Mastering Strategic Meal Timing

Are you tired of feeling sluggish and constantly battling food cravings? Perhaps you're lacking a strategy as to not just what you eat, but when you eat it. In this episode, we discuss the importance of meal timing.

Waiting to eat
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Crystal O’Keefe: Welcome to the MetPro Method Podcast. I am your host, Crystal O’Keefe, and today I am joined by two MetPro coaches, Jessee Davis and Kim Ancira. And today we’re going to be discussing the importance of meal timing. Jessee and Kim, thank you so much for being here today.

I feel like this is a super important topic because we are constantly coaching people and telling them to do certain things. And I think there’s a lot of questions around why. So for people who may not be familiar with our service, we often are asking people to eat five, maybe even six meals a day, depending on if they’re an athlete and what their schedule looks like. But I think both of you guys would recognize that we’re raised to eat three meals a day.

Like in the history of time, most of us in our generations have been told to eat three square meals a day. So why is it that MetPro recommends five?

Jessee Davis: You want to take this one, Kim?

Kim Ancira: Well, five meals a day, it is like five meals. They’re kind of like three meals and two snacks. So we call the other ones their snacks, but they’re like mini meals, but it is really important to fuel our bodies every two to three hours so that it can help regulate our blood sugar levels and be awake when we are awake.

So, we want to make sure our body is regulated while we are up and moving to give us ample energy and basically to stabilize our blood sugar levels. There’s a metabolic adaptation that happens. So we want to make sure we are creating that environment, especially when you’re looking for body composition change.

So, when you are reducing your intake, your body can adapt to that as well. We want things to improve energy wise, then we also want to make sure we are fueling our bodies for that.

Crystal O’Keefe: Okay, and so when it comes to different meal timing, I always hear that breakfast is the most important part of the day.

Why is eating breakfast so important?

Jessee Davis: Yeah, we got to kickstart that metabolism, you got to get that car going. I like to say it’s like you’re warming up the car in the morning. If you haven’t turned the car on, how is it going to start burning that fuel?

Crystal O’Keefe: So okay, it’s not just to fit time. It’s not just to fit it in. You’re saying that like our body responds when we eat breakfast.

Jessee Davis: Yeah. If you think about it, like our body naturally goes into a fasting state as we get ready for bed. So our body’s changing its hormone responses and it’s changing what it’s doing because it’s getting ready to sleep, getting ready to restore itself.

So as soon as you wake up, well, it’s no longer the priority, now the priority is to give your body energy, give it fuel, give it what it needs so that it can have a great day. And so if we prolong that and we don’t eat it until noon, well, you just lost an optimal time of your day to burn extra calories by turning that metabolism on just a little bit sooner in your day.

Kim Ancira: Exactly. It’s less likely to conserve energy. The more you are providing energy, it has to increase its metabolic rate. And so it’s less likely to enter a mode where it conserves energy and slows down.

Crystal O’Keefe: Okay, so you’re saying that if we eat food first thing in the morning, we’re actually encouraging our body to burn energy, to burn faster than if we did not eat, even though that’s completely counterintuitive, right?

It should be the opposite.

Jessee Davis: Exactly, exactly. And I want to make sure that we touch on the point that consistency is key. I feel like that’s what you say at the end of your podcast. Like, as soon as I said it, I was like, Oh, she says that at the end of every podcast.

Anyways, but it’s so true. And when it comes to your eating, I want to take the five meals, the four meals, the three meals, because everyone really does have a very unique schedule. And I’ll take my doctors. I’ll take my people that are in court all day. Right. I mean, there are certain occupations where you just physically can’t get out of the operating room to have your snack.

You cannot go and do those three hour meal timings like we suggest for the optimal health, right? And so I think the most important things, no matter where you’re at, no matter what lifestyle you have, or. What work style you have, the more consistency you can get with your timing of that breakfast is so key because the more your body knows what to expect, the easier it’s going to respond if it’s always guessing.

And it’s like, Oh, I’m getting breakfast at six. Oh, now I’m getting breakfast at nine. Oh, now I’m getting breakfast at two. Right? It’s just never going to be able to thrive, right?

Kim Ancira: Yeah. And back on that point that our bodies run on hormones, basically. And so hormonal regulation is behind all of this. So like Jessee saying, wake up, create that pattern for the day and try to stick to the same eating times because that’s going to help with hormonal regulation to through the day.For your hunger hormones and your appetite, right? All of that is behind that. So we want to make sure we’re regulating those. 

