T Nation

Optimal Way to Set Up Meals

After years of eating IF style I have decided to switch back to the traditional 4-6 meals. Reasons being while gaining it is too much food to be eating in the time given since I like o also have my fair share of veggies. Also, it seems after some reading from past threads and new postings that having such a large amount of food in a small window can mess with BS levels, cortisol, and the look of muscles through out the day as well as smaller amounts of protein through the day is better for building muscle.

My question for those who follow this type of diet is how would you set it up when trying to gain muscle optimally? Many like Stu and BBB prefer to keep most if not all their carbs pre- training while have little to no carbs PWO. After trying this for about a week I like how I feel. If you all train in the evening do your meals grow as you get closer to pre workout followed by a larg carb free PWO meal or do you eat what you want through out the day calorie wise (P+F)? Do some taper calories?

Well, to build muscle, you need a caloric surplus. I think a good starting point is to increase your maintenance calories by 10-20%… 17-18 cal/lb is a good starting point, but this depends on your weight of course. You may need more, you may need less.

Protein can be 1.0 - 1.25 g/lb. Some people recommend 1.5 g/lb but I find that a huge bitch to eat, and I don’t think the extra protein is necessary.

Carbs depend on your insulin sensitivity (or rather nutrient sensitivity). I think the bare minimum here would be 1 g/lb, but this depends on how well you know you body. So carbs are anywhere from 1-2 g/lb. Possibly even more if your genetic insulin sensitivity is tops.

Fats would just be the remainder of your calories. I personally don’t like venturing below 20% of total kcal coming from fat… 15% would be the bare minimum in terms of getting all your EFA’s and whatnot, but I think at least 20% is great from a satiety, convenience, and hormonal standpoint. So fats would be 20-25%.

I got my macros in order. I am asking how to best set up daily meals. Say you have 5 meals and are training in the evening would it be best to:

meal 1- small P+F little to no carbs

meal 2- Small p+f

meal 3- large p+c some fat

train 2-3 hours later with some fast acting carbs if desired

meal 4- largest meal p+f

meal 5- small meal p+f

Carbs pre-workout and in the morning are best in my opinion. I also like my pre workout to be the largest meal to provide everything needed to build muscle.

Meal 1 - Medium P+F+C (like eggs and oatmeal)
Meal 2 - Small p+f
Meal 3 - Small p+f
Meal 3- Largest P+C
Meal 4 - Peri-workout nutrition
Meal 5 - Small p+f

That’s how my coach has had me doing things and it has worked great so far.

[quote]xXSeraphimXx wrote:
I got my macros in order. I am asking how to best set up daily meals. Say you have 5 meals and are training in the evening would it be best to:

meal 1- small P+F little to no carbs

meal 2- Small p+f

meal 3- large p+c some fat

train 2-3 hours later with some fast acting carbs if desired

meal 4- largest meal p+f

meal 5- small meal p+f

[/quote]
Well, to be honest it doesn’t really matter that much where you put your macros. If you have a cup of rice pre-workout, or have it post-workout, at the end of the day you are eating the same macros… so it is personal preference as to how you want to eat, how you feel working out with carbs in your system, or conversely, you can take them all in post-workout.

Now on meal size/frequency, there are some recent studies that saying having larger, fewer meals (3-4 as opposed to 6-8) are better for muscle protein synthesis. Obviously the more calories you take in, the more meals you may need to eat, because simply put some people can’t stuff themselves with something like 800-900 calories per meal.

Another thing for me personally that I love is I simply don’t like preparing more than 2 meals a day… I love getting like near 700 calories from 3 scoops of Plazma, haha. Of course you don’t need Plazma to gain but it sure as hell makes things easy for us trying to gain some muscle, and just hate preparing meals/eating a ton.

