The two cardinal rules of eating

Getting the most out of your diet means knowing not just what to eat, but when to eat it, says an accomplished fitness expert

plate with fork spoon, clock

When it comes to the right way of eating, we all know what not to do, but few of us know what to do. When I ask my clients to tell me the basics of eating correctly, most of them are not able to say much beyond concepts like eating fewer calories or not skipping breakfast. There are two basic guidelines that I suggest to my clients. These two rules—about food timing and nutrient intake—can phenomenally impact the outcome of your workout and diet plan.

Nutrient timing

Timing of a meal can play a major role in your struggle with weight or health problems. Our ancestors followed the nutrient timing principle without actually being conscious about it. Unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced world, we either completely skip eating breakfast or we chomp down whatever we can lay our hands on in the morning’s rush. Some people “brunch” instead of eating a proper breakfast. However, doing so is detrimental to your health. Let’s look at the ideal timing for each meal.


Ideally, you should have your first meal between 60 – 90 minutes after you wake up. Try not to eat almost immediately after waking up. Save the first hour to do your morning chores, some exercise or pranayama. It is important to fuel your body correctly at breakfast, because your body has been starved of essential micronutrients since the previous night’s meal. If there is too long a gap between waking up and having your first meal, i.e. more than 90 minutes, then your body will begin breaking down your muscles for energy.

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This was first published in the September 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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