- Coldplay frontman Chris Martin recently revealed that he eats one meal a day.
- Some people have described this eating pattern as extremely “restrictive.”
- Experts say eating one meal a day can stress the digestive system and is unlikely to provide adequate nutrition.
- They advise eating at regular intervals and paying attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
How often do you eat each day?
When it comes to meal frequency, each of us has an individual preference, and in a recent interview, Chris Martin revealed his.
On an episode of the Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend podcast, the Coldplay frontman said that he eats just one meal a day. Martin shared that he stops eating at 4 pm, and was inspired to follow this meal plan by a fellow musician.
“I actually don’t have dinner anymore. I stop eating at 4[pm] and I learned that from having lunch with Bruce Springsteen,” he shared. “I was lucky enough to go over there to lunch the day after we played Philadelphia last year. I was on a really strict diet anyway. But I was like ‘Bruce looks even more in shape than me’ and Patti [Springsteen’s wife] said he’s only eating one meal a day. I was like, ‘Well, there we go. That’s my next challenge.’”
However, Martin (and Springsteen) aren’t the first celebrities to grab headlines after revealing they follow extreme diets.
Martin’s comments have come shortly after his ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow faced criticism for sharing that her diet mostly consists of vegetables and bone broth.
Like Paltrow, Martin’s eating pattern has been called “restrictive” by some online critics and health experts warn that following such restrictive diets can raise health risks.
Abagail Roberts, a nutritionist at bulk.com, says it’s important to note that diets are highly individual, and influenced by many factors, like genetics, lifestyle, health goals, and cultural norms, but generally speaking, eating one meal a day won’t be a good choice for most people.
“For the general population, consuming only one meal per day can potentially pose health risks, particularly if done for weight loss reasons and without sufficient knowledge of nutrition,” she points out.
Roberts says Chris Martin’s diet is an “extreme” form of intermittent fasting, an eating style that encourages people to go long stretches without food.
While intermittent fasting is shown to have some benefits, like weight loss and inflammation reduction, Roberts warns that it carries many risks.
“Eating one meal per day may increase the risk of binge eating during that meal, causing digestive discomfort such as bloating and constipation,” she explains.
She added that “intermittent fasting can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm and negatively affect sleep patterns, which can lead to physical and mental health problems.”
Roberts said that “consuming only one meal a day can lead to inadequate nutrient intake, causing deficiencies that may lead to various health problems such as fatigue, weakened immunity, and impaired cognitive function.
If you are choosing to eat only one meal a day, Roberts says it’s absolutely vital that you ensure it includes all the nutrients and calories your body needs to function optimally.
Ideally, she says you should consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your eating habits.
Ultimately though, Roberts believes that even when you take extra care, this eating pattern is unlikely to be sustainable.
Registered nutritional therapist, gut health expert, and founder of Gutfulness Nutrition Marilia Chamon explained that one reason extreme diets often aren’t sustainable is because they can lead to increased hunger and cravings.
“If you only eat one meal a day, your body may start to produce more ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite,” she said. “This can cause you to feel hungrier and have more intense cravings throughout the day.”
Add to that, eating one meal a day may encourage you to eat unhealthy foods more often.
Chamon notes that many people may struggle to eat 2,000 calories (the average recommended daily intake) in one sitting unless they eat fast food.
Chamon also believes eating one meal a day carries an increased risk of disordered eating, calling it a “slippery slope” toward disordered eating habits.
“This is particularly true if you’re using one meal a day diet as a way to control your weight, or if you have a history of disordered eating,” she points out.
So if you’re changing your eating habits to either control your weight or improve your health, eating one meal a day likely isn’t the way to go.
What does a healthy eating pattern actually look like?
Both experts agree that there is no one-size-fits-all diet. Optimal meal frequency is dependent on many factors, like age, sex, activity level, and overall health status.
However, Chamon believes most people will function best when they eat a varied diet and spread their meals out throughout the day.
“While the ideal meal frequency may vary from person to person, the general recommendation is to eat three to four meals per day,” she says.
“Eating regularly can help maintain stable blood sugar levels, prevent hunger and cravings, and ensure that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to function optimally,” she explains.
“I would recommend the standard three meals a day, with a couple of snacks in between to keep energy levels stable throughout the day. This is particularly important for active individuals,” she explains.
Eating at regular intervals isn’t just good for your energy levels; Chamon says it can benefit your digestive system as well. “Spreading out your meals adds less pressure to your digestive system resulting in less bloating and more regular bowel movements. This is particularly important for those that have decreased digestive capacity or those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” she notes.
Ultimately though, the ideal diet is one that makes you feel your best. It’s highly individual and Roberts recommends listening to your body to determine what exactly you need.
“The key is to listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full, rather than rigidly adhering to a specific meal frequency or schedule,” she notes.
Paying attention to your hunger and fullness cues, keeping a food diary, and noticing how energized you feel after eating may help you figure out your ideal eating pattern.
In the end, how you choose to eat is up to you, but for the most part, Roberts says balanced, sustainable eating patterns that promote overall health and well-being tend to work best.