How important is meal frequency? Is 6 meals per day really needed? How about 3 or 4? I cover the debate in this new vid!!!

20 Comments
  1. Jim 8 years ago

    Eating 5-6 small meals/snacks throughout the day works well for me, but everyone is different and each individual has to determine what works best for them. Overall though, I think that eating several smaller, more frequent meals/snacks throughout the day is a healthier way to eat for most people than eating 2-3 larger meals.

  2. Reka 8 years ago

    I like the topics but more or less never watch videos, would it be a problem to at least summarize the main point in writing? Sorry but I prefer to read but would hate to miss important info. Unfortunately, more and more of my favourite experts turn to video and audio interviews. Thank you.

    • Joe 8 years ago

      I vote for that too Will. If you can, just a summary would do. I am not in US, and this part of the world we still wait for th video to buffer :). None the less, great video , great and useful information. Recently I have been trying a different diet plan by reducing the number of meals and still keeping up to the total nutritions, it worked. You are correct.

  3. Great topic. I’ve also noticed the trend of people not being so worried about getting 6 meals a day. I agree with you that it all boils down to total calorie consumption. I still think that eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day can be beneficial for people who are trying to restrict calories who might otherwise feel like they are depriving themselves of food. It may also keep people from binge eating if they only have 2 or 3 meals a day and are starving by the time they eat. I think it depends on the personality and mentality of a person since people are able to get results who follow both schools of thought on this subject.

  4. Annette 8 years ago

    Is there any new evidence in the research supporting the thermic effect of foods (especially high protein). Any additional new evidence in regards to nutrient timing? I know your views as stated in bodybuildingrevealed…..which is an amazing resource, but was wondering if you have seen any additional evidence in the research supporting both nutrient timing and thermic effect of foods.

    • Author
      Will Brink 8 years ago

      Actually, posted a bunch of studies on the BBR forums, of which you be a member.

    • Joe @next level PT 8 years ago

      I know the TEF stuff is a big part of why people think greater meal frequency is superior across the board. Their logic is that if you're eating more often, your body is always expending energy in digestion. Here is the problem with this:
      TEF is based on the individual food item being consumed and has nothing to do with frequency of consumption. Animal protein and alcohol have a high TEF (up to 30% I believe), whereas carbs and fats are lower. Lets say hypothetically you determined the average TEF of all your day's food was 20% and you ate 2000 cals that day. You would expend 400 cals in digestion TOTAL for the day. This would be true if you ate these food items in small portions throughout the day, or in larger portions/less frequent meals. A larger meal just sits in your stomach longer and takes longer to digest, but it changes nothing in terms of total calories burned via digestion within the context of a calorie controlled diet.
      And even if the TEF stuff did make more frequent meals superior, it would only be superior for fat loss, since those wanting to gain weight would be "losing more nutrients to digestion". The bodybuilders would have to change to 1 meal per day 🙂

  5. Jim 8 years ago

    Once again Will, a fantastic take on the subject! Espscially in the way it tackles Dogmatic thinking being passed on and absolutes being accepted. One point that I'd like to make for all those who just aren't sure which is the best approach to use, I would highly reccomend one thing in which anyone interested in bodybuilding should be doing anyway… TEST YOUR RESULTS!! But more importantly, TEST BOTH METHODS ON YOURSELF, then use the results from each method to help you fine tune which method works for you optimally! If you find that one method is working better than another, then use that one! If however you find that it has made little or no difference, then you are free to use whichever one you feel the most comfortable with! Whenever you record your progress, and you adapt according to the results, you will never be in any doubt, and you will always be on top of what is happening to you personally as an individual, rather than just flying blind based on what one theory said, or what case studies based on OTHER PEOPLE'S results may mislead you into believing! Fantastic work Will! Thankyou once again!!

  6. Gus 8 years ago

    Unless you are paying attention to glycemic loads of the foods that you are eating on a 5 meal a day plan, you are essentially spiking your blood glucose level up and keeping it up such that you are inducing the effects of diabetes and shortening your life span. Get a cheap finger prick glucose meter and see for yourself by taking measurements 2 hours after each of those 5 meals. Then consider including high glycemic carbohydrates as a part of only two of those meals while restricting yourself to ONLY low glycemic fats and proteins for your other meals. Also try to get at least some exercise in the two hours after each of those two carbohydrate containing meals to lower the high spikes of those two meals.

