T Nation

Research on High Number of Meals?

I was recently reading an interview with Alwyn Cosgrove discussing nutrition and diet habits, and he said “there is no research to suggest that higher meal frequency contributes anything over a
lesser frequency.”

I know the general rationale behind this notion–multiple meals speed up metabolism and contribute to a more stable insulin response. That said, if there is no evidence to support this idea, then perhaps it is mistaken.

So is a) Cosgrove mistaken and there is data to support this widely held belief, is he correct, but there just hasn’t been a lot of research (and it would probably confirm popular wisdom if there were), or c) this is really just a bit of a myth and while it sounds good, it doesn’t hold up in reality.

I believe he is right. The magic of 6 meals incredibly boosting metabolism for fat loss and one needing protein 6 times a day for building muscle is over exaggerated.

The average American may not get enough protein, have too many carbs and get most of their calories at night. This is bad.

3 meals evenly space time wise and calorie wise for ones goals with perhaps more attention to time around workout has not been proven to be inferior to 6 meals. For those who do not have the time or desire to eat 6 meals they are not screwed.

I think the current research show that at least 3 meals daily is superior to all this intermittent fasting crap people keep talking about. Maybe some merit for life extension by calorie restriction, but they could still probably reach their goals with 3 very small meals.

Functionally even if not scientifically though, eating 6 meals helps many people with fat loss or gaining muscle. Many people that need to eat serious calories have trouble getting in their calories and protein in only 3 meals and would feel incredibly bloated and lethargic with only 3 meals. For those trying to lose weight the discipline of eating many meals keeps them away from shit food and cravings and keeps them focusing on their next healthy meal. So the dogma is not without merit and has helped many to both lose weight when they want to and build muscle when they want to as well. The dogma is not going away anytime soon for these reasons alone.

So based on current research, as far as I know, do what works for you best you on a functional level and do not stress about the science until it more conclusively proves a clear advantage.

i think its because, most foods take around 3-4 hours maximum to digest. veggies take less time as does fruit. meat takes longer. and portion sizes reduce or elongate the time.
so making your gut work constantly would be somewhat similar to exercise. you train your system to perform with an expectation of food every few hours.
Just my theory. As an aside, i believe the 4-6 meal a day is better at proportioning more calories toward the earlier half, when the body is doing work and uses the calories rather than storing them while sleeping.

P.S. I am reasonably certain that David Barr had an article about this topic on this website somewhere

found it:
"21st century eating:

http://www.T-Nation.com/article/diet_and_nutrition/21st_century_eating&cr=

Yep. There have been studies out there that have proven that smaller more frequent meals do not speed up metabolism.

Even if it has no effect on metabolism. Does it really make sense to get 5000 calories in 2 or 3 meals? seems like you wouldn’t be able to effectively utilize the macronutrient breakdown of those calories nearly as effectively than if you consumed meals more frequently.

Still though, whenever I am consistently eating 6+ meals a day, I find that whenever I miss one, I get hungry. As if I had trained my metabolism to function on a different scale. Meanwhile, if, for whatever reason, I go for a few days eating only 1 or 2 meals(highly irregular, but it has happened) my body quickly adjusts to not feel hungry quite as easily.

http://alanaragon.com/an-objective-look-at-intermittent-fasting.html

Read the part in there about meal frequency.

I think it’s more about WHAT you eat than the frequency. High quality, clean food will rev things up, junk- not so much

Wasn’t it Berardi who mentioned a study where 2 groups of people ate the same # of calories, but over different frequencies?

The group that ate more frequently, saw improvements in cholesterol, triglycerides, as well as body comp?

Besides, since when has this site been all about studies? Studies are often times behind that of real world results.

And quite frankly, those that eat more frequently tend to be in better shape physically.

[quote]Malevolence wrote:
Still though, whenever I am consistently eating 6+ meals a day, I find that whenever I miss one, I get hungry. As if I had trained my metabolism to function on a different scale. [/quote]

That’s not your metabolism you’re feeling, but your hypothalamus’ regulation of your appetite. The feeling of hunger is a very conditioned response, like Pavolv’s Dogs.

[quote]Evil1 wrote:
found it:
"21st century eating:

http://www.T-Nation.com/article/diet_and_nutrition/21st_century_eating&cr=[/quote]

Thanks. Should have been able to count on Dave Barr backing up anything that ran contrary to dogma.

Evil, it takes longer than 4 hours for most food to digest, unless you are eating shit foods. In Alan’s article he says that it takes 6-7 hours to process casein protein.

Okay I didn’t read this whole thread just the first post so sorry for being lazy but there was a study on this. Two groups of people each on 1200 kcal/day diets. One group ate 6 200 kcal meals/day the other 2 600 kcal meals a day. Both groups lost the same amount of weight. The group that had the 6 meals lost a much larger percentage of fat.

Eating more frequently doesn’t boost you metabolism, it just favors a favorable body composition.

[quote]markdp wrote:

Eating more frequently doesn’t boost you metabolism, it just favors a favorable body composition.[/quote]

who cares about that? it’s all about weight :wink: j/k of course

Fine. Eat 3 meals a day and see how that works out for you. LOL.

I’m not sure why, but studies have also pointed out that people that eat lower calories live longer.