Eating every 2-3 hours:
We’ve all heard the trusted adage that you need to eat small meals every few hours in order to get the metabolism going. This has been demonstrated to be patently false. The total amount of calories consumed dictates the metabolic impact of the food you eat and the thermic effect of food is typically around 10% for a protein-based or mixed meal.
You will not burn more calories eating 6 meals per day versus 3 meals per day provided calories are the same. However, if fat loss is the goal then eating every few hours increases the likelihood of overconsumption. We are all terrible at estimating our food intakes but if we eat only 3 meals per day then we have 3 occasions to be inaccurate, eat 6 meals per day and the opportunity for inaccuracy doubles.
Allowing time between meals is beneficial in a number of ways and can help too.
2. Overeating Healthy Fats/ Protein/ Vegan Food:
If you’re following an exclusionary diet- one where the central premise is to avoid a certain food or food group- it is easy to fall into the trap of over eating the foods you are allowed to eat.
Paleo diet overeating pattern:
Month 1: Meat and Veggies- hard to overeat- calorie deficit achieved, good weight loss and health benefits
Month 2: Addition of Paleo treats- harder to maintain a calorie deficit as calorie dense nut flours are added to the diet.
Month 3: Paleo baking extravaganza- like regular baking except none of that pesky gluten and dairy- although nut flours contain twice as many calories as regular flour. Calorie surplus hit. Weight gain ensues.
This same pattern is observed across a variety of diets- most start off well as we are limited in our food choices and we aren’t creative or well versed enough to create hyperpalatable diet compliant “treats”.
For Veganism this is a particular problem, there is so much propaganda about the health benefits of a vegan diet that many people just assume that not eating animal products is the important factor versus that consumption of actual vegetables and fruits.
The list of hyperpalatable, calorie-dense and non satiating vegan foods is long and distinguished. This makes it perfectly feasible to be a card carrying vegan and consume an awful diet.
3. Training your legs too hard can sabotage fat loss
Training your legs hard is a badge of honour. It separates you from the preening peacocks who only train chest and guns. How could smashing your leg workout be detrimental to your fat loss efforts?
Here is what I typically see- people who train legs really hard often only train legs 1x per week. They smash the legs with all of their might and are invariably sore for days afterwards, this crippling DOMs interferes with their day to day existence. They can’t walk upstairs, standing up from the toilet is hard.
A lot of calories have no doubt been burned during the training, a lot will be put to use in the recovery process but how many calories will not be burned as a result of the soreness?
If training your legs like a maniac is having a large impact on your NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) then you might want to reconsider your strategy and ask yourself if it is taking you closer to your goals.
1x per week crazy legs training:
- Massive soreness
- Little progressive overload week to week
- No inclination to do cardio
- Reduction in daily activity
- Mentally hard to commit to, the likelihood you’ll skip the next workout.
I’m not advocating ignoring training legs- there are massive benefits to training legs regularly and hard. However, I would advise splitting the total weekly volume (number of sets for simplicity’s sake) between 2-3 workouts rather than having one day focussed on legs entirely.
For more sustained progress:
2-3 x per week lower body training:
- Less soreness and muscle damage
- Higher mechanical tension placed on the muscle each workout
- Better quality movement patterns reinforced
- More of a positive metabolic impact
- Doesn’t matter if you miss a workout, just carry on next time as usual.