How many meals should I eat per day? - The Muscle PhD
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How many meals should I eat per day?

Ask DocCategory: NutritionHow many meals should I eat per day?
musclephd Staff asked 3 years ago

I read in a fitness magazine that you’re supposed to eat several small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism burning. Is this real or just broscience?

1 Answers
Dr. Jacob Wilson Staff answered 3 years ago

That’s dependent on your bodyweight goals, your dietary intake, and the time you can devote to food. You can throw out the old myth of eating several small meals to keep your metabolism burning throughout the day – that was essentially the finding of one study in the 1980s that’s only been repeated circumstantially. You really don’t need to worry about the overall number of meals or snacks, just focus on getting in the nutrients you need. As long as you’re reaching your daily nutrition goals it doesn’t really matter how many meals you eat.

The one caveat to this is that you should try to space your meals out about every 2-3 hours. This has been shown to be the best method for maintaining a positive protein balance which is very important for muscle gain on a bulk and lean mass retention during a cut.

Further Reading:
Arnal, M. A., et. al. (1999). Protein pulse feeding improves protein retention in elderly women–. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 69(6), 1202-1208.

Bellisle, F., McDevitt, R., & Prentice, A. M. (1997). Meal frequency and energy balance. British Journal of Nutrition, 77(S1), S57-S70.

Hansen, Ø. (2008). The Meal Frequency Project: The effect of meal frequency on body composition during 12-weeks of strength training (Master’s thesis).

Schoenfeld, B.J, Aragon, A.A., & Krieger, J. W. (2015). Effects of meal frequency on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews, 73(2), 69-82.

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