[quote]PB Andy wrote:

[quote]xXSeraphimXx wrote:
I got my macros in order. I am asking how to best set up daily meals. Say you have 5 meals and are training in the evening would it be best to:

meal 1- small P+F little to no carbs

meal 2- Small p+f

meal 3- large p+c some fat

train 2-3 hours later with some fast acting carbs if desired

meal 4- largest meal p+f

meal 5- small meal p+f

[/quote]
Well, to be honest it doesn’t really matter that much where you put your macros. If you have a cup of rice pre-workout, or have it post-workout, at the end of the day you are eating the same macros… so it is personal preference as to how you want to eat, how you feel working out with carbs in your system, or conversely, you can take them all in post-workout.

Now on meal size/frequency, there are some recent studies that saying having larger, fewer meals (3-4 as opposed to 6-8) are better for muscle protein synthesis. Obviously the more calories you take in, the more meals you may need to eat, because simply put some people can’t stuff themselves with something like 800-900 calories per meal.[/quote]

For the most part I agree. Priority number one should be getting in the necessary calories if you need 4k eat 4k. I however, have no issue eating what I have to so want to make sure I am eating optimally for the fastest LBM gains. Most recent articles and coaches like John Meadows put a lot of emphasis on the importance of nutrition around training/ carb timing. So, I was wondering if the others meals should be/could be set up in a way to best provide that environment.

[quote]xXSeraphimXx wrote:

[quote]PB Andy wrote:

[quote]xXSeraphimXx wrote:
I got my macros in order. I am asking how to best set up daily meals. Say you have 5 meals and are training in the evening would it be best to:

meal 1- small P+F little to no carbs

meal 2- Small p+f

meal 3- large p+c some fat

train 2-3 hours later with some fast acting carbs if desired

meal 4- largest meal p+f

meal 5- small meal p+f

[/quote]
Well, to be honest it doesn’t really matter that much where you put your macros. If you have a cup of rice pre-workout, or have it post-workout, at the end of the day you are eating the same macros… so it is personal preference as to how you want to eat, how you feel working out with carbs in your system, or conversely, you can take them all in post-workout.

Now on meal size/frequency, there are some recent studies that saying having larger, fewer meals (3-4 as opposed to 6-8) are better for muscle protein synthesis. Obviously the more calories you take in, the more meals you may need to eat, because simply put some people can’t stuff themselves with something like 800-900 calories per meal.[/quote]

For the most part I agree. Priority number one should be getting in the necessary calories if you need 4k eat 4k. I however, have no issue eating what I have to so want to make sure I am eating optimally for the fastest LBM gains. Most recent articles and coaches like John Meadows put a lot of emphasis on the importance of nutrition around training/ carb timing. So, I was wondering if the others meals should be/could be set up in a way to best provide that environment.
[/quote]

Carbs prior to training are probably the only important factor to give you increased intensity while lifting. JM advocates this as well as Stu. I always perform better the more and more peri-workout nutrition I have.

[quote]Ripsaw3689 wrote:
Carbs pre-workout and in the morning are best in my opinion. I also like my pre workout to be the largest meal to provide everything needed to build muscle.

Meal 1 - Medium P+F+C (like eggs and oatmeal)
Meal 2 - Small p+f
Meal 3 - Small p+f
Meal 3- Largest P+C
Meal 4 - Peri-workout nutrition
Meal 5 - Small p+f

That’s how my coach has had me doing things and it has worked great so far.[/quote]

This is how I would go

the two best time to get carbs are in the morning or pre workout

[quote]PB Andy wrote:

Now on meal size/frequency, there are some recent studies that saying having larger, fewer meals (3-4 as opposed to 6-8) are better for muscle protein synthesis. [/quote]

Excuse me, I am a Layne Norton whore.

He says otherwise and I don’t know if he has released the study yet, but a month ago he was talking about how he did a study that showed that spreading protein among 4-5 meals was better than just eating 3 big meals of protein for protein synthesis.

Basically he said you only need 20-40g of protein to maximize protein synthesis and you can do this every 4-5 hours…So it doesn’t really make sense to only eat 3 times a day, or to eat all your protein in an 8 hour window.

[quote]paulieserafini wrote:

[quote]PB Andy wrote:

Now on meal size/frequency, there are some recent studies that saying having larger, fewer meals (3-4 as opposed to 6-8) are better for muscle protein synthesis. [/quote]

Excuse me, I am a Layne Norton whore.

