How-To: Meal Timing and Healthy Habits

How-To: Meal Timing and Healthy Habits

On Friday I talked about how often I eat and how I am sticking solely to the Paleo diet, but I really didn’t give you guys much detail on how I go about it.

This past weekend, I got a text from Bonnie (my wonderful sister-in-law, who, by the way, is an excellent baker and blogger – Check her out!) asking me a couple of questions about my meal plan. She thought it might be interesting to share the information on a blog post for all of you to see! Brilliant idea. Thanks Bon :).

I want you all to understand my reasoning behind eating so often, why I eat certain types of food, how I go about portioning my foods and what techniques I use to prepare my meals. I’ve created this ‘How-To: Meal Timing and Healthy Habits’ post, for that reason.

Eating two to three times a day may seem a bit overwhelming at the beginning, because to be honest, it sort of is a lot of work. Preparing and cooking all your foods ahead of time, making time to eat all your meals on schedule and going through food like you’re living with a growing teenager, is definitely an adjustment. But you know what? It is SO worth it!

Some people that hear I eat 5 meals a day say things like “it’s way too much food”, or “…but I just need to eat less, not more, because I’m trying to lose weight”. Don’t think this way, as it doesn’t quite work like that. Most importantly, eating 5-6 meals a day WILL NOT get you fat; quite the opposite in fact. If you do your portion sizes right, and if you’re only eating clean/wholesome foods, you’ll soon see that it’s THE best way to eat.

Your body will get used to eating 5-6 meals a day and you will actually look forward to eating your next meal.  My body needs its fuel and I am not shy about providing it with what it needs.

There are many reasons why it’s ideal to eat every 2-3 hours. Here are some:

  • It’s easier for the body to digest smaller portions of food that are consumed more regularly.
  • You will have a continuous source of energy, which can help avoid “crashes”.
  • Food can be a body’s internal thermo genic (clean foods), so when feeding it often you’re creating your own “fat burning furnace”. Think of your body as a fire and the food as your wood, if you keep on giving the furnace, wood, it will keep burning (in your case, it’ll keep burning those calories/fats).
  • Eating frequently can help you avoid “cheat” cravings like quick digesting sugars and carbohydrates. Cravings can be fatal…especially in those moments when you haven’t eaten in long periods of time and all you crave/want is a big bowl of ice cream or cake. Eating often will avoid these massive cravings and keep you in check.

With all that being said, it is important you remain active and keep healthy in other ways as well:

  • Make sure you do at least 30 minutes of physical activity; weather that be walking, running, biking, swimming, dancing, etc. You can get really creative here. [If you add weight lifting to the mix, then kudos to you! If done correctly, you can slowly shape your body with added muscle tone.]
  • Make sure you get your 7-8 hours of sleep.
  • Make sure you socialize and keep strong friendships and family bonds, which are also a very important part of being a healthy person.
  • Make sure you take time for yourself and treat yourself once in a while (going to get a pedicure or a massage can’t hurt).
  • Keep calm, read, pray and meditate.

Next, let’s talk about the reasons why your body needs certain foods.

Have you ever heard of the term “Macronutrients”? If you have, great! If you haven’t, well, let me introduce you to it. Macronutrients are nutrients that provide the body with calories or energy. They are needed for growth, proper body function, and for a healthy metabolism. The “macro” part means large, which tells us we need large amounts of these. There are three categories of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins & fats. Let’s look at each one in more detail.

  1. Carbohydrates (with Paleo, you will be consuming fibrous carbohydrates):

Your body needs these for intestinal health, for waste elimination, for energy, for your central nervous system/kidneys/brain/muscles to function properly. Fibrous carbohydrates, such as vegetables, contain essential    vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants that our bodies need to function properly. Try varying the type of vegetables you consume, so that you give your body a variety of nutrients; sweet potatoes are included in this category!

  1. Proteins:

Protein helps maintain healthy muscles! When working out, proteins are necessary for recovery; they also help build skin, hair, nail and cartilage. Protein helps us fight illnesses and keep the immune system functioning properly. It provides the body with great energy during the day and helps to avoid fatigue.

