Eat only when hungry?

Every once in a while I hear or read that you should only eat when you are hungry. Without much thought this seems like common sense.

At the same time, I hear about eating several small meals throughout the day in an effort to keep your metabolism running.

So which is it?

My goals are like many hear, to maintain or increase muscle mass while not gaining or losing fat. I do some type of workout everyday.

How much should you listen to your body?


Put it this way, when your hungry that means that your already performing at less than optimal. Eating more often 1) keeps you from being hungry, who likes being hungry? 2) stabilizes your blood sugar levels 3) your not as likely to over eat when you don't have an appetite 4) slows your metabolism down, unless you want to eat less food, that's bad.

The hunger reflex is there to remind you to eat, if you want to perform optimally eat more often.

Also, if your trying to gain muscle your (almost certainly) going to have to put on some fat. No big deal, you can work it off after. Unless you're untrained it's hard to gain muscle while adding no/little fat.

Thanks for your response.

I understand (I think) and agree with what you're saying. It confirms what I've heard from other sources, however my question is more from the other side of the coin: Should you force yourself to eat when you aren't hungry?

Common sense tells me that my body doesn't need food yet. I'm not even thinking about food. For example today I woke up around 9 and wasn't hungry at all until about 3. This isn't normal for me, but It seemed strange.

Any thoughts?


Yes, your body needs food every 5 hours or so or your blood sugar levels drop. Common sense is wrong in this case. You also need to be getting a steady supply of protein for optimal results. You can only digest so much protein at any given meal, so if you're only eating 2 meals a day, your not going to be able to absorb as much protein than if you were eating 6 meals/day.

Say you slept 8 hours, then you are doing a 8+6 hour fast, that's assuming you ate right before you went to bed. That's 14 hours of your body trying to rebuild itself without food, + or - if you ate before you slept. The lack of hunger was just you having an off day.

Should you force yourself to eat when your hungry? Yes, I do. Don't overeat though, just make sure you get a steady supply of food. I don't like eating right when I get up, so I just have a protein shake and a piece of fruit w/ some good fats. I don't force myself to eat a huge meal, it can wait until I have more of an appetite. With a steady supply of food, you'll feel better, perform better.