Meal Frequency (i.e., the number of meals you
eat each day) could be the most important aspect of your nutrition
program. If you do this right you will build muscle, burn fat,
and with a proper resistance training program, be well on your
way to achieving the body of your dreams.
But first, I must burst your bubble. What you
are about to read isn't sexy, it's not exotic, secret, or the
uncovering of some super Eastern European nutrition system that
led to tons of gold medals in weight lifting. I'm also not going
to tout some super juice, or specific vegetable that you need
to eat outrageous quantities of in order to achieve your goals.
What it is, is sound advice that works. Do
this correctly, and you will be well on your way to fitness nirvana.
The thing is, most people know about it, yet few actually follow
through with it and put it into action.
I admit to being one of them. I've always been
in "good" shape from playing sports, working out with
weights and eating right. However, I was in "good" shape
and not "great" shape because I did things right about
75% of the time.
I ate 6 meals a day, most of the time. I consumed
enough protein in each meal, most of the time. I worked out and
worked out intensely enough, most of the time.
Why is that, you might wonder. Well, I'm glad
you asked. You see, it takes motivation, persistence, planning,
and a little bit of sacrifice. Sounds horrible, doesn't it? Don't
worry, it's not. But as I've stated before, nothing worth achieving
comes easy. Don't get me wrong, it is simple, it's just not easy.
But it can be pretty painless, if you have the right mind set.
So, what is it, already? Okay, okay, here you
go. Eat six meals a day. No excuses, no exceptions, no nothing.
Just do it. I told you it was simple. You might be ready to toss
me in the trash because you already know such obvious advice.
But let me ask you this, how many consecutive days have you eaten
six nutritious meals? If you are like most people. probably not
So if you know it's an extremely important
part of achieving your goals and building the body you want, why
aren't you doing it more often? I think one reason is that those
of us in the industry have failed in hammering home the absolute
importance of eating six meals a day. Sure, we say it, but if
so few people are doing it, we must not be stating our case very
Reason number two - eating six proper, nutritious
meals a day takes work. It takes a time commitment, among other
sacrifices. And it's not just the time it takes to make the meals,
or the time to eat them. It also involves other aspects of your
life. For example, socializing, going shopping, playing
sports on the weekends, etc. If you eat six times a day, you need
to eat every 2 or 3 hours, tops. What are you going to do, sit
home all day every day so you can be near your food? Of course
But you will need to plan ahead. This could
mean shopping and then cooking most of your food once a week,
putting each meal in a microwaveable container, and then carrying
meals to work with you.
You may need to invest in a high quality thermos
(or two or three) and make your favorite protein shakes to take
with you when you are going to be out and about for a while, or
bringing some protein bars with you instead.
You may also need to withstand comments from
friends and family. In our culture today, most social functions
center around food - thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, even labor
day and memorial day are times to get together with friends for
Sure, you may be able to eat some of the food
available. Even so, you most likely will be around long enough
for at least one other meal, in which you will need to be prepared
with something you brought with you.
This may require turning down the food offered
and whipping out a protein bar, thus dealing with the questions
and comments, usually negative, that will most likely arise.
And hey, how many of us have the well meaning
mother or grandmother that assures us we are too skinny, we must
eat more, offers us everything in site, and just won't take a
thank you for an answer?
I know, eating right may not be easy, but it
is necessary if you truly want to achieve your best body, and
in the shortest amount of time possible. I've given my lecture on the necessity of eating
six times a day. Now let's talk about what this can actually do
for you in terms of achieving your muscle building and fat burning
Our genetics haven't really changed during
our existence. Initially, food was very difficult to come by and
our ancestors never knew when they were going to be getting their
It was only natural that our bodies became very efficient at storing
excess calories just in case they were needed at a later time
in order to fend off starvation.
That was great back then. It helped keep many
people alive. Now, however, when our next meal is a phone call
or fast food restaurant away, it's not so good. Especially since
are stored as ugly body fat. Do any of us really want to look
like a bear on the verge of hibernation? I think it's safe to
say that the answer to that question is no.
This is one of the reasons for eating six meals
a day. In general, there are three things that can lead our bodies
to storing calories as fat. One would be to consume a very large
This alerts our body to the fact that this could very well be
our last meal for a long time to come, so we better preserve as
many calories as we can (as body fat, of course) just in case
meal doesn't come for a long time.
The next reason is going too long between meals.
Again, this kicks in our bodies "starvation" mode and
it stores calories as fat because it's not sure when it will be
getting its next meal.
A third reason would be a sudden and severe
restriction in daily calorie consumption. Just like going too
long between meals, this kicks the "starvation" mode
into action, causing the storage of body fat.
Now, what do most people do when they decide
they need to lose weight and go on a diet? Correct, they severely
restrict calories as well as going a long time between each meal.
This may work at first but eventually causes the exact opposite
result that they are looking to accomplish. Their metabolism slows
down and they start storing fat, even on so few calories a day.
Add to this mix, that most people who diet
don't add weight training to their program and you have a real
recipe for disaster. Without adding weight training, at least
half of the weight lost
will be muscle, not fat, which slows down your metabolism even
If you restrict your calories too severely,
even if you are weight training, a good percentage of your weight
lost will be muscle, as your body doesn't have enough calories
to sustain the muscle
it has, let alone build new muscle.
This also goes for going too long between meals.
If your body goes too long between meals, not getting the necessary
calories, protein, and other nutrients, it goes into a catabolic
state. In other words, it starts eating your muscle for energy.
This would slow down your metabolism, leading to the storage of
more Body fat. It's a vicious cycle.
In addition, anyone who severely restricts
calories and goes a long time between meals will hit upon the
first reason - eating an excessively large meal, otherwise known
in diet speak as binging. And most of these calories will go straight
to being stored as body fat.
A study published in Metabolism (Karbowsa,
J., et al.  "Increase of lipogenic enzyme mRNA levels
in rat white adipose tissue after multiple cycles of starvation/refeeding.
50:734-738.) looked at this very same issue using animals.
The study showed that cycles of starvation
and refeeding (i.e., binging) led to an upgrade of lipogenic enzymes.
These enzymes promote body fat synthesis. We possess these same
lipogenic enzymes. So, if you want to lose body fat or keep off
the fat you've lost, don't starve yourself. If you do that, you
are only going to binge, leading you to put the fat back on.
Now, how do you avoid these mistakes? You eat
smaller, more frequent meals. If you eat every two or three hours,
always having a prepared nutritious meal, shake or bar handy,
much less likely to binge.
By not severely restricting calories and adding
weight training, you will lose body fat, not muscle, thereby not
only preventing your metabolism from slowing down, but also speeding
up your metabolism due to the added muscle from the weight training.
The information contained in this article is
strictly for informational purposes. You should consult a physician
before beginning any new nutrition, exercise, or dietary supplement
program. The information contained in this article is not meant
to provide medical advice. Specific medical
advice should be obtained from a licensed health-care practitioner.
Gregg Gillies and Build Lean Muscle Publishing
will not assume any liability, nor be held responsible for any
injury, illness or personal loss due to the utilization of any
information contained herein.