3 Squares

You may be wondering at the the title of this post. What’s 3 squares? And what has it got to do with diet?

Actually this is an idea articulated by Paul Wade inConvict Conditioning 2. 3 squares simply refers to 3 square meals a day.

Paul Wade gripes about how people nowadays are overcomplicating things unnecessarily, especially when it comes to exercise and diet.

We always get a earful from supposed fitness gurus who tell you it’s best to consume “5 to 6 small meals a day”, rather than the traditional 3 squares. But looking at today’s fitness community in general, I’d say that men and women used to fare much better on simple systems and simple diets.

I think there are many reasons why most places and cultures in the world have been practising 3 squares a day for millenia. While it’s no harm grabbing some light snacks in between your main meals if and when you’re feeling hungry, it’s downright inconvenient for most of us to be consuming 5 to 6 small meals that are more or less evenly spaced out throughout the day.

Assuming you’re a normal fella who’s awake 16 hours of the day. If you’re going to have 5 to 6 meals a day, it means that you’re going to be eating a significant amount of food every 2 – 3 hours. This means that your gastrointestinal system is going to be constantly lined with either freshly- or recently-ingested food, and you’ll be constantly digesting the stuff that you’re feeding into your body in a more or less steady stream.

I’m no biologist, but I feel that having 5 to 6 substantial portions of food going into your tummy in 2 – 3 hour intervals daily seems like it’s going to place a considerable amount of stress on the gastrointestinal tract. Having something light to keep up your energy levels before your next major meal is okay, but I certainly wouldn’t advocate splitting your food intake into 5 to 6 even parcels and ingesting them every 2 – 3 hours.

Mankind has always been fascinated by his own ingenuity, and we have always delighted in coming up with new and fancy ways of doing stuff. While this spirit of innovation and experimentation may work well for us in the field of science and technology, I question the usefulness of such over-inventiveness on the areas of diet and exercise.

Of course, it is always wise to seek an understanding of the scientific workings that underlie our dietary programmes and exercise systems. But sometimes, things stay the same over long periods of time for a good reason. The human body has not experienced any great changes for a good while now, and so the things that have worked wonders for the bodies of our forefathers decades ago should be as effective as they were then as they are now.

It is obvious that people are starting to realise this in the field of exercise. We hear talk of kettlebells and other similar forms of “old school” training methods making a comeback. I believe that it is only a matter of time before the diet world recognises the same. When people start to realise that all the over-emphasis on micro-nutrients and diet programming isn’t giving them the results that they want, they’ll come to learn that sometimes, it’s better to stick to what’s tried-and-true.

If you’re eating 3 good, square meals a day, consisting of a sound mix of grains (or grain derivatives), meats, fruits and vegetables, with a few snacks (fruits, nuts and seeds are recommended) thrown in between these dietary mainstays, you can’t go too far wrong. So forget about all the hassle that comes with counting every calorie and every microgramme of micronutrients that you’re ingesting, and instead just focus on eating soundly and sensibly.

3 squares. Because sometimes the more things change, the more they should stay the same.

~ This post is written by Lionel Ng, part-time Personal Trainer & full-time Fitness Enthusiast. ~


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