The 2 Meal Lifestyle Philosophy
Even before starting this site way back in late 2007/early 2008, I’ve always liked talking about intermittent fasting (hence the whole “IF” Life name and all). Helping others to see the benefits, different ways to go about it, and knowing how to make it work for you.
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction” ~ Albert Einstein
Knowing that less is more in many cases, I decided a while back to go with even simpler IF lifestyle plan with just the term “2 Meals”.
While it seems many mainstream weight loss plans thrive on being complicated (and maybe that is done on purpose), I’m trying to lead by example and show everyone there can be another way.
A simpler and more enjoyable path to finding a sustainable (that is the key word) lifestyle.
So here’s an outline of the 2 Meal approach in a Q&A interview format.
What is the 2 Meal Approach?
It is just a simple way to eat less overall for weight loss, while also taking advantage of the benefits of intermittent periods of low/no food intake (intermittent fasting is the science behind what makes it work so well).
No scare tactics (destroying your metabolism) to force you to make eating more complicated than it naturally should be.
“The ancient Greeks–the finest of people, physically and mentally, that ever lived–ate but two meals a day.” ~ The Hygienic System: Orthotrophy by Dr Herbert M. Shelton, 1935
In short...freedom to eat on your own terms.
Do You Just Eat 2 Meals?
Sometimes, other days it could be really 3. The 2 Meal concept is more based around the standardized big 3 meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner. I just never like to eat breakfast, so I skip it (although technically the first meal of the day is always “break”ing the overnight “fast”…even if it is at 1pm).
I start off my day with my coffee (and even some coconut oil). Then I usually eat only between lunch and dinner times, hence the “2 Meal” name.
How many “actual” times you eat between the “2 Meal” times is entirely up to you (and can vary by person and their needs/preferences).
What’s the Best Fasting Length or Eating Window?
As for feeding or fasting times, I don’t sweat it. I eat whenever I’m “really” hungry in the late morning or early afternoon. That could be noon one day and 2 pm the next. Then usually eat 1 or 2 more times until later on.
Overall my daily feeding window can be anywhere from 6-10 hours. I’ve found that works well for me and even throws a bit of the “intermittent” factor into what I do.
“To rise at six, dine at ten, sup at six and go to bed at ten, makes a man live ten times ten.” ~ 16th century proverb (Click to Tweet)
If you want a more consistent schedule daily, then you can keep the same hours. It is probably a better way to start off to see what works meal-wise, as you don’t want too many variables to have to adjust.
Many ways can work…and understanding that is the key to making an IF lifestyle work for you.
Is it Low Carb? Low Fat? Paleo? Zone?
I don’t like labels on my eating other than just trying to eat mostly “real foods” (you know, the ones that have been around in nature for 100s/1000s of years and not made in a plant). That helps keep my calories under control and not sweating all the other little details.
Other big factors also come into play such as not feeling too restricted on what you eat, otherwise diet adherence and enjoyability issues are compromised. If you can’t enjoy how you eat (or be healthy doing it long term), then it’s not sustainable.
The biggest damage done with any diet is what happens when the person gives up on it (weight gain and more diet guilt).
So eat real foods, don’t pig out on purpose and it should work out fine. This includes real carbs (fruits, veggies, starches), as I don’t think 2 Meals and low carb all the time (cycling is a better option) is a good combination for many (especially with more exercise too). Both can be a stress on the body, and too much stress only leads to a burnout state (hormesis in action).
Then a couple times a week go out for a meal and enjoy whatever you like (or as I like to say, go have some “pizza and beer”).
Anyone can go on a very low cal rapid weight loss diet, but the question becomes what happens after that. It’s more important to find that sustainable eating lifestyle first that best suits your schedule and enjoyment, then tweak as needed.
Will it Work for Everyone?
Probably not (I know, not a great sales pitch…but an honest one). However I also don’t believe any one plan ever will.
