The Meal Fallacy. Part II

02 Apr The Meal Fallacy. Part II

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“Survival required the capacity to withstand prolonged periods of deprivation in order to hunt, or escape if preyed upon.” – George F. Cahill and Oliver E. Owen.

I bet you all lost a lot of sleep this week counting down for part two. I certainly left you all on a cliff-hanger. And for that, I apologise.

So we covered the thermic effect of food (TEF) and how it relates to each food we consume (remember, around 9-10%) last week. We also covered that when it comes to “stoking” your metabolism, it really is a bunch of baloney.

If you did happen to missed part one (I’m actually slightly offended), hit this linkage righttt here –> to get yourself up to speed.

Okay, now that we’re all on the same page, clear your mind and let’s dive back into the fallacy of the meal conundrum.



Sorry, not gremlins! GHRELIN is what I was trying to say. Well, we could say gremlins if we were talking about the little voices in our heads, but let’s keep the crazy talk for another time.

A question that gets asked when the information and evidence is revealed to someone about all of this is: “why do I in fact feel super hungry every 2-3 hours then!?”

The short answer is routine.

The long answer is…

This ghrelin we’re talking about is this hormone that lives inside of us. Its classic functions are its stimulatory effects on our growth hormone release, food intake and even fat deposition [14-16].

Most commonly, it is known as the hunger hormone.

Anyway, this hunger hormone is a pretty nice guy. He’s happy most of the time and likes to actually learn when and how often we typically like to consume foods (what a creep, right?).

After a while, he gets used to our routine.

Once this occurs, he realizes that this is the time of day and frequency of meals that we like to consume and goes ahead and locks it into his diary.

So now, every day around the same time, he gives our brain a quick call and notifies it that we’re “hungry” and without any discrimination of whether we choose to eat every 2-3 hours, or only twice in a 24 hour period.

Okay now that we’ve covered the “stoking the metabolic fire” and the “control your hunger and appetite by eating smaller meals” topics. What’s next?

Metabolic rate.

Does our metabolic rate (MR) ACTUALLY slow down if we miss, skip or literally don’t consume for a certain amount of time? What about when we’re asleep – should we hook up an IV drip filled with the “perfect” 30g of protein and set it to seep into our bodies in 2 hour intervals?


Well, what’s interesting to note is that not eating consistently/frequently has actually been shown to INCREASE our resting metabolic rates. With it only starting to decrease after 3 or more days of us being in a COMPLETELY fasted state (ie. no food whatsoever) [17-19].

And when you think about it, it makes sense. The fact that we had to hunt for food to survive back in the day surely is a perfect example of when being stimulated and in more of an awareness state of being would actually pay off.

I mean, I’m sure we wouldn’t of downed a protein shake before chasing down that woolly mammoth, right?

And it WOULD be kinda shit if our MR suddenly decimated as soon as we missed a meal, right?

Surviving on empty.

In one study, for up to three quarters of a year (around 270 days) with absolutely NO caloric intake, obese individuals were shown to survive [20]. And with an adequate water supply, non-obese individuals were shown to survive for around 2-3 months.

This even gives rise to another fact regarding our brains. Surprisingly, it has been shown that without a constant intake of nutrients, our brains are known to actually function better [21].

“Wait, let me get this straight. We run better on empty, and we don’t actually NEED to keep pumping nutrients into our systems to keep our MR’s functioning and/or to speed it up?”

That’s right, Timmy. But now let me ask you a question.


Would that steak and vege meal you consumed 3 hours ago REALLY be digested in time for your next?


I’ve talked about the length of time foods stay in your system before, but we better go further in depth this time ‘round.

So with all the macronutrients responding differently and digesting at different speeds within our body, and the fact that most foods are made up of a combination of them, it definitely makes it difficult to give exacts on how fast they absorb and digest [22-24].

Not to mention, everybody’s body being completely different (to an extent) inside, and factors like exercising or not can play a role in digestion rates too.

But either way, let’s now introduce a (possibly tastier than last weeks) meal consisting of 37g of protein, 17g of fats and 75g of carbs in the form of a pizza.

Pizza is sometimes thought of this crappy meal, with a crappy appetite and satiety levels effect, right?


Well, given that, one study actually showed that even after 5 hours, it STILL was not completely broken down in any of the 11 healthy males that participated.

Yep that’s right, FIVE hours [25]. Pretty crazy, right?

Now imagine replacing that pizza for a meal consisting of a steak, potato and vege combination with double the protein, double the fats, and hell, even double the carbs.

We’d EASILY be talking 7+ hours.

So then, what does matter when trying to lose/gain weight?

Overall consumption.

It seems that all that matters is your ENTIRE intake, and NOT the frequency of intake over the course of the day, or even week [26].

If you prefer to consume every 2 hours, that’s cool. But it’s also okay if you rock a once every 5 hours approach too.

And like I said last week, if your goal is in fact to lose weight, consuming a more fulfilling meal 2-3 times a day surely is a better option than consuming one every 2 hours.

But if not, hopefully you’ve kept an open mind when reading this and you now have the knowledge to not freak-out or buy into the “eating every 2-3 hours spikes your metabolism and gets you shredded, bro” mentality.

Any questions, post ‘em below.


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Hayden Perno
Hayden Perno