You’ve changed your diet, or you’re considering doing so, and now you’re wondering about the best time to eat on the carnivore diet.
Good question, and well-spotted that it’s not food alone that influences how well a diet works. It has a lot to do about timing.
Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch 17th-hundred scientist, was the first to notice that pendulums in motion will synchronize their swings.
This physical phenomenon seems active for humans as well. All of the carnivore people I’ve met online have one or two meals per day.
Not that I know of, and it makes sense, which I’ll get into later.
One group of carnivore people believe in the One Meal A Day principle, also known as OMAD. They eat one large meal every day and then fast for around 23 hours.
They say it’s hard to begin with, and that you’ll feel hunger, but after a while, you get used to it.
For some, their body will react at one point and start to crave more food, so they switch to two meals a day.
Why not three? And at what time do we eat?
Have you ever gotten out of bed in the morning with your stomach growling, craving food?
While it sometimes happen to me, it’s rare. Most of the time, I’m not hungry in the morning.
And that’s natural. It has to do with our central brain clock, also known as the circadian rhythm.
It regulates our brain waves, our sleepiness, hormones, and hunger.
The circadian rhythm is affected by the local environment, which means that if you move to another part of the world, it will change. It will also change from summer to winter and back.
For some reason, I struggle to understand that kind of stuff, but I know how it affects me:
I’m not hungry in the morning.
And if I eat late, I get a headache.
In the carnivore diet, we’re allowed to eat to satisfy our hunger. There are no limits to how much we can eat, as long as our food derives from animals and contains fat.
Therefore, we all seem to skip breakfast and only eat lunch and inner.
Strangely, it seems that we’re most hungry in the evening, perhaps because our body thinks that this is the last chance it will have to get any food today. But at that time, insulin levels will rise quicker, and if you already have a problem with your cells being insulin resistant, then you’re in trouble.
Late dinners mean weight gain (or less drop) and that you’re less likely to get rid of your insulin resistance.
Don’t take my word for it. Here are the words of Dr. Jason Fung:
So, what’s the practical implication of these hormonal rhythms for daily eating? At 8 a.m., our hunger is actively suppressed. It is counterproductive to force-feed ourselves then. What’s the point? Eating does not produce weight loss. Forcing ourselves to eat at a time when we are not hungry is not a winning strategy. Eating late at night is also a poor strategy. Hunger is maximally stimulated at approximately 7:50 p.m. At this time, insulin is maximally stimulated by food, which means that the same amount of food results in higher insulin levels. This higher insulin level will naturally drive weight gain. Unfortunately, that timing coincides with the largest meal of the day in North America. Making dinner the biggest meal of the day is mostly driven not by health concerns but by the hours of the workday and school. Shift workers are at a particular disadvantage. They tend to eat larger meals even later in the evening, leading to higher insulin. So the optimal strategy seems to be eating the largest meal in the midday, sometime between noon and 3:00 p.m., and only a small amount in the evening hours. Interestingly, this is the traditional Mediterranean eating pattern. They eat a large lunch, followed by a siesta in the afternoon, and then have a small, almost snack-sized dinner.
Jason Fung; Jimmy Moore. The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended (Kindle Locations 2961-2971). Victory Belt Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Since meat and fat make you feel satiated faster and for longer time than carbs, there will be a natural timespan where you’re not hungry.
Most carnivore I know do some kind of fasting. Often intermittent fasting, meaning they eat during an eight hour window and then fast for 16 hours.
This means that if your first meal is at 11 am, then you should finish your last meal at 7 pm.
Your first meal should ideally be larger than your last meal.
Let me give you an example of how we do that:
We vary what we eat daily, though, so this is just a quick example to show the proportions.
Plus, there are several other ways you can fast or do intermittent fasting. I found a good article about it on a carnivore blog.
There are at least:
Stay away from early morning and late evening.
Then fit your meal(s) in when you’re hungry.