It’s no mystery. Science has officially made the call on correct nutrient timing, and how many times per day is appropriate to eat for maximum health, longevity, fat loss and heroic abs. According to a major fitness magazine; by dividing your daily caloric needs into 6 small meals, you reap the following benefits:
decreased hunger pangs
no muscle breakdown from the “starvation effect”
Unfortunately, all of this widely distributed fitness advice is one metric load of shit.
The science behind the six meal per day theory is lacking legitimate evidence, and any studies that have been used to show any of the aforementioned benefits are taken out of context and used in a incorrect or questionable manner.
However, this has not always been the reigning scientific theory on correct eating. Up until the mid 90’s a diet of 3 square meals was prescribed by experts and utilized with effectiveness by many of the old time strong men and some of the first bodybuilders like Charles Atlas, Aurthur Saxon, and Vince Gironda, all who saw impressive results.
The 6 meal theory, which will henceforth be referred to as “bro-science” reared its head with the advent of protein powders, meal replacement shakes, bars, and all kinds of other nasty crap. The supplement companies (whom surprisingly enough own all of the major muscle and fitness magazines) started touting a new diet style of 3 meals per day with 3 shakes per day. This surprisingly drove the supplement sales way up, while keeping people in a stagnant position in their own fitness regimes.
I’ll debunk the two major myths surrounding meal timing, and tell you how you can be free from the tyranny of eating all the time.
1) Eating every 2-3 hours keeps the fires of your metabolism stoked
For years, I fell for this lie, eating by the clock, shoveling food down my throat at horrible intervals, bringing tupperware with me eve3rywhere, and generally being very sad whenever people went out to eat, or second dinner time rolled around….again.
Unfortunately for me, my naivete kept me from using my brain do to 18 seconds of thinking for myself on the subject and asking pertinent questions like “Does all my food digest in 2 hours?” “Why can I only absorb 30 grams of protein at a time?” “If my muscles break down after going 3 hour without food, how did cavemen survive?” So it’s ok to feel stupid. You’re in good company.
The truth of the matter is that food, especially proteins, and foods high in fiber break down very slowly in the stomach and small intestine. Don’t believe me? Eat beets for breakfast tomorrow. Let me know how long it takes to see them again. Actually, don’t let me know. I don’t care. Eating a big healthy dinner can give you enough fuel for a big workout at noon the next day without eating 17 times in between.
The thing that eating 6x per day is good for is increasing your blood glucose levels, which if done for a extended period of time (upwards of 2 years) can severely alter your bodies natural chemistry and cause you too lose out on your insulin sensitivity, which is great for getting diabetes, not absorbing food as well, and storing massive amounts of fat. Hooray!
By letting insulin do its job and transport that glucose out of your blood stream and into your muscles and not bombarding it with food every 2 hours, you allow the natural processes of your body to take place and keep your running better, faster and cleaner. Don’t mess with your body. It’s smarter than you.
2) Eating a breakfast first thing in the morning jump starts your metabolism, and keeps your body from eating your muscles.
Remember what I said about your body being smarter than you? I maintain that sentiment. If your body was really going to dip into your hard earned muscle stores after a paltry 7 or 8 hours of sleep, I don’t know that the human race would have made it this far. Humans used to be nomadic, hunting and gathering, not farming. So whenever you have a question about the intricacies of training or eating, just ask yourself if your caveman ancestors would have done it.
…That’s a rough litmus test. Don’t take that one too far.
Fact: your metabolism is actually running faster in the morning after 8 hours of fasting partly due to the fact that your body is more insulin sensitive. But here’s the good part: YOU CAN ACTUALLY FAST FOR UP TO 70 HOURS BEFORE YOUR BODY BREAKS DOWN ANY MUSCLE. This is good to know for a few reasons. It means you can take your time before you eat in the morning, and it also means that the occasional fast is
a) good for you
b) good for fat loss
c) good for increasing lean body mass (muscle)
and d) good for increasing mental awareness and generally badassery.
If all of the above was boring/confusing/lacking pictures of abs Let me sum it up for you. You can eat 1, 2, or 3 times per day and be just as lean if not leaner than someone who eats 6x per day. In order to give your body a break from the strain of eating all the time, it’s healthy to fast occasionally (once every month is fine) for 24-48 hours. If you can do this, you’re strong, awesome and beautiful.
Coming soon: A diet that uses the principles of intermittent fasting to create lean muscular physiques by focusing on nutrient timing around the workouts.I’ll be trying it for the next 60 days in order to tweak and fine tune it so that you can benefit from my mistakes.