Keep in mind the concept of 2 Meals is just an eating plan. There are still many other factors that come into play if you want to talk about weight loss/health such as:
- state of metabolic health (thyroid/adrenals/liver/etc)
- insulin resistance/sensitivity issues
- choice of actual foods (and calories) eaten
- daily lifestyle stressors (hormesis again)
- type and duration of exercise done
- total daily recovery (downtime/sleep)
I can only say that it is meant for healthy adults (as I’m not a doctor or any other professional medical person).
If a person has medical conditions, issues with anxiety, chronic stress, past eating disorders..then it is possible that using more fasting/lower meal frequency with the 2 Meal approach may exaggerate them. Everyone can react differently.
Two meals a day led to a greater weight loss, lower liver fat content and a greater increase in insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetics (vs those who ate 6 meals/day of same macronutrient and energy content). ~ The Effect of Frequency of Meals on β-Cell Function in Subjects with Type 2 Diabetes, 2013
People who do make it work understand that sometimes adjustments need to be made not only in how they eat, but also in their lifestyle.
I like to say that IF is just a tool to use in your lifestyle. Sometimes it takes a bit of effort in seeing what doesn’t work inorder to learn what can work.
There’s no diet wagon to fall off, just a learning process of listening to your body and taking it one day at a time.
Is Lifestyle that Important?
Studies are showing that you can get the detrimental metabolic responses (usually seen with poor diet) from chronic stress. This all goes back to hormesis (see the graph below) and the importance of the balance between stress and recovery. You want to be in the “sweet spot” to get stronger from small stressors…not fall into the “crash and burn” stage.
Fasting is a stress. Low calories is a stress. Low carbs is a stress. Exercise is a stress. Ongoing worry/anxiety is a stress. Relaxing and sleep is recovery.
Now make your lifestyle an environment of more stress and low recovery, and be prepared for burnout (weight stall/gain, low energy, thyroid down-regulation, muscle wasting, immune system depression, inflammation, and increased risk of diseases).
The great part is that you shouldn’t have to worry anymore about eating all day or any other diet obsessions like calorie counting. Just eat, relax and get on with life!
“What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn’t much better than tedious disease.” ~ George Dennison Prentice, 1860
Do I Really Need to Exercise?
There are tremendous benefits to using more resistance based training on the metabolism and just aging itself (stronger muscles, bone density, healthy cellular metabolisms).
No need to over-complicate it as some bodyweight exercises consistently at home a few times a week works. 10-15 minutes is all you really need to get started (and with more intensity). Excess or chronic higher heart rate cardio can also lead to burnout (remember that exercise is a stress).
Make eating less your priority for weight loss (not cardio) with IF, then use simple resistance training around it for that added metabolic boost (muscle repair) and muscle “toning” (definition).
What About All the Experts Who Say the Exact Opposite for Losing Weight?
Honestly, there is always more than just one way to lose weight. Most of it comes down to finding an enjoyable way to eat less overall (control rebound or binge eating tendencies).
I’ve already pointed out many times that the research shows there is no advantage to daily energy expenditure (metabolism) when you eat more often (total daily calories being the same).
So while eating 6x/day works for some to eat less, so can eating 2 or 3 times. The experts will not want to agree with what I am saying (as it goes against what they learned), but I’m just here to show you the facts and let you decide on how to eat.
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
I’m not going to spend any more time stressing or worrying over how I eat all day, as I have better things to do. I’ll just let those who still want to debate over it watch me (and many others) eat this way and maybe inspire them to also give it a shot to see what happens.
Any Last Thoughts?
One. Don’t make IF any more complicated than it needs to be.
“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential” ~ Bruce Lee
There is no back-end or hidden agenda with it. No complicated macro-nutrient cycling plans needed.
No supplements to be sold in order for you to make it work.
Eat mostly real foods 2-3x a day in a condensed eating window. Do some resistance training couple times a week. Go play more (relax and enjoy being active at a slower pace). Stop sweating all the details. Lastly, go have pizza and beer (or whatever you enjoy) a couple times a week.
You’ll soon find what works and enjoy the journey (as that’s all you really have).
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