T Nation

Why 5-6 Meals a Day?

 Sometimes I eat 3 big meals a day, meaning eating until I'm completely full.  What's the difference in that way and 5-6 small meals a day?


Well you said you wanted to gain size on your other thread so eating more often would mean more food fundamentally. Using myself as an example I eat 400+ grams of protein a day and I'd be killing myself trying to get in 130+ grams a meal.

Not only is that a ton of food, but the body likely wouldn't even be able to use all of that at once. But splitting it up into 6-7 meals makes it for more manageable to eat the amounts I need without stuffing myself to discomfort.


Start reading some of the older nutrition articles, it'll make more sense.

However, the two top reasons are probably: 1, to pack in as many calories as you can without having a ton of food sitting in your gut at one feeding, and 2, the thermogenic effect of food or TEF as it's otherwise known, which helps increase metabolism.

Can you imagine trying to eat 4000+ calories in 3 meals? Have fun. :slightly_smiling:


Increases your metabolism and keeps your blood sugar levels from spiking = more muscle mass and less fat.


a pro on another forum recommended aiming for 10+ meals a day...


Why 5-6 why not 7-8?

I have a much easier time packing in lots of calories when eating more meals! Simple,

when dieting I stick to 8 meals as well as it keeps me from being really hungry throughout the day.

Some people do eat 3-4 bigger meals a day and are big and lean so just find what works best for your schedule and body.


As far as fatloss goes, your body only uses a certain amount at one sitting if you eat more than that, it is stored as fat. If you needed 3000 calories per day and you at them all in one sitting you would store whatever you couldn't use in the next 2-4 hours as fat.


There is a metabolic tax in the form of feeding. Quite simple the more often you eat the higher your metabolic rate. Also having smaller meals gives a chance for your body to actually utilize the food that you're eating as opposed to storing it as fat, by keeping a stable blood sugar. By doing so means your body does not have to break down body fat and muscle to give you energy when your blood sugar is low after a insulin spike.


It needs to be kept in mind that any increases in metabolic rate still will be less than the number of calories consumed at that feeding. Eating with the SOLE intent of increasing metabolic rate (to burn fat) is not worth it.


I eat based on my schedule. Which normally means several larger meals vs. a bunch of smaller ones.

It works, but I generally prefer to eat a lot of smaller ones.


a 14 oz steak and some beans with a glass of milk will get you over 130 grams of protein. I would imagine you'd just shit most of it however.

It's my understanding that the benefit of many meals is to boost the metabolism, but I guess that depends on what and how much you eat at each meal.


I usually work best on 7-8 meals a day, all in all it works better for nutrient uptake and you can have higher calories with out the waste or bloated feeling and remember, just because your eating more frequently doesn't mean the meals have to be small!!


There is a diminishing returns effect on adding more meals. 5-6 per day is the optimum portion of the curve. 7-8 won't hurt you, but it won't help much either.


Sure, that's easy, you'd just have to use more calorie dense foods like nuts and mayonnaise, or drinks with calories like orange juice to up the total. Heck, even just steak and cheese could get you there pretty easily. (I'm not saying this is a good idea, just that it wouldn't be hard.)


mmmm How about a walnut-crusted 20-ounce primerib, slathered in a three-cheese and spicy mayo sauce, along with a large baked potato covered in butter and chives, and wash it down with a 2 liter carafe of orange-cranberry juice. Finish up with 4 Flameout and a PB & Chocolate Metabolic Drive smoothie? :smiley:


Ha if I could afford 14 oz steak 3 times a day I'd be a much happier man. But yeah agreed, I don't THINK my body could come close to using it all.


Probably not. You would take excellent naps though.


I find myself doing 4-5-usually 5- I don't understand how you could only do 2-3 seems like so much time in between food.