T Nation

Meal Frequency and Insulin

Dr. Art De Vany said in Chris Shugart’s article, Evolutionary Fitness, "Many meals per day reduce insulin spikes a bit, but by substituting a nearly constant flow. Hence, total insulin is increased over the course of the day eating six or seven meals. This will make you more resistant to the action of insulin. Hence, your body must make more of it.

As your insulin drifts upward and you become resistant, you’re on your way to the Metabolic Syndrome X: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, and a pre-diabetic state. No wonder a number of bodybuilders develop diabetes."

However, a lot of other fitness experts such as Clarence bass and fitness books such as the NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training seem to say that small but frequent meals stabilize blood glucose and improves insulin resistance. What is one supposed to do?

First, dont believe everything you read.

I WISH I had paid more attention to Art De Vany all those years ago when he did this interview. Unfortunately, at the time he was flanked by tons of other “Experts” all espousing the benefits of 5-6 multiple meal feedings. My physique would be completely different by now (for the better) if I had been able to shirk off the rest of the bro-science and went more along his lines.

Less meals is better. Even if calories are the same. Because with multiple meals you have smaller peaks of insulin, but it is elevated the whole time which means you are always anabolic. But in this case anabolic means fat storing. Its much better to strategically spike insulin when you need it rather than having a constant ebb.

^^ what Glitch.e said

unless your goals require kcal intake that cannot be practically spread over fewer than 5-6 meals, you aren’t doing your body any favors by eating that often

[quote]chillain wrote:
^^ what Glitch.e said

unless your goals require kcal intake that cannot be practically spread over fewer than 5-6 meals, you aren’t doing your body any favors by eating that often

[/quote]
Yeah I should have put a disclaimer in there for people who need extremme calories. They may have no choice but to eat constantly. But for most people (especially in the physique developement community) theres no real need to eat so many meals.

^how many meals woulds you recommend a day then. excluding anybody in strongman or in season athlete or anyone else in need of extreme caloric intake. anybody in the 3000-4000 calorie range?

Would eating frequent keto meals bring the same result?

[quote]xfactor3236 wrote:
^how many meals woulds you recommend a day then. excluding anybody in strongman or in season athlete or anyone else in need of extreme caloric intake. anybody in the 3000-4000 calorie range?[/quote]
Should be doable in 3. Maybe 4 if you have to.

As an example since I eat more on training days I usually have 3-4 meals to get it in. But on non workout days where I eat less I usually eat 2-3. Weekends might only be 2 meals since I usually eat out and eat big at night on these days.

The beauty in this is once you get rid of the mindset of eating every 3 hours or whatever it free’s you up to do other stuff and to eat when you actually physically need to. Provided you make sure you eat enough there is no detriment to anyone with physique enhancement/strength goals. And many bonuses to go with it as well! Such as less bodyfat.

[quote]Iron Dwarf wrote:
Would eating frequent keto meals bring the same result?[/quote]
Depends on size of these meals and how much protein/fat is in them. Small, lower protein meals wouldnt. But then why would anyone eat small meals? Since small meals most likely wouldnt meet the threshold required to stimulate maximum protein synthesis. You could add leucine to get up to the threshold to induce maximum protein synthesis, but then Id wager that would also produce enough insulin to be detrimental. Easiest solution is 3 large meals.

[quote]Gl;itch.e wrote:

[quote]Iron Dwarf wrote:
Would eating frequent keto meals bring the same result?[/quote]
Depends on size of these meals and how much protein/fat is in them. Small, lower protein meals wouldnt. But then why would anyone eat small meals? Since small meals most likely wouldnt meet the threshold required to stimulate maximum protein synthesis. You could add leucine to get up to the threshold to induce maximum protein synthesis, but then Id wager that would also produce enough insulin to be detrimental. Easiest solution is 3 large meals.[/quote]

Thanks Glitch!

Eating 3 big meals sounds like more fun anyway.

[quote]Iron Dwarf wrote:

[quote]Gl;itch.e wrote:

[quote]Iron Dwarf wrote:
Would eating frequent keto meals bring the same result?[/quote]
Depends on size of these meals and how much protein/fat is in them. Small, lower protein meals wouldnt. But then why would anyone eat small meals? Since small meals most likely wouldnt meet the threshold required to stimulate maximum protein synthesis. You could add leucine to get up to the threshold to induce maximum protein synthesis, but then Id wager that would also produce enough insulin to be detrimental. Easiest solution is 3 large meals.[/quote]

Thanks Glitch!

