the body would begin demanding the food at that particular time.
As I advanced the complexity, I changed this to about 5-6 meals in a day. eg. now I have my breakfast at 9:00 am, brunch at 11:30 am, Lunch at 1:30 pm, Light Snack at 3:30 pm, Evening Snack at 5:30 pm and Diner at 7:30 pm. So you see I have spaced the timing by approximately 2 hours. I began this meal plan a couple of months ago. The idea was to finish diner around sunset or just after sunset. While I am still struggling with my diner time, I was able to implement the others well into my schedule.
The timings really vary from person to person, based on your commitments to work and life. But, the point I want to make here is stick to a time and force yourself to have a meal at that time. You will eventually reduce your food intake, train your mind and train your body accordingly. There have been times when I have shut off the camera for my office call, and have had a quick snack. If you decide to follow a timing, there is nothing that can stop you.
Pre / Post Workout Meal
Be sure to include a pre / post workout meal always. Pre-workout meals are needed in order for your body to sail through the workout. To workout efficiently, the body needs energy and a pre-workout meal, provides this energy source. This meal is specially important, if you are working out early in the morning. A breakfast, in real sense means breaking your fast. So while you are sleeping your body is actually fasting. In the morning, if you workout on an empty stomach, it may have negative repercussions for your body. So a light snack can give you that additional boost to workout. But be sure to have a pre-workout meal an hour before workout.
This is exactly opposite for a post workout. Post workout be sure to consume a protien source within 10 minutes of the workout. This period in technical terms is called the “anabolic window”. During this period, the body absorbs this protein properly, which in turn helps the muscles to recover faster and get more stronger. Body builders normally have protein shakes during this anabolic window. Since I am not really into the building part, I normally keep a couple of boiled eggs ready to consume immedeately after the workout.
Time Gap After Diner
Any trainer that you talk to will tell you that you need to space out your dining time and sleeping time. There should be a minimum of 2-2.5 hours gap after you dine and till the time you go to bed. This, is because, the digestion process needs to be almost completed before you go to bed. Once you go to bed, the process slows down, in fact kind of completely stops. This may cause bloating or regular digestion issues. Thus, it is important that you keep that gap. This is the prime reason that I fixed my diner time to 7:30 pm, so that I can be on my bed by 10 pm.
Rest & Recovery
You will be surprised to know that sleep and rest is a part of workout as well. Your body requires adequate time to rest and recover as it requires to exercise. So take rest days and sleep at least 8 hours at a stretch. Some of us, especially people who work in the corporate world, have problems sleeping those 8 hours. Think in this way. All these years, we have trained our body to sleep less. Now, can we not begin by training to sleep that 8 hours? We should. Sleeping 8 hours not only has physical benefits but is also important for mental wellbeing.
On rest days, try and consume lesser calories. e.g on my rest days I normally reduce some portion of my food by may be omitting a snack or reducing a portion in diner. On the rest day, since we are not burning calories, it is important to consume lesser calories as well. The same concept why we should not eat at night.
Intermittent Fasting (IF)
This is the most in thing today. Celebrities both Hollywood and Bollywood, fitness trainers are all vouching for it. There are a couple of variants in IF. The most known one is 16/8 method. Here you eat for 8 hours and fast for 16 hours. eg. you begin eating from 10 am and continue your planned meals till 6 pm and then you do not eat anything solid. Similarly a 5:2 diet is following your regular meals for 5 days of the week and then reduce your calorie intake for 2 days of the week drastically.
While this may work for them, I am not sure if we are disciplined enough to follow this regularly, without giving up. Personally, I have never attempted an IF. The results that I have achieved till date are without IF. But as I slowly move towards the advanced stage, I am not sure, may be I will adopt it some day.
Overall, I think it is all about our attitude and approach. Each of us can find ways and means to either give ourselves excuses or discipline our minds accordingly. So the final decision rests with us.
I hope I have been able to cover all major aspects of the diet plan in the 3 post-series. It is not easy to attain this discipline especially when we need to fight with the most poweful organ of our body, the Brain. But, if you train it slowly, you can achieve the results you wish. Just be cautious to not hurry into it, or starve yourself. Slow and steady always wins the race!
Stay Fit! Stay Healthy!