One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to fitness and health is without a doubt how many meals a day should we eat. There are a lot of theories which is the best way to consume your much needed food. For some you should eat every 2-3 hours, for others it should be at least 10 times a day. Some people are convinced that the best way to consume your daily calories is in just one meal during the course of the day, while others just eat during a small window of time. All of those theories have thousands of supporters who claim that their way is the most efficient when you are trying to lose weight or fats, increase your muscle mass or better your metabolism. But is there an actual ideal meal frequency which is optimal for you, when you are trying to reach your fitness goals? Well let’s take a look of some of the claims people make regarding meal frequency.
Eating 5-6 smaller meals a day will help you lose weight
This is one of the most famous claims about eating frequency. It promises that if you eat smaller amounts 5-6 times a day will benefit greatly your efforts to lose some weight. This idea is good only if you are trying to control your hunger. There are people who seem to be always hungry. To hem waiting 5-6 or more hours between meals is more like torture than a diet. They add a snack in between meals and of course their results are not good. For those people eating several times a day but smaller amounts makes perfect sense. Otherwise there is nothing beneficial in this practice. Majority of studies agree that there is no correlation between meal frequency and weight loss. The researchers found out that as long as you intake less calories than you burn, you will lose weight regardless when you intake them.
Eating more frequently will increase your metabolism
The general believe is that people who eat multiple meals throughout the day tend to increase their metabolic rate. The idea behind this is to make your body work all the time (except during the night) which will need more energy thus increasing your metabolic rate. t
Though sounding logical at first glance contradicts the studies that were made during the past decade. According to them it’s all the same if you eat once or nine times a day, as long as you consume the same amounts of calories the results will be the same. The only thing you can do to increase your metabolic rate is to make some more muscles and to burn some fat. This way your BMR is sure to increase.
Eat more than 3 times a day to increase your muscle growth
This theory is ravaging through broscience communities like wild fire, but there are little scientific facts to support this claim. Well there are some studies which focus on the rate of muscle protein synthesis after eating(in other words the rate at which proteins are being made into muscle after each feeding). Several of these studies suggest that a meal frequency of 3-5 meals a day with evenly distributed protein intake, is optimal when you are trying to gain muscle mass. However those studies were disproven, since they were not long-term studies and there were some factors that weren’t taken under consideration. When we take a look at studies that lasted more than 2 weeks we can clearly see that there is no correlation between the number of meals which a person consumes, and the rate his muscle grow, as long as he intakes the same amount of calories and proteins.
Some final thoughts
Based on the current researches we are safe to say that as long as you eat properly it doesn’t matter how often you do it. It doesn’t matter if you eat 1 or 10 times during the day, as long as your calories stay in tact. If you want to lose weight you should know your metabolic rate and eat less calories than you burn during the day. If you want to increase your metabolic rate, you must increase your muscle mass and lose some fats. And if you want to increase your muscle mass, you should increase your protein intake and make some exercises at least 3 times a week. It doesn’t matter how frequent your meals are.