  1. Fats:

Your body needs healthy fats to help you protect your organs, absorb vitamins and for hormone production. Healthy fats are key. Do not be afraid to eat them. They’re actually your friend. Healthy fats include things like nuts, nut butters, nut oils, olive oil, seed oils, seed butters, avocado, and protein fats (from chicken, pork, beef, etc.).

Let’s cover some basics…

A.  Tips for you:

  • Eat first meal within an hour of waking.
  • Plan ahead! Designate a food preparation day (mine is Sunday).
  • Measure your food portions by comparing it to the size of your fist (examples: 1 fist size of protein, 1 fist size of vegetables, 1 fist size of sweet potatoes).
  • Eat every three hours (usually 5 or 6 times a day, depending on when you wake up)! It’s the secret to speeding up your metabolism. Be on time!  Set your phone alarm if you have to!
  • Drink lots of water! You can have coffee & tea as well.
  • Take a daily multivitamin. If lifting weights, you may want to add a calcium supplement.
  • Take one tablespoon of Fish Oil daily. Fish oil aids in weight loss and encourages healthy bowel movements.
  • Consistency is key! If you have a day where you slip up … don’t give up! Start fresh at your next meal or the next day.

B. Template of what your meals should look like:

Meal 1

–       fist size of protein

–       fist size of vegetables (I like to also include a slow digestive fibrous carbohydrate here, such as a sweet potato…reason being, that I workout right after my 1st meal and its nice to have the extra boost of energy)

Meal 2

–       fist size of protein

–       fist size of vegetables

Meal 3

–       fist size of protein

–       fist size of vegetables

–       1 portion of healthy fats (see example in section “C”)

Meal 4

–       fist size of protein

–       fist size of vegetables

Meal 5

–       fist size of protein

–       fist size of vegetables

–       ½ portion of healthy fats (see example in section “C”)

Meal 6

–       Meal replacement Casein shake

C. Example of what my meals look like (using template above):

Meal 1

–       Egg white scramble: 5 egg whites, ½ zucchini, 1 handful of spinach, ¼ bell pepper and ¼ of an avocado (use coconut oil spray)

–       ½ sweet potato

–       Coffee with 1 tablespoon of almond milk

Meal 2

–       Paleo Grilled chicken breast, cut into small squares

–       1- 1½ cup of mixed veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots)

–       Sriracha sauce

Meal 3

–       1 Paleo Almond flour waffle (with 2 tablespoons of your preferred nut butter spread)

–       Egg white scramble: 5 egg whites, ½ zucchini, ½ cup broccoli, ¼ onion and ¼ of an avocado (using coconut oil spray)

–       Coffee with 1 tablespoon of almond milk

Meal 4

–       Greens salad (1-1 ½ cup of greens + ¼ of yellow bell pepper + a few walnuts + ¼ avocado + olive oil/balsamic vinegar to taste) with Paleo Grilled chicken breast cut into small squares

Meal 5

–       Paleo Bison burgers (fist size amount)

–       1 cup of mixed veggies

–       ¼ – ½ cup of trail mix (I mix raw nuts: walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc.)

Meal 6

–       Casein Protein Shake (1 scoop mixed with water)

* You can sub any of these proteins and any of these vegetables with ones you prefer. The principle here is having a fist size amount of protein/veggies with every single meal (except on your last meal when you’re drinking your casein shake before bed…which is awesome because it releases protein continuously during your sleep and keeps your muscles fed throughout the night).

* Don’t forget to switch things up and vary your proteins and vegetables, that way you are giving your body multiple types of nutrients and minerals.

D. Preparation techniques:

– It’s best if your proteins are grilled, broiled or baked, but its ok for you to slightly fry your proteins with some coconut oil once in a while.

– Vegetables should be either eaten raw, grilled or steamed so that they keep all their nutritious properties. [Bake your sweet potatoes. I will sometimes cut them into small sticks or thin slices to make French fries & chips. I love eating those like that!]

