If you have been in the fitness world for a little while, I am sure you have heard everything under the sun when it comes to meal frequency suggestions. Today, I will be going over the truth about meal frequency!
If you are a beginner, all these claims about eating a minimum of 6 meals per day and all the other non-sense information out there can get confusing.
This conversation is not as complicated as it seems. This because, in almost all circumstances, meal frequency is determined by what works best for YOU!
That’s right, YOU! In this article, I will be going over some things to consider for meal frequency so you can decide what is best for you.
First, let’s start with your goal. Is it fat loss, muscle growth or just bodyweight maintenance? While meal frequencies are largely irrelevant across these goals, there are some practical things to consider for what might work best.
If your goal is muscle growth or body recomposition (fat loss and muscle growth simultaneously), there is something that is best no matter the circumstance. That is splitting your protein intake up across 4 meals. This ensures your muscle protein synthesis (the process responsible for muscle tissue repair and growth), is elevated more often and at key times (such as following a workout) during the day.
For more information on proper protein intake, I’ll link an article at the end of this one.
Another thing to consider for muscle growth is what meal frequency allows you to get in the calories and protein you need to hit your calorie surplus and or daily protein intake. Some people might prefer 2 or 3 larger meals while others may prefer 4 or more meals.
What about pre and post-training nutrition? Optimizing this would require at least 2 meals. If you had only 2 meals then how would you feel for the rest of the day since a pre and post-training meal would only cover about 2 to 6 hours of the day?
Those are all things to consider when it comes to muscle growth meal frequency. If you can split your nutrition and protein intake up into 4 meals and that works well for you, great! If not, consider things such as energy levels at key times, eating enough calories and or protein and trying to increase muscle protein synthesis more than once or twice. This needs to be considered in conjunction with what you can sustain.
If your goal is fat loss only and not a body recomposition goal that would involve muscle growth, then meal frequency is largely irrelevant for what is clear cut and dry as being optimal. The difference will come from what you prefer and what allows you to stick to your nutrition plan.
There might be some evidence suggesting that between 3 and 6 meals is ideal for satiation, but it is largely up to your personal circumstances and what works for you.
If your schedule allows for one meal and you can do fine with that, great! If one meal isn’t helping you stay full and you find you lack energy for most of the day, maybe 3 meals would be best (for example).
If you find 6 meals helps with your hunger levels the most and you can sustain 6 meals a day, go for it!
It really depends on personal preference.
The same rule applies to this goal. Do what you prefer. Sure, usually 3 or 4 meals is great for splitting up your day and maintaining energy levels and such, but you need to find what works best for you and what you can stick to!
As you can tell, besides the goal of muscle growth, meal frequency largely depends on what you can stick to and what works well for you.
Even if you want to grow muscle and 4 meals a day isn’t ideal for your lifestyle, that’s fine. There aren’t going to be drastic differences between 3 and 4 meals (for example). 4 meals is just how you maximize things.
Thank you for reading and I hope this has been beneficial for you! If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the comment section below!
Here are some other articles that may be beneficial for your knowledge!
Until Next Time,
Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for the use of this information after reading.