They say timing is everything. But can timing make a difference with your fitness and nutrition goals? The article How to Lose Weight All Day Long would sure have you believe so.
The piece starts off by saying, “It’s not just what you eat or how much you exercise that matters; it’s the timing of each component that is the true secret to weight loss success.” I already have a problem with the article. Everyone wants to claim they have the “true secret” to ____________. I have news for you: there is no “secret”. The key to success is you. YOU ARE THE MAGIC BULLET! You are the one who will make sacrifices. You are the one who will turn off the alarm at 5 AM and roll out of bed to exercise. You are the one who will put one foot in front of the other. As much as I love P90X, it will do nothing for me unless I use it. P90X DVDs aren’t doing the sweating, I am! And as much as I love my Vitamix, unless the right foods are going in it (and I’m turning away the wrong foods in the process), it will do me no good. It’s a combination of consistency and hard work and sacrifice that will achieve the success, and you are the one who controls such things.
Think of it like this. On one side of your garage you have a whole bunch of tools: a compound saw, power drill, table saw, compressor, nail gun, saw horses, hammer, tape measure, nails, you name it. On the other side of the garage you have a pile of PVC lumber, some PVC pipe, PVC trim, PVC cement, and black spray paint. Now let’s just say, hypothetically (cough-cough), that you had promised your wife some time ago that you would build her some window boxes because you didn’t want to shell out $617.27 + shipping to buy new ones. And let’s also say, again, you know, just as a for-instance, that you agreed to make window boxes your next project… but you said that a year ago. You have a couple options. You could hope to stumble upon an article on Yahoo! that gives you “the secret” to making perfect window boxes. Then you could go to your wife and say, “Honey, I can now, finally, make you the window boxes I promised. I couldn’t beforehand because I didn’t know ‘the secret.'”
Now if I were in this poor schmoe’s shoes (and I hope I never am, again), I would choose option number two and ask for forgiveness for taking so long, and then get in the garage and make it happen with some hard work, sacrifice, and commitment.
P90X (or any other good workout program), Shakeology, Vitamix, really good dumbbells, these are the tools in your garage. You, my friend, are the lumber, pipe and trim. It’s up to you to use those tools and make sacrifices to build something out of the body God gave you.
Okay, sorry for the rant. Back to the article…
The article goes on to give you their “Perfect Day of Eating” to help you get fit fast. They base this on certain hormones, light, and sleep patterns. Problem is, this “secret” already coincides when we eat our main meals anyway. There’s not a lot new here. But without further ado, here in bold is the magical schedule that will solve all your eating and weight loss concerns. My critique of each time slot follows.
6 TO 8 AM: GET MOVING. Within a half hour of rising and before you eat breakfast, do 20 minutes of cardio…
I’m all for getting exercise done first thing in the morning. Kick-starts your metabolism for the day. I’ve read you’re stronger in the morning. Plus you get it done and out of the way and you’re less prone to having something “come up” and prevent you from working out later. But as you’ll see, this isn’t your actual workout. This is just a little somethin’-somethin’.
6:55 TO 8:55 AM: DRINK UP. Before every meal, drink two 8-ounce glasses of water…
I’m okay with this one. You’re going to feel fuller before eating your actual meal and probably will eat less. Not much to complain about here, except I wonder if it’s okay to drink one 16-ounce bottle of water? Or four 4-ounce cups?
7 TO 9 AM: EAT BREAKFAST.
I don’t think you should skip breakfast. And I do think the timing is important, especially post-exercise. But what if you’re not hungry, should you still eat? Most experts would say “yes” but listen to your hunger cues and respond accordingly.
10 TO 11 AM: MUNCH MIDMORNING.
Time to eat already? If you’re hungry, than it’s a good time for a protein bar or apples with almond butter or some cottage cheese. If you’re not hungry, you may want to wait. Again, learn to listen to your body. If you’re still full, don’t eat (unless you’re stick-thin and are trying to put on mass). Keep reading… you’re going to see a pattern here.
12 TO 1 PM: HAVE YOUR MIDDAY MEAL.
What if it’s 1 PM and you’re not hungry because you had that snack at 11. Is it okay to eat lunch at 1:30? In my opinion, yes. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop before your full.
2 TO 3 PM: TAKE A NAP.
Uhm, okay, sure, I’ll just stop what I’m doing. Boss won’t care. My two-year old can fend for himself. Say what? Hey, if you’re sleepy and have the freedom to take a nap, I say go for it. The importance of sleep cannot be overstated. In fact, our family takes naps every Sunday, no matter what! But most of us have things going on during the weekdays that we have to attend to. And hopefully, you’re eating and sleeping (at night) in such a way that you don’t experience the afternoon drowsies.
3:30 PM: GET BUZZED. Need a boost? This is your last chance to have a cup of joe.
Depending on your sensitivity to caffeine, you may not want anything after 2 PM. But again, it’d be my hope for you (and maybe should be a goal of yours) to already be eating clean and sleeping well enough at night that you won’t need an afternoon boost… especially if you just took the nap that Yahoo! said you needed.
4 TO 8 PM: TRIM AND TONE. Now’s the time to do your strength training, plus any additional cardio…
Do you remember how I wrote that the media isn’t helping us with our fitness goals because of all the conflicting studies? You remember, right… don’t you? Have you been skipping my posts?! Anyway, I’ve read countless times it’s best to exercise in the morning. And this Yahoo! piece doesn’t even mention how late afternoon/evening exercising can affect sleep patterns.
5 TO 7 PM: TIME TO DINE.
I have no qualms to speak of… well, relating to the above anyway.
9 PM: HAVE A PRE-SLEEP SNACK. Enjoy a carb-based bedtime snack, such as a serving of low-fat frozen yogurt…
Okay, this is the POLAR OPPOSITE of everything I’ve learned, which says to go to bed hungry and wake up skinny. Don’t eat 3 hours before sleeping. If you must eat close to bed time, eat a protein based snack. Never have I read to eat carbs before bed… and I don’t buy it.
9 TO 10:30 PM: POWER DOWN.
Here are the two things you should strive for regarding sleep and your bed: 1) Try to go to bed around the same time each night. This is hard because of schedules and whatnot, but shoot for it. 2) Only use your bed for sleeping, and, er, ahem, you know, “recreational activities.” In other words, don’t read or watch TV in bed. Do that somewhere else.
9:30 TO 11 PM: GO TO SLEEP
You heard Yahoo! Go to sleep. Sometimes that’s easier said than done pending life’s demands. What if you work the night shift? What if you have get up early to make the donuts and need to go to bed earlier? (And yes, I talk about donuts on a fitness site!) It’s not always so cut and dry.
But did you notice that the “secret” really isn’t a secret at all. We’ve been told for decades to eat 4-6 small meals a day. This is nothing new. And of course the meals are to be spaced out. Whether your snacks are at 11:00 or 11:15 is really irrelevant if you’re listening to your body. And this should remind you of the 80-20 rule post I wrote because you read and remember everything on GO, right? Don’t get bogged down with the timing and details of the precise moment you’re going to eat. There’s nothing magical about 7:06 AM vs 7:08 AM.
So when are you going to workout? As I’ve said before, you have to do what works for you. I prefer mornings for the reasons I’ve already mentioned. But if afternoons work better, by all means, afternoons it is. The important thing is that you’re exercising.
And what’s even more important than the right nutrition? Building window boxes when you say you’re going to build window boxes.