He says otherwise and I don’t know if he has released the study yet, but a month ago he was talking about how he did a study that showed that spreading protein among 4-5 meals was better than just eating 3 big meals of protein for protein synthesis.

Basically he said you only need 20-40g of protein to maximize protein synthesis and you can do this every 4-5 hours…So it doesn’t really make sense to only eat 3 times a day, or to eat all your protein in an 8 hour window.[/quote]

This is what I heard recently to, as well as a study posted on here not to long ago.

[quote]paulieserafini wrote:

[quote]PB Andy wrote:

Now on meal size/frequency, there are some recent studies that saying having larger, fewer meals (3-4 as opposed to 6-8) are better for muscle protein synthesis. [/quote]

Excuse me, I am a Layne Norton whore.

He says otherwise and I don’t know if he has released the study yet, but a month ago he was talking about how he did a study that showed that spreading protein among 4-5 meals was better than just eating 3 big meals of protein for protein synthesis.

Basically he said you only need 20-40g of protein to maximize protein synthesis and you can do this every 4-5 hours…So it doesn’t really make sense to only eat 3 times a day, or to eat all your protein in an 8 hour window.[/quote]

I believe his Thesis for his PHD was on this. It determined that “pulsing” protein throughout the day is the best way to maximize protein synthesis. Similar to what the T-Nation coaches advocate with MAG-10 pulsing protocol.

I’ve read the same recent stuff by Layne Norton. I’m also someone who thinks that carbs in the morning isn’t necessarily the BEST time to eat them. Recently John Meadow’s and John Keifer have found a lot of studies that suggest carbs at night time may more efficient for purposes of keeping bf lower and preserving muscle (there’s a cop study and another one that I can’t recall).

I use to workout without carbs, and it was manageable, but having to lift at a different time or if the night before I hadn’t backloaded effectively my lifts would suffer a bit. I started introducing intra-WO carbs, and it’s made every workout feel awesome. This is how I eat now:

9:30am: Coffee + 2 tbsp VCO, 4 Eggs, Cottage cheese

11:30am: Intra-WO: 60g of Carbs Gatorade + 10g BCAA, 5g Creatine (start sipping 5-10 mins before the gym)

3:00pm: 50g Whey + 1 Bananas, Ezekial Bread + Jam

6:00pm: 8oz Chicken, 2 Cups Jasmine Rice

9:30pm: 50g Whey + 60g OJ, snack (could be fruit, sweets, whatever to hit my carb intake for the day)

Got 4-5 feedings of protein, and keep carbs PWO, which I feel is just more effective for me personally.

[quote]paulieserafini wrote:

[quote]PB Andy wrote:

Now on meal size/frequency, there are some recent studies that saying having larger, fewer meals (3-4 as opposed to 6-8) are better for muscle protein synthesis. [/quote]

Excuse me, I am a Layne Norton whore.

He says otherwise and I don’t know if he has released the study yet, but a month ago he was talking about how he did a study that showed that spreading protein among 4-5 meals was better than just eating 3 big meals of protein for protein synthesis.

Basically he said you only need 20-40g of protein to maximize protein synthesis and you can do this every 4-5 hours…So it doesn’t really make sense to only eat 3 times a day, or to eat all your protein in an 8 hour window.[/quote]
Well that’s what I’m saying… there’s 24 hours in a day, how many meals can you get in a day if you are eating every 4-5 hours? Using a 4 hour time-frame your meals could be at 10am, 2pm, 6pm, 10pm, sleep… sounds like 3-4 meals to me depending on one’s size.

[quote]Ripsaw3689 wrote:

[quote]paulieserafini wrote:

[quote]PB Andy wrote:

Now on meal size/frequency, there are some recent studies that saying having larger, fewer meals (3-4 as opposed to 6-8) are better for muscle protein synthesis. [/quote]

Excuse me, I am a Layne Norton whore.

He says otherwise and I don’t know if he has released the study yet, but a month ago he was talking about how he did a study that showed that spreading protein among 4-5 meals was better than just eating 3 big meals of protein for protein synthesis.

