Three square meals a day…breakfast, lunch and dinner. Can a person achieve great muscle-building results with just three meals a day?

Absolutely…and I’ll tell you how.

It’s all about meal timing and quantity.

Before I get started, please note there is no scientific evidence definitely proving that 6 meals a day is any better than 3 meals a day for building muscle or losing fat.  It’s calories in vs calories out, along with the quality of the nutrients you’re eating.  The basic problem with meal frequency arises because many people simply CAN’T get more than 3 meals day.

Here’s my solution…

1. Plan to train in the late afternoon/early evening, if you can. For our meal timing, this will be the best option.

2. Have a moderately large breakfast…eggs, oatmeal, broccoli…whatever else you normally eat. Breakfast is the second most important meal of the day (for our purposes here, at least) and it’s not going to be your biggest.

3. Have a medium-sized lunch…at this point, you’re looking to not overload your digestive system with food (you already did that with breakfast) because you’ll be training fairly soon.

4. Do your workout and have your post-workout shake.

5. DINNER is going to be your biggest meal of the day. Because your body is primed to take full advantage of whatever you eat after training THIS is the time to load up. You should get at least half your days calories or more in this meal…overloading calories like this is extremely anabolic and your body will thrive on it.

6. Next day, repeat.

That’s the plan! It’s nothing complicated, of course, but I’ve been using this type of eating and training schedule for a long time and it’s been extremely effective for me.

If you can squeeze in a few small snacks during the day, go for it! But if you don’t have time for 5 or 6 meals a day, don’t stress about it. Your body can cope and you can definitely still make great progress. 

  1. Nick 12 years ago

    I think this article just goes to show how much opinions differ, even on the same site. Will has a video saying that eating many smaller meals instead of 3 larger ones is really not going to make much difference and that there is very little evidence conclusive suggesting it makes much difference. I think Will says possibly a extra few % difference over a few years.

    • Author
      Nick Nilsson 12 years ago

      Yep, Will and I are in absolute agreement over that. The study that the whole 6 meals a day thing was based on showed a slightly elevated metabolism after eating, which was then extrapolated to mean you should eat all the time to elevate your metabolism. Just doesn’t work like that in the real world.

      • Nick 12 years ago

        How elavated are we talking in that study and were the meals a proportional split of the total daily macro consumption? I guess at the moment I have age on my side with metabolism but will have to think about it more in the future. In an ideal world I would like to try and go for the option of 3-4 higher protein meals with 3 carb based meals between and some BCAAs to boost muscle protein synthesis but like you say it’s not always easy.

        • Author
          Nick Nilsson 12 years ago

          It was on the order of 2 to 3%, I believe. Not sure if they tested macronutrient splits.
          I think the real takeaway is you have to do what works for you and that sometimes studies and the “advice” given based on them may not be completely for real.

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