  7. Steve L 8 years ago

    Good debate. Marty Gallagher covers this very well in The Purposeful Primitive using John Parillo (the pioneer of 6+ meals a day) and Ori Hofmekler (advocate of one large meal – The Warrio Diet) as the diametrcially opposed examples. Bottom line? Obviously the old bodybuilding axiom would be true here: 'everything works while nothing works forever' would seem to hold true here too. I certainly agree with Will about dogma. Educate yourself.

  8. Steve Minarik 8 years ago

    As explained in bodybuilding theory, genetics can play a role in results. Thus "individual results may vary" as we've heard as a rule of thumb, all our lives. I believe in this theory in how we process our food as well. I, personally, do not know anyone who works day shift or 3rd shift who could possibly get 6 meals in a day. I'm not trying to be negative here, just realistic. Not that they wouldnt want to, but just are not able to get 6 breaks in a day. They are lucky to get one in many cases. Yet, I know several people who are "Ripped." Individual results may vary!

  9. LukeQKMB 8 years ago

    Thanks for the clarification Will. I have always struggled with the 5 – 6 meals a day and it is hard to recommend to anyone. 6 meals in a day is a struggle when you have a busy lifestyle. Long time Absolutes need to be tested.

  10. Joe @ Next Level PT 8 years ago

    Great article!
    I think a lot of people who claim to do better on 5-6+ meals a day simply have not given their hormones (particularly ghrelin, I believe) time to adjust to the change. They signal hunger at certain intervals/times of day and cause problems if you don't eat. My feelings on meal frequency are that when calories are low, less frequent (~3-4) is better because it allows more food per meal (aka a normal sized meal) which is more satisfying, not to mention compatible with a normal social/family life. When calories are high, more frequent (~5-6) can keep meals from becoming too large (not to mention keeping your stomach from being huge after each meal). There are other things to consider such as glucose control, psychological issues (not letting your life revolve around food/worrying about where your next meal is coming from, etc), and timing of pre and post workout meals/snacks…but I think 3-4 vs 5-6 comes down to personal preference and again, keeping per-meal portion sizes within a tolerable range.
    There is also some newish data suggesting that eating protein too often may be sub-optimal, but I don't remember the details. I think it related to people eating more than 6 times a day.

  11. Joe @next level PT 8 years ago

    I've also found that some people adapt to the increased meal frequency and what started as smaller meals gradually become larger and larger until total calories for the day are way up there. This (again, for some) can be harder to do with a lower/more "normal" (3-4) meal frequency, as it can be uncomfortable to have that much food in your stomach. This is speaking of those not monitoring their daily caloric intake of course.

  12. eldon raison 8 years ago

    Hey Will ,liked your comments on the meal debate. In my 20's, could eat 6 per day no problem. 54 now and my goal is to get max macro's from as few calories as I can per day. For me that's three meals plus one post w/o drink of protien and simple carbs. Just can't eat that much anymore. Also, went back to regular creatine monohydrate. Getting great results the way you desolved it in hot water. Thanks. I also take BCAA's and l-glutamine alone with beta alanine. The combo seems to work really good. Take care and keep writing.

    • Author
      willbrink 8 years ago

      Will do, thanx! B)

  13. George 8 years ago

    Hi! Great work! Personally, I find eating 4-5 meals a day, works better for me, I eat less overall and feel less hungry though out the day…with 1-3 meals, i find myself binge eating (feeling really hungry when I sit down to eat)…
    And I get better results with being more frequent eater…psychological and/or physical stimulus… doesn't matter…
    Results do.

  14. jeff thompson 8 years ago

    Great job, Will. Superb practical information. We need more like this for the masses. Too many people get caught up in minutia that doesn’t apply to them. Very refreshing.

  15. sycho 8 years ago

    Thanks Will. You da Man. With so many pseudo science sites giving conflicting info; I’m glad I stumbled upon yours. I eat 6-7 times/day out of habit now, but sometimes it caused a little OCD on days I’m busy. Now I know I was worried for nothing.

  16. Hector 8 years ago

    Totally agree. I believe in 5 meals a day, 2 big ones (breakfast and lunch) and a snack between breakfast and lunch (post-workout drink if trained in morning) as well as a snack between lunch and dinner (post workout drink in case worked out in afternoon) with a light dinner. Then again, it all depends to how hungry I feel and if I worked out or not. Two big meals a day? I’d watch out for that. Being a person who’s suffered from IBS (unfortunately), I’ve come to learn that overindulging yourself in one moment could cause a shock to your digestive system and you could suffer from severe indigestion (again please correct me if I’m wrong). Once the shock kicks in, your body won’t digest properly, and things could even escalate to a worse scenario.
    Anyways, loved the video! Hope to see more!

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