Basically he said you only need 20-40g of protein to maximize protein synthesis and you can do this every 4-5 hours…So it doesn’t really make sense to only eat 3 times a day, or to eat all your protein in an 8 hour window.[/quote]

I believe his Thesis for his PHD was on this. It determined that “pulsing” protein throughout the day is the best way to maximize protein synthesis. Similar to what the T-Nation coaches advocate with MAG-10 pulsing protocol.[/quote]
Right, due to the ‘refractory response’ - “when the muscle synthesis machinery stops responding if you keep amino acids constantly elevated”.

[quote]Spidey22 wrote:
(there’s a cop study and another one that I can’t recall).

[/quote]
To be fair, this was done on clinically obese police officers… doesn’t exactly apply to the trained population (us).

To quote Alan Aragon on this study:

"Method of body composition assessment was not specified (not kidding).
No tracking of dietary intake - let alone software analysis - was mentioned in the text.
No structured exercise program was in place, neither was tracking or control of physical activity.
Obese cops are not the most trustworthy population for self-reported intake (couldn’t help that).
Relevance of this study to the majority of the population interested in CBL is close to zip.

Just looked at the diet prescribed by Sofer et al…

20% protein, 30-35% fat, 45-50% carbohydrates, 1,300-1,500 kcal. How many CBL fans are consuming 65-75 g protein per day?"

[quote]PB Andy wrote:

[quote]Spidey22 wrote:
(there’s a cop study and another one that I can’t recall).

[/quote]
To be fair, this was done on clinically obese police officers… doesn’t exactly apply to the trained population (us).

To quote Alan Aragon on this study:

"Method of body composition assessment was not specified (not kidding).
No tracking of dietary intake - let alone software analysis - was mentioned in the text.
No structured exercise program was in place, neither was tracking or control of physical activity.
Obese cops are not the most trustworthy population for self-reported intake (couldn’t help that).
Relevance of this study to the majority of the population interested in CBL is close to zip.

Just looked at the diet prescribed by Sofer et al…

20% protein, 30-35% fat, 45-50% carbohydrates, 1,300-1,500 kcal. How many CBL fans are consuming 65-75 g protein per day?"[/quote]

I hope I wasn’t coming off as a CBL zealot. lol. AS you can see above, I really don’t do it anymore. lol

But the other study I think may be the better one (I’m an AA fan so I read his reviews). Whatever it was, the one’s NOT eating most their cabs at night lost LESS weight, BUT preserved more muscle maybe? I can’t remember.

Like Layne Norton said, the studies for ‘carbs at night’ aren’t really enough to say carbs in the morning are evil or say CBL is superior. BUT there seems to be some merit, whether it be carb-timing that JM does or a CBL/IF method, that maybe carbs in the morning aren’t the ‘magic’ time to have them like it use to be thought (or at least that’s what i always read, carbs in the morning and around lifting).

@spidey

You said carbs make you sleepy if you have them in the morning right?

for how long? like if you workout two hours after your first meal you will still feel like you’re dragging?

I get sleepy as well shortly after having 50g of carbs from rice for breakfast, but at the 60-120 minute mark I feel full of energy, awake and motivated to workout.

[quote]paulieserafini wrote:
@spidey

You said carbs make you sleepy if you have them in the morning right?

for how long? like if you workout two hours after your first meal you will still feel like you’re dragging?

I get sleepy as well shortly after having 50g of carbs from rice for breakfast, but at the 60-120 minute mark I feel full of energy, awake and motivated to workout.[/quote]

Yeah. Makes me wanna go right back to sleep lol. And yeah, it’s kind of like that… if I give it time I wake back up. But the ‘time’ it takes depends on the carb source, how much I eat, and sometimes just due to my schedule I have to workout earlier, later, etc. So keeping carbs out of my system until right during lifting is beneficial.

Plus, I store most my fat in the love-handle/lower back region and have a strong family history of diabetes, so I feel naturally I don’t do well with carbs without kind of controlling them. So this is all pretty individualized for me lol