Meal Timing for Toning

Meal Timing for Toning

meal timing CONSCIOUSLYWhen Should I Eat?  Each one of the following questions are important to think about when determining your meal timing for your healthy food prep.

What is your current schedule?
When do you wake up?  What is your work schedule like?  When do you exercise?  When do you go to sleep?

What is your current exercise regimen?
Do you currently exercise?  If so, how many days a week?  What time during the day?  For how long and at what intensity do you exercise?

What are your GOALS?
Are you trying to clean out your arteries, lower cholesterol, and lower your blood pressure?  Are you trying to lose or maintain weight?  Are you trying to gain weight/ lean muscle?

If you do not know the answers to the above questions, stop reading now, answer them as well as you can, and then continue reading the rest of the information.  Below is an example of a meal plan for someone who wants to get toned…her name is Suzanne:

Suzanne is 42, works a 9-5 job, and has consistently added a few pounds to her frame over the years.  She is a sporadic eater and rarely eats on a consistent basis, which leads to her nibbling on this and that and then gorging on unhealthy foods because her body is in a nutrient deficit.

  • Wakes up at 7am, works from 9am-5pm, goes to sleep around 10:30pm.
  • Exercises 4 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday) at 5:30pm during the week and at 9am on Saturday morning.
  • Her goals are to get healthy, lose weight and tone up.

Meal Timing for Suzanne:

Monday – Friday

  • Immediately upon rising – morning cleanser
  • 30 minutes after morning cleanser – breakfast
  • 4-6 hours after breakfast – lunch
  • Immediately following workout – post workout smoothie
  • 30 minutes after smoothie– dinner on workout days
  • 4-6 hours after lunch on non-workout days
  • No food until breakfast the next day (try to give your body 12 hours of no digestions other than the morning cleanser in order to let it clear out and repair itself).

Saturday – Sunday

  • Immediately upon rising – morning cleanser
  • No breakfast before exercise
  • Immediately following workout – post workout smoothie
  • 30 minutes after smoothie– breakfast
  • 4-6 hours after breakfast– lunch
  • 4-6 hours after lunch– dinner
  • No food until breakfast the next day

Suzanne will eat three meals a day with a post workout smoothie.  One of her meals will also be a nutrient dense smoothie, typically breakfast.  Lunch will be the largest course of the day.  Dinner will be a lighter meal but still satisfactory.

What nutrients are included in these meals are VERY important and should be mostly plant based nutrition, but that won’t be discussed here.

A quick note regarding those of you who may be thinking I’ve heard that multiple smaller meals a day is better for losing weight than the standard three meals or gorging. And you’re right!  You probably have heard this, as it was very popular for a while and still is in various arenas.  HOWEVER, there is no significant scientific evidence to support this claim (Bellisle).  In my own experience, it is much more of a task than eating three larger meals a day.  If you are someone who has created a habit around multiple small meals a day, and it is getting you to your goals, stick with what works and power to you!

There are several other examples that could be given and almost everyone will have a slight variation from the next person.  What is important is that you establish a routine that is founded in eating and when and what is good for you.

In the end, the exact timing of your meals is most important when timing your exercises and your sleep.  You want your body to optimize the nutrients it has in it, to recover the best and fastest it can, and to continually be fueled with nutrient dense foods.


Bellisle, France, Regina McDevitt, and Andrew M. Prentice. “Meal frequency and energy balance.” British Journal of Nutrition 77, no. S1 (1997): S57-S70.

Van Cauter, Eve, Rachel Leproult, and Laurence Plat. “Age-related changes in slow wave sleep and REM sleep and relationship with growth hormone and cortisol levels in healthy men.” Jama 284, no. 7 (2000): 861-868.

Redwine, Laura, Richard L. Hauger, J. Christian Gillin, and Michael Irwin. “Effects of Sleep and Sleep Deprivation on Interleukin-6, Growth Hormone, Cortisol, and Melatonin Levels in Humans 1.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 85, no. 10 (2000): 3597-3603.

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