The Water Cooler: Overheard at the Gym

watercooler gossip

I’ve been contemplating starting this series for a while now, and it is time to just dive in and do it! Often as we go about our daily lives, we overhear other people’s conversations. Sometimes it is funny, truthful, suspicious, scary or even downright outrageous. I will discuss the things that I overhear with regards to nutrition and discuss them at more length, whether it is to explain an important point or to counter a pervasive myth. If you have something in particular you would like for me to address, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email and I will do my best to address it at some point.

This week’s “Water Cooler” has to do with two solid pieces of advice my spin instructor was giving out this past week during our 3.5 hour endurance ride. (By the way, she is currently getting her masters degree in nutrition and applying to dietetic internships, so she definitely is knowledgeable! And I’m training for Ovarian Cycle, a 6 hour indoor cycling endurance ride to raise money for ovarian cancer research) I am often asked about meal timing or hear wacky things related to these topics and discuss them at length with my clock

1. Eat Often

People often go too long between meals or snacks, or maybe even skip meals altogether. This is detrimental to weight management, our energy levels and sports performance for athletes. Our bodies have a natural ebb and flow to our blood glucose (i.e, blood sugar) levels. Without getting too much into the science, you want to eat every 3 to 4 hours to maintain steady blood glucose levels. This keeps our energy levels more stable as well as boost metabolism. This is why you hear the recommendation for eating 5-6 “mini-meals” throughout the day rather than 2-3 large meals. Snacking is a good thing if you do it properly and have a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.


2. There is no “magical” cut-off time for eating in the evening.

I have heard people give out advice such as “no white foods after 6 pm” or “don’t eat any food after 7 pm,” etc. Or I am often asked, “how late is too late to eat?” At the end of the day, if you are truly hungry (and not just bored, thirsty or stressed – all common reasons that people mistake for hunger), then you need to eat something. This does not mean license to engorge on large quantities of foods or sweets. Try a sensible, small snack like yogurt or a handful of nuts and fruit, as well as a glass of water, and see if it takes care of your hunger. Also, you might want to think about your day and see if you skimped on food earlier in the day, which led to your hunger later in the evening if this is a common occurrence.