– You can get creative with your fats; you can eat them in baked form when using almond flour or nut butters (waffles, muffins, cookies, pancakes, etc.), on salads (spreading oils as dressing), while cooking (using oils to fry), raw (eating trail mix), etc. Possibilities are endless here. Just be sure to watch your daily fat intake closely!

Hope this helps you guys. Please let me know if you have further questions and I’ll do my best answering those!

Meal Timing and Healthy Habits

17 thoughts on “How-To: Meal Timing and Healthy Habits”

  1. Thank you SO MUCH!! This is a library of information!! I GREATLY appreciate it!!! Seriously you are so smart, I appreciate you sharing your knowledge so much! THANK YOU!

    1. Bon, you’re so sweet…and you are so welcome! I had fun putting it together. It was all your idea and I am super glad/thankful you suggested it!

  2. Thank you for posting this!! Would you consider doing a “day of” eats including photos of your meals? It’s very inspirational 🙂

    1. Jessica! Great idea…in fact, I will be featured soon on with two full days of recommended Paleo Diet meals (with full recipes and photos). I’ll send the link over as soon as it’s out!

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I have a large family (4 kids 18 – 11) and hubby and I. I make everything from scratch but it is still so expensive. I have enjoyed your posts on nut butters and have found a bulk supplier here in South Africa…thanks for your hints and tips!

    1. It is my pleasure, Wendy! Happy to know my little recipes and guides are helping you and your family. 🙂
      That’s great you’ve found a bulk supplier in South Africa, score! South Africa is close to my heart, because my dad got his masters degree over there and he has nothing but wonderful stories to tell and photos to share. What a BEAUTIFUL country it is!

    1. Hey Joanne! Thanks for your comment. 🙂
      I usually have a serving of berries or grapes in the morning, and will have a banana around noon (after working out). There are some days, however, that I feel like adding a little more fruit to my diet, so I will allow myself some in my salads or after dinner! I just listen to my body. 🙂 Hope this helps!

  4. Hi Mariel,
    I noticed you said you work out right after you eat in the morning. Just wondering if you allow any time for meal one to digest first as I had always thought working out on a super full stomach wasn’t good. However that being said I have a really hard time working out first thing with no food first I just don’t have the energy. One more question : did you notice more muscle gains once you added more protein and meals. I have a girlfriend who seems to put on muscle with out really paying much attention to her protein intake or eating more often. I however seem to gain mini muscles if any and we work out together. Just wondering if some people have an easier time putting on muscle because of their particular body make up.
    Very frustration for me!!! Thanks Love your blog

    1. Hi there Sydney!
      Thanks for your questions. 🙂
      I usually go to the gym around 30 minutes to an hour after eating my breakfast. Because you’re right, working out with a full stomach is not ideal…it could even make you a little sick. :/ My breakfasts are not too big either, so that helps (I don’t have to wait for a ton of food to digest!)
      I saw more muscle gain with the added protein, yes. Try adding maybe a bit more protein to your diet and see how your body reacts to that. Everyone is a little different, so it’s all about trial and error. Have fun working out!

  5. Hi Mariel,
    This information is very helpful as I just started weight lifting and want to speed up my metabolism.
    Based off your meal plan for each meal, I just had a question about where things like paleo muffins or breads fit in? Like what category – carbs, fats, protiens? I know that seems silly, but it is not all that obvious to me. Do you think these kinds of paleo baked goods are ok to eat daily or just every once in awhile. For example, if I make a batch of paleo muffins, is it ok if I eat one every day at breakfast or even as a snack?

    1. Hi Amanda! 🙂 I usually have a Paleo treat (muffin, waffle, etc.) once or twice a week. They do contain sugar (from honey or maple syrup) and they typically have a higher fat content (from nuts, coconut, etc.)…so having them in moderation is key! I think that having a simple daily treat like this one ( or a nice fruit bowl, is great, as it keeps keeps you satisfied and keeps your cravings down to a minimum. Bets of luck with your fitness goals!!!! XOXO

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