Why You Don't Need to Eat Six Times a Day for Gains
Struggling to eat five or six meals a day? Forget about it! The “six a day” rule is bogus. Whether your goal is fat loss or muscle building, having three meals a day will do the trick. It’s no need to munch every two or three hours to make gains. This practice can actually stall your progress and make it harder to reach your goals.
The Truth about Meal Frequency
“Eat five or six meals a day to boost your metabolism and keep your gains.” How many times have you heard that? Contrary to popular belief, eating several meals a day isn’t necessarily better. In theory, this helps provide your body with a steady supply of nutrients, which prevents muscle loss and keeps your metabolism up. However, most people could actually benefit from eating less often.
There is no scientific evidence to support the health and fitness benefits of multiple meals. A small number of studies have found that eating six times a day led to a higher “thermic effect” from food than eating just two or three times per day. The thermic effect refers to the amount of energy needed to process and break down the food ingested. In other words, eating more often could lead to a greater energy expenditure and help you burn more calories throughout the day. Unfortunately, the benefits are negligible.
According to health experts, eating more frequently may actually increase hunger and cause weight gain. Not to mention that every time you eat, your blood sugar levels go up. Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance and metabolic disorders. Research indicates that there is no significant different between low and high-meal frequency when it comes to fat loss or muscle growth. Other studies show that spreading your meals over the day could lead to an increase in appetite and reduced feelings of satiety.
Additionally, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to meal frequency. A massive bodybuilder or a powerlifter with high caloric needs will need more meals to meet this nutritional requirements compared to the average guy half his size. Thus, you have to experiment and see what works best for you. Eating six meals a day has no significant impact on metabolism, fat loss, or calorie expenditure over a 24-hour period. While it’s true that you can results by increasing meal frequency, it doesn’t apply to everyone.
Are Three Meals a Day Enough to Fuel Your Gains?
What and how much you eat is more important than meal frequency. As long as you eat the right foods in the right amounts, it really doesn’t matter how many meals you have. Most people can easily get all the protein, carbs, and fat needed from three daily meals. It all comes down to your schedule and preferences. If you can cook and eat six meals a day, then go for it. But don’t do it just because you’re supposed to.
Some experts suggest that eating six meals a day increases protein synthesis. However, this only applies to gym goers with a low protein intake. According to research, having three daily meals as opposed to six meals actually curbs hunger. The claims of “increased metabolic rate” by spreading meals throughout the day are overrated.
Eating six times a day is not only useless, but also time consuming. You’d better spend your time at the gym or getting some rest rather than cooking and preparing your meals. World-famous athletes, such as Ronda Rousey and Herschel Walker eat only once a day.
The health benefits of the paleo diet, the warrior diet, intermittent fasting, and other eating plans that limit meal frequency are backed up by science. Eating less often can actually improve insulin sensitivity, regulate your appetite, and make it easier to stay on track with your diet. For example, intermittent fasting has been shown to increase longevity, prevent diabetes, and enhance athletic performance. It also boosts testosterone and growth hormone levels, leading to muscle and strength gains. Research indicates that metabolic rate increases after short term fasting.
Broscience says that having six daily meals reduces catabolism by supplying muscles with a steady source of protein. However, this isn’t necessarily true. If you eat more protein than you handle in one sitting, digestion will slow down so your body can process the extra protein. Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s no need to stick to 30-40 grams of protein per meal. The excess will be slowly released into your system throughout the day.
There are plenty of people who look amazing by eating six times a day, and others who do well with just three daily meals. There are no set rules when it comes to meal frequency. The choice is up to you. As long as you meet your daily calorie and macronutrient needs, you can eat as often as you wish. Having just three daily meals saves you time and makes it easier to track your macros.