Demystifying Sports Nutrition

When To Eat

“In the U.S., the message is perverted: three square meals, no snacking and nothing after dinner because it’ll make you fat,” says Benardot. “But your blood sugar doesn’t know what time it is.”

More from Fueling Optimally: When Is As Important As What

Benardot believes the French do it right. They have a light breakfast, drop into a café around 10:30 a.m. for a croissant, eat lunch, have a light meal or snack in the late afternoon, then eat a relatively small dinner at 10 p.m. before going to bed. Eating and drinking episodically stabilizes blood sugar; when glucose, the primary fuel for the brain, drops too low, the hormone cortisol is produced to break down muscle mass so that alanine, an amino acid, can be converted to glucose. “Blood sugar fluxes every three hours, so to not burn your lean muscle mass and keep cortisol at bay, it makes a lot of sense never to let yourself get hungry,” says Benardot.

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