The battle of meal frequency


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In the fitness community, one of the most debatable topic is meal frequency. Meal frequency simply refers to a type of eating pattern(not a diet) which determines the amount of meals eaten per day. Depending on who you ask if which particular diet religion a person or an expert belong, depending on what type of diet or service they are trying to sell you, they’d often tell you that one is better than the other or vice-versa. So, the question is, which is actually better? The answer is of course the ever popular it depends answer. While many minimalist will give you a simplified answer that meal frequency doesn’t matter, depending on a specific context of scenario, meal frequency does matter. My purpose of writing this blog is for you guys to be able to identify if which eating pattern might be optimal for your preference, and or your specific goal. Now, I will try to compare a typical 3x a day eating pattern versus 6x a day multiple meal frequency eating pattern.

Let the tournament begin:

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*3x a day eating pattern

Pros:
1.) It allows you to eat bigger portions of meals – this can be quite handy for people who are on a reduced calorie diet who requires little amount of calories to maintain their body weight.

2.) Probably more convenient – this especially applies to people who have busy lifestyle who would rather do other things than worrying about eating every 2 or 3 hrs. Folks who are using Intermittent fasting diet typically uses this approach.

3.) Potential advantage of a no-brainer fat loss – on a simplified explanation, try to limit the amount of meals eaten per day, depending on which foods make up a person’s diet, this may lead to an unconscious calorie restriction. I’m not saying that 3x a day meal frequency would automatically be better than 6x a day meal frequency, for people who does not track their calorie intake, it just may have an advantage on restricting calories especially to some people who consumes the bulk of their diet from low-calorie, nutrient-dense food sources(clean eating type).

4.) Psychological benefit – especially to people who are already eating a very low calorie diet, eating big may get rid of the feeling of “diet deprivation.”

Cons:

1.) Not everyone like eating huge portions

2.) People seeking weight gain who are not big eaters may have a harder time consuming adequate amount of calories to promote weight gain unless he/ she would focus on eating calorie-dense food sources such as fast foods and alike.

3.) In the context of nutrient timing, a person who eats less frequently a day may have to drive his/ her meals as close as possible to his/ her workout in order to take advantage of nutrient partitioning and, or ergogenic benefits.

4.) People who have insulin problems might experience an insulin crash and spiking problems.

5.) