T Nation

Feeding Frequency, Questioning the Dogma

Are the benefits of eating 6-8 small meals a day exaggerated? Not that doing so is bad, and subjectively it may well be the best way for those wanting to bulk to get their calories in and the best way for those wanting 6 pack abs not to over eat.

It is the objective data I am questioning. I could post several journal articles and write a convincing article for why eating several small meals is great. I could also do the converse and cite articles and compose a convincing paper that doing so had no real positive effect.

Looking at all the research it seems that eating several small meals has strong evidence for a favorable lipid profile. It has a very slight effect of preserving lean body mass. It does not seem to conclusively increase metabolism. The last point was surprising because I thought this would have had the strongest backing.

I know Serge Nubret would usually eat 2 meals a day, and it was not uncommon for him to eat only one.

I think eating many small meals is still probably the best way to go, it is just the advantage of doing so versus eating 3 meals with appropriate calories and protein is much more subtle than one would be led to believe based on the current dogma.

It has some slight proven benefits, but maybe its greatest benefit is it just keeps people focused whether they want to build muscle or lose fat.

Thoughts?

I like eating constantly, because food is fucking rad.

That’s really my only thought about that.

I’m going to go eat now.

[quote]icecold wrote:
Are the benefits of eating 6-8 small meals a day exaggerated? Not that doing so is bad, and subjectively it may well be the best way for those wanting to bulk to get their calories in and the best way for those wanting 6 pack abs not to over eat.

It is the objective data I am questioning. I could post several journal articles and write a convincing article for why eating several small meals is great. I could also do the converse and cite articles and compose a convincing paper that doing so had no real positive effect.

Looking at all the research it seems that eating several small meals has strong evidence for a favorable lipid profile. It has a very slight effect of preserving lean body mass. It does not seem to conclusively increase metabolism. The last point was surprising because I thought this would have had the strongest backing.

I know Serge Nubret would usually eat 2 meals a day, and it was not uncommon for him to eat only one.

I think eating many small meals is still probably the best way to go, it is just the advantage of doing so versus eating 3 meals with appropriate calories and protein is much more subtle than one would be led to believe based on the current dogma.

It has some slight proven benefits, but maybe its greatest benefit is it just keeps people focused whether they want to build muscle or lose fat.

Thoughts?
[/quote]

Wait, so now, not only did Serge used to eat 7lbs of beef a day, but he did all of this in just ONE meal? There is so much conflicting info flying around about that man that believing any of it at face value without question would be a huge mistake.

The main reason I eat several times a day is because I need the calories and the protein. I need enough protein that it would be impossible to eat that much in only one or two meals…and that would mean less muscle growth if I don’t have the calories or less muscle retention if I am dieting and don’t have the increased protein intake.

Boosting the metabolism needs to be considered along those lines as well, not in terms of acting like a thermogenic, but in terms of allowing more nutrients to be processed over a given amount of time as opposed to having a metabolism so slow that you would have to reduce overall intake. That would lead to less growth and less progress.

Obviously, someone whose goals include looking as average as possible would have less true need for eating this way or making sure they get 6 or more meals a day down.

The confusion often comes when average people jump into an equation meant for those who want to be “above average”.