The age old question of how many times one should eat per day to achieve the best results with weight loss and lean muscle enhancement, has to be in the top 3 questions we are asked routinely as it pertains meal prep and living a healthy lifestyle.
With so much conflicting information circulating on the Internet, how can one be sure they’re doing the “right thing” as it relates to their fitness goals? Today I’m going to provide clarity once and for all…
So how many times should you be eating per day?
Well….That really depends on so many things, but the reality is the number of times you’re eating per day is nowhere close to as important as the following:
1) Portion Control
Prepared Nutrition is making sure you are eating balanced meals that are properly portioned toward YOUR goals and lifestyle (not that of your favorite celeb or Instagram fitness personality).
2) Meal Timing
The timing of your meals is super important to this process. And it’s not the duration of hours and minutes that pass between meals that matter, but once we determine what that interval is, (which be dictated in part by the # of meals we decide will work best for our personal needs) we stick to it like clockwork.
3) Consuming Healthy Foods
Duh. That’s why Prepared Nutrition is here!
The “secret” to accomplishing literally anything in life is staying consistent with your approach. Not some of the time, not doing a couple things the right way and 1/2 stepping the other 3, literally applying the most amount of effort each and every time. In this case making sure we stay ridiculously consistent with:
- Meal Timing
- Eating Healthy
If you’re 1/2 assing the work, plan on getting 1/2 ass results.
So is there an ideal meal frequency to improve efficiency with and optimize fat loss, muscle growth, speed up our metabolisms, and overall make us healthier people?
Too many studies have investigated this question, and the good news is the results are fairly conclusive. When subjects consume the same total calories split between two versus six meals, one versus three versus five meals, or two versus 3-5 meals, there was no difference in metabolic rate in overweight or obese individuals. Also, no difference in metabolic rate (calories the body will burn on its own over a 24 hour period) was noted between subjects who were considered to be at a “healthy weight”, whether they consumed 2 or 7 meals daily.
It is not practical for most people to eat a finally tuned, well balanced diet eating just twice a day. I mean you would have to be really spot on with your portions, and in order to maintain and be successful with this meal frequency, live a pretty inactive lifestyle and not workout.
Spikes in metabolic rates (exercise) will need to be supported by proper nutrition in order to obtain desired results with the body. In layman’s terms, when we workout we typically get hungry after the fact, and unless we desire to live life in a constant state of hunger and aggravation, it’s not practical to think those of us living active lifestyles will be able to reach our goals eating 2x a day.
What About All This Talk About How I Need To Eat 5-6x a Day To Lose Weight?
It’s a myth. Nothing more.
Yes you can lose weight eating this way. Just like you can by eating 2-4x a day.
The question you need to ask yourself is if you are capable of eating this frequently on a consistent basis. The reality is only the most disciplined and fortunate of us have the ability to do this. This myth most likely originated from the bodybuilding world. Bodybuilders & fitness competitors will eat 6x a day in preparation for competition in order to achieve a lean, shredded, and aesthetic physique. “Society” picked up on this and came to the conclusion if it works for them, it’ll work for us!
Sounds reasonable right? Wrong….
Fitness competitors put themselves in a dangerous calorie deficit to achieve “the look” we see on the magazines and in pictures on social media. We are led to believe these physiques are maintained year round, and naturally aspire to model this in our own lives.
TRUTH: Your body cannot exist in such a deficit for too long, which is why most competitors gain 20-50 pounds and look nothing like their competition pics when they are not prepping.
So how many times should YOU eat per day?
Only you can answer that based off the information I provided. With my company, Prepared Nutrition I have my clients work around a 4x a day meal plan. This gives them the opportunity to space meals out, not have to worry about eating every 2 hours, and allows our company to provide the variety within the diet which I firmly believe is directly proportional to sustainability and the overall success of ones diet and body goals. Of course I have some clients who require additional calories and supplement around those 4 meals, but the 4 meal system has worked out exceptionally well and in my opinion seems to be the sweet spot as far as a happy medium for our average clients lifestyle.
I hope this has helped in some way, and wish you continued success and prosperity on your fitness journey!
Please share with anyone who may need help with accomplishing their goals.
If you have any questions for us here at Prepared Nutrition, don’t hesitate to call of email