Eating 3 big meals sounds like more fun anyway.

[/quote]
It certainly is! It’s good to feel normal and even freak out the “normals” with this as well! Love eating out with friends who know Im into all this stuff, and then just pound the food, carbs and desserts etc.

what dictates a meal for you? a certain calorie number, what i mean is what about PWO shakes or things of that sort. does that not constitute a meal or does it just coincide with an actual meal

[quote]xfactor3236 wrote:
what dictates a meal for you? a certain calorie number, what i mean is what about PWO shakes or things of that sort. does that not constitute a meal or does it just coincide with an actual meal[/quote]
Any time you eat. You should never be snacking (the worst crime in the war against insulin!), you should be eating decent sized “meals” with nothing caloric between.

I would consider a PWO shake as a meal, or better yet, part of a meal. For instance I have a shake after training before I start cooking my pwo meal. Theres no significant time between the shake and the “meal” so it could be viewed as all one thing.

i sometimes eat twice a day. still get a full 3-4k a day. But most days, it’s 3.

Serge Nubert was a two meal a day type.

[quote]Gl;itch.e wrote:

[quote]xfactor3236 wrote:
what dictates a meal for you? a certain calorie number, what i mean is what about PWO shakes or things of that sort. does that not constitute a meal or does it just coincide with an actual meal[/quote]
Any time you eat. You should never be snacking (the worst crime in the war against insulin!), you should be eating decent sized “meals” with nothing caloric between.

I would consider a PWO shake as a meal, or better yet, part of a meal. For instance I have a shake after training before I start cooking my pwo meal. Theres no significant time between the shake and the “meal” so it could be viewed as all one thing. [/quote]

So far, I have been trying to eat about 2600 calories with approx. 25% protein, 25% fat, and 50% carbs, and I have been finding it impossible for me to consume all that with 4 meals per day without feeling “stuffed” during each meal. So what if I instead had 3 or 4 main meals moderate to large in size, balanced in nutrients and then a 2 or 3 light sized snacks balanced in nutrients as well throughout the day?

[quote]xfactor3236 wrote:
^how many meals woulds you recommend a day then. excluding anybody in strongman or in season athlete or anyone else in need of extreme caloric intake. anybody in the 3000-4000 calorie range?[/quote]

Get over 5000 and its 1 meal and 1 feeding window. Depnds on your stomach capacity

[quote]xfactor3236 wrote:
^how many meals woulds you recommend a day then. excluding anybody in strongman or in season athlete or anyone else in need of extreme caloric intake. anybody in the 3000-4000 calorie range?[/quote]

I try and get 4 a day at about 800 cals apiece with my post workout shake being a scoop of gatorade powder and scoop of protein (300-ish cals). I’m roughly at 3,500 right there. It’s pretty easy, and eating when hungry (as opposed to by the clock) is fucking awesome. Eating well is obviously hugely important in this endeavor, but being a slave to the fork sucks.

[quote]WhiteFlash wrote:
Eating well is obviously hugely important in this endeavor, but being a slave to the fork sucks.[/quote]

I suspect its largely a personality thing.

The OCD-types likely thrive on hitting meals/feedings as scheduled, while the less rigid types prefer quite the opposite.

[quote]Gl;itch.e wrote:
First, dont believe everything you read.

I WISH I had paid more attention to Art De Vany all those years ago when he did this interview. Unfortunately, at the time he was flanked by tons of other “Experts” all espousing the benefits of 5-6 multiple meal feedings. My physique would be completely different by now (for the better) if I had been able to shirk off the rest of the bro-science and went more along his lines.

Less meals is better. Even if calories are the same. Because with multiple meals you have smaller peaks of insulin, but it is elevated the whole time which means you are always anabolic. But in this case anabolic means fat storing. Its much better to strategically spike insulin when you need it rather than having a constant ebb.

[/quote]

^this

Insulin is raised no matter what type of food you eat, low gi high gi etc… Having small meals throughout the day basically is asking for raised insulin all day… Some debate having the small meals keeps your insulin “stable” for less cravings and hunger… id rather eat 2-3 meals a day. Or not even care but knowing im in a deficit or surplus depending on my goals