Do we really need three meals a day?
Are three meals nesseary?
Three meals per day is an assumed necessity, perhaps even with additional snacks to curb the “hangry”. However, this idea is quite a new phenomena, contradicting most of our evolution.
According to some historians, the Romans were accustomed to consuming one large meal per day around noon. Eating large portions of food in the morning or evening was believed to be detrimental to the digestive process and pure gluttony.
In Eastern traditions, those seeking enlightenment strictly adhere to a single meal dietary practice. Meals are eaten before noon, giving the body a 12 hour window of time to allow for thorough digestion. This empowers the liver’s numerous metabolic functions occurring between 1 am – 3am; in accordance with the Chinese body clock ( an ancient observation of the body’s internal organs at peck activity within a rotating two hour time span). It is believed that consuming food in the late evening hours negatively effects liver performance, including the cleansing of the blood.
Nutritional teacher and researcher Paul Pitchford comments on eating one meal per day stating, “It illustrates two central ideas: one that eating late at night can cause the liver and its subtle metabolic processes to work less efficiently: and two, that with less food one generally has more energy, greater clarity, and a need for far less sleep.
They Only Sleep For Three Hours...
Unsplash photo by: Victoria Shes
it is fascinating that many yogis and gurus only require around three hours of sleep from midnight to three A.M; in which they arise to begin their meditation and breathing exercises. Interestingly, for many adhering to this lifestyle claim that maintaining the single meal dietary practice allows the body to spend less energy dealing with the burden of digestion providing the senses with heightened vitality and awareness.
However, consuming food once per day is not practical or even optimal for the most individuals living in our modern society. In the wake of the Industrial Revolution, it became a necessity to eat with continued frequency due to the long gruelling working hours. As electricity became a household staple, our main meal ( which previously was eaten mid-day) gradually become an evening affair.
16:8 - Intermittent Fasting
There is a growing movement advocating the benefits of consuming two-meals per day, also known as intermittent fasting. The 16:8 allows for 16 hours in which the body remains in a fasted state, breaking the fast usually around noon and eating one’s last meal around 7 pm.
Contrary to the breakfast marketing campaigns, eating sugary carbohydrate foods in the morning not only generates a large spike in blood sugar levels; it also can elevate cortisol levels in the blood leading to insulin resistance and other diseases.
For thousands of years those following Eastern health traditions begin their day around 3 am eating their first meal anywhere between 7 – 9 Am and their second meal around 3-5 pm. It is believed that the quantity of the first meal should be large and very hydrating. A second smaller meal is consumed late afternoon containing cooked root veg and protein rich sources.
Our hunter gather ancestors would have most likely eaten in a sporadic seasonal way, enjoying the harvests as well as surviving the fasts. Excess can be as toxic as deficiency, our goal is to find the balance, that sweet spot in-between.