Why 6 meals a day?

Posted on February 14, 2012. Filed under: Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , |

Ever hear a trainer say you have to eat 6 meals a day?


Ever ask them why?


Usually you get some kind of spiel about boosting your metabolism or burning more fat or maintaining muscle.  The only problem is, it’s not true.


Eating multiple meals has no real direct effect on your metabolism.  None.


So where did such a belief come from?  Where most of these ideas came from, bodybuilders.


Understand, they didn’t do this on purpose.  They advocated it because it was what worked for them.  And in hindsight you can see why.  If you were a bodybuilder who is trying to add muscle mass without the aid of protein shakes and convenient supplements, you have to eat.  A lot and often.

So what’s easier to do when training often, eating 3 large meals or 6 small ones?  Exactly.

A lot easier to squat with a small meal in the belly

You know something else old-school  bodybuilders used to do?  Fasting.  Really, scouts honor.


Don’t know why that doesn’t get discussed in more fitness magazines.  Oh right, they can’t sell supplements for that.  😉


So how do I advise my clients to eat?  I ask them to eat every 2-3 hours.


Confused?  Well, as it turns out there are other benefits to eating multiple meals (1).

  1. If protein intake is adequate,  meal frequency during low-calorie diets may preserve lean body mass
  2. Increased frequency shows positive effects on LDL cholesterol and insulin
  3. Increasing meal frequency appears to help decrease hunger and improve appetite control

All very positive things.


So what about Intermittent Fasting or carb cycling or any other approach?


If you can stick to it great!  If not forget about it and focus on the basics.  Not to mention when people suggest these diets they take no consideration of where a person is starting from.  Much like doing an assessment for a workout you need to assess where some one is at before you suggest a dramatic diet

  • Are they diabetic or borderline diabetic?
  • Do they suffer from adrenal fatigue symptoms?
  • Are they on medication?
  • How many diets have they been on and failed?
  • How many calories are they on right now?
I had a client who was 50 lbs overweight and when we examined her food journal she was actually under eating.  I immediately consulted with some more experienced in the matter.  worked out a plan to increase her intake and soon her weight came off by eating more and her metabolism finally came to be where it needed to be.
If I had applied fasting to this client things would have not gone well.
My point.  Choose your eating habits based on healthy principles.  Not quick fix gimmicks or exciting ad copy.
If you are interested in applying Intermittent fasting to your lifestyle.  I highly recommend starting with “The Warrior Diet.”  this was actually the first book to really bring this idea to public discussion.
If you never heard of it don’t feel bad.  It was released in 2002.  I know because I bought it in hard cover when it first came out.  I’ve never applied it myself, but I wouldn’t be a good coach if I shut my eyes to different philosophies when they came along.
The trick is knowing how to evaluate and apply what works.  Like 6 meals a day.
And hey if it works for you, and keeps you healthy.  No worries.
Keep Fitness Groovy,
Coach W
1) Antonio et al, Meal Frequency, J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2011;8:4

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2 Responses to “Why 6 meals a day?”

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I love your articles!

Reblogged this on Messa Life & Beauty and commented:
This blog has amazing fitness ideas and squashes all those crazy trends you hear about. I highly recommend reading the blog if you have any type of fitness goals. I personally love it and it keeps me motivated.
Check out this posting regarding eating 6 small meals a day.

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