And how does your body make those? Well, it’s through the nutrients that you actually put into your body. So you’re jump starting that first thing in the morning by having a well balanced breakfast so that your body can get to do what it’s doing through the day more efficiently and effectively and optimize all of the hormones that your body needs to make through the day, right?

Crystal O’Keefe: You’re saying that if you, if you, especially if a person can only have three meals a day, that meal timing, what time you eat those meals consistently, is also important. And that between, regardless of how many times a day you eat, that those nutrients kick off the hormonal responses that allow our body to be able to do all of its metabolic processes.

Is that what I’m hearing? 

Jessee Davis: Absolutely. Yeah. Literally putting fuel in the tank.That’s exactly what it is. Log on the fire. Your body can’t burn what it doesn’t have. And we’re really, we’re training it. We’re training it to burn more. And that’s why we want to continue to eat.

Now for those clients that do struggle and we only have three meals to work with versus four or five or six, it just means that we have to be more diligent and we have to be more mindful in those actual meals because the big picture is it’s all about contrast. You’ll see, you’ll hear almost every single coach and say that every week, every day.

We’re looking for contrast. So no matter what you’re giving yourself as a coach, we’re trying to analyze what is your body using for fuel? How can we create contrast to reach your goal? Is your goal performance is your goal fat loss is your goal maintenance, right? And then are we fueling to create the contrast we need to get to that goal faster and optimally.

And all that stuff. So I would say the smaller the meals, the more frequent the meals, the easier it’s going to be, the faster you’re going to get to your goals. If you’re stuck with three meals a day versus five meals a day, that doesn’t mean you can’t reach your goals. It just means you’re going to have to be a little bit more diligent on those meals.

Keep them again, a little bit more consistent with the timing. I have clients I would say that have all sorts of walks of life. Everyone sees that success that their body is capable of given their lifestyle. Right.

Crystal O’Keefe: Yeah. So, can you guys talk to me about like if, if you are a person who can only eat three meals a day because of profession or whatever is in your life that keeps you from doing that when you say be more consistent and about those meal times.

Would it make sense for that person to take the recommended snacks that we have and add them into their meals? Would that be a strategy or are there different strategies that you recommend?

Jessee Davis: It’s probably different strategies I would imagine all of us coaches have. Kim, what would you do? What comes to your mind if you have a client like that?

Kim Ancira: Well, it depends on the person’s size, performance goals. Like you’re saying, there’s so many variables that you have to look at because I mean, the number one thing, like we’ve just said, is blood sugar stability. So we want to make sure whatever that volume is, it’s going to maintain them well enough for the next meal or if there’s only three, that’s going to be a hard thing to do.

So usually we don’t recommend having three. If we can get one more in, that would be even better. That fourth one, just even a little snack to help prolong because it’s when you look at your wake time it’s going to be really hard timing wise to get it all together without blood sugar dips.

And you really want to make sure that you can. Optimize that first. And if you can, by creating a load at breakfast, lunch and dinner that works for the person okay. But if we’re finding there’s energy dips, we’re having mood instability, other symptoms are popping up. You definitely want to reevaluate that.

Jessee Davis: Yeah. I was actually just thinking as you were talking about how fast people eat their meals. So I would, I’m just like thinking if I have a client who is only eating three meals a day, I sure hope they’re taking a half hour to eat that food. I sure hope they are allowing their body really that time to have all those calories, all those macros, because if you wolf it down in five minutes and then you’re not eating again until another five hours, your body’s in chaos mode.

Kim Ancira: Yeah. It’s just, it’s hard logistically, right, to even fit all that into three.

Jessee Davis: So yeah. Yeah. And I guess really to answer your question, Crystal, more specifically, you don’t want to lump your food together if you’ve missed something. So this is me. I’m just thinking of like all clients because they’re supposed to get a morning snack or they’re supposed to get an afternoon snack and they skip it.

I don’t necessarily want them adding that to their dinner. So if I have a client who’s doing three meals a day. I would look at those three meals, but I wouldn’t necessarily say, Oh, yeah, just go ahead and add your snack to your lunch, for example, because that might be too much protein for them if they don’t need a bunch of protein, right?

Or if you’re on a cut and they’re now getting those carbs in there’s kind of like a few different things that we’re going to be looking at. If you are feeling with three meals, four meals or five meals, because you got to make sure it’s balanced. I like to tell people, especially most clients that come to us, they haven’t ate all day and then they eat a meal at dinnertime.

That’s 1500 calories. Oh yeah. I eat 1500 calories a day. Like, Oh man, your body is only using probably 500 calories of that. Like no matter how much you sit in one sitting, it’s not going to, it’s not going to be able to. How many calories did you eat Mark? It’s going to use the exact same amount of fuel that it needed, and it’s going to store the rest. But that’s why our meals are just just enough to last you three hours.

Crystal O’Keefe: Right. So one of the things that I like to tell people to do if they’re having meetings. Let’s just say or maybe it’s somebody that can’t eat in front of their clients things like that. I like to suggest my favorite snack, which I bet you guys used to which is the applesauce packet and the almond butter packet and then I Squeeze down the almond butter like it’s a ketchup packet and wash it down with the applesauce because you can do that in a few seconds like it doesn’t, it does not require a whole like I need a 15 minute break to go do this like you can be done very quickly.

Are there other quick snacks that you guys can think of that people might be able to down quickly on a hectic day where they can’t eat in front of other people? Because I’ve been in meetings like that, that are four hours long, and you are not allowed to eat in front of other people. It’s super awkward and weird.

Jessee Davis: Someday when we can change the culture, that’ll be our primary goal. But for now, how does it without them knowing? I just like smoothies. Cause I feel like if you take a water bottle into a meeting, you know it’s gonna be a long meeting. You guys know you’ve got a lot going on. Who’s gonna stop you from drinking out of your drink?

It’s like they don’t know what’s in there. So it kind of depends on the situation, right? So if I know I have clients that are in meetings all day and they miss their lunch because they’re in meetings, or maybe it’s a meeting and they’re hosting lunch and you’re just like, yeah, I know it’s just sandwiches and my clients on a cut or whatever.

So I like to make smoothies. That way they can just drink their meal and it’s really easy.

Kim Ancira: Totally. That’s an easy one. That’s a good one. I like the applesauce packets. Like you said, there’s the almond butter packs too. The little single serving ones. I think that’s the easiest when you’re around people is to do a smoothie or like.

A protein bar that’s a balanced macro whole food bar that is simple at least, right? It’s like, okay, it’s not messy, just something small. Get something in. Yeah.

Jessee Davis: Those are all, and I’m gonna just do like a shout out to all you people that host the meetings. If you’re watching and listening to our podcast, how about we like, bring some apples in, or bring some grapes in, and then have some of those applesauce pouches that we are talking about.

Crystal O’Keefe: Yeah, yeah, like in all seriousness, change that culture, like be the culture setter, say that this is okay and this is acceptable. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve worked in corporations where we had sales presentations and we even if you were running the meeting, it was like you had people in and they were big and fancy and you weren’t allowed to do that.

So, there are exceptions to every rule, but I agree with Jessee where you can include people and make it comfortable for people to have food, healthy food.

Jessee Davis: I mean, just like imagine I would be super stoked if I came into a meeting and I saw there was a little snack for me, obviously not a donut.

Kim Ancira: Everybody would be so much happier during the meeting, too.

Crystal O’Keefe: And, you know what, you bring up such a good point because like so many meetings that do include food, it is things that are really high in sugar. Okay, so let’s go back to that sugar, the blood sugar level conversation.

What happens to your body if it spikes or dips? Like what are the responses our body is having when that occurs?

Kim Ancira: Yeah, when it spikes, our body releases a lot of insulin to help reduce and shuttle that glucose into ourselves and stores it all uses the energy or it will store whatever it doesn’t need for later.

And so there’s a lot that can happen on both spectrums. So, when you have low blood sugar levels, then your body starts to release glucagon or glucagon stimulates the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream to raise our blood sugar levels. So there’s a lot of these ups and downs that can happen in the day when you don’t regulate your intake to keep your blood sugar more even.

And so that either will start to have you conserve energy. Or can cause appetite and hormonal imbalances, which may cause cravings and mood swings and all those fun things, too. So just energy. So if you’re expecting to have good energy overall, the best way is to keep your intake pretty stable through the day, eating every three hours.

That timing is so important. Otherwise, you can’t expect to have good, solid energy. through the day.

Jessee Davis: Okay. I love it. And I will have to tell you, I have a brand new client just had her first call with her yesterday and she said, “Would I notice a spike in my energy just from one day of eating?” Yes, you would. Absolutely would.

It was just so amazing how her body, as soon as you give it what it actually needs, it’s like, Oh, thank you so much. I feel so better. I feel so much better. Yeah. So. Immediately upon eating and stabilizing that blood sugar, you will feel better. It’s not something you have to work weeks at, unlike fat loss.

Crystal O’Keefe: Exactly. So if I’m hearing you guys correctly, that stabilizing of the blood sugar, the eating every two to three hours, it’s going to make our mood swings less. So we may not, but it also will. It will keep our energy swings from being less so that like three o’clock slump that you might have. It’s like you get really exhausted after you had lunch and maybe a little sweet treat afterwards.

That’s what causes you to get tired. Is that what you’re saying?

Jessee Davis: Yeah, your, your energy is dropping because your blood sugar is dropping. So spike it up by eating some food and having a balanced snack.

Crystal O’Keefe: Yes, yes. I mean, I do. Just so you guys know, I do know that. I was just teaming that up.

Jessee Davis: She is the worst coach ever.

Crystal O’Keefe: All right. What did we miss? What else do people need to know about mealtimes eating, whether they’re eating three, four or five, six times a day or. anything about blood sugar that we didn’t cover. You guys want to make sure listeners know.

Jessee Davis: I just want to really reiterate that whenever you’re awake, you should be fueling your body.

And when you’re sleeping, your body is restoring. I’m thinking of the knock shift workers. I’m thinking of nurses, like just if you’re up for 12 hours, 14 hours on your feet all day long, you need more fuel. You need six or seven meals, right? Little snacks. If you’re like, Oh, I’m retired and I sleep in and I don’t wake up till nine.

And then I’m in bed by eight, like a wonderful, retired lifestyle. You probably are fine with three meals. So it just kind of depends on what your body needs. But if you’re not hungry, your metabolism is broken. Can I say that? So if you’re going and you’re like, I don’t need to eat because I’m not hungry, that’s not a good thing.

That does not mean your body’s thriving or burning a ton of calories. It means that it’s in hibernation and you got to turn it on. If you’re hungry, that’s a good thing. Eat. If you’re not hungry, eat cause then you’ll be hungry.

Crystal O’Keefe: Yeah, I think that’s a really important point, as you should definitely be listening to your hunger cues, but if you’re not having appropriate hunger cues because your metabolism is not functioning correctly, then you’re listening to inaccurate information.

Jessee Davis: Exactly.

Kim Ancira: I think as we age over time and not focus on meal timing, a lot of my clients come in not having breakfast. They’re like, I’m just not hungry for breakfast. I’m like, well, we’re going to start with that pattern of bringing something in and over time it will improve. I guarantee it. And then after a couple of weeks, here they are, they’re like, Starving when they wake up and they’re like, I never knew.

I’m like, we’re just recreating those hormonal shifts in the day. And your body will really start to line up. with that. So just starting with something little will start to promote that response in the body. And like Jessee said, the wake sleep cycle is so important. We need when we’re awake, we need to be feeling our body.

And then we taper in the evening so that that is the fasting period, right? Where we don’t, we don’t need to intermittent fast during the day when we actually need the energy because otherwise your body will conserve that energy because the adaptation response to being awake. Not getting the energy we need.

We’re under fueling our body. So it’s like, well, I actually have to conserve energy now versus increasing the thermogenic effects, right? When we bring food in, we want to increase our metabolism. So that’s that thermic effect of food that will increase the more we get it. It keeps the fire burning longer.

Crystal O’Keefe: What a great point. And that also means, I guess, that you might actually find that you’re sleeping better when you do that since you’re letting your body actually rest when it’s time to sleep instead of eating something an hour before you go to bed. Totally. Well, that is all incredibly helpful information.

Thank you both so much for your time today. And listeners, that is all for this week. You can find all of the Met Pro Method episodes anywhere you get podcasts, or you can go to met Please be sure to follow the show and rate and review that lets other people know what to expect. You can also learn more about MetPro at

I am your host, Crystal O’Keefe, and I will be back next week as Jessee said earlier. Until then, remember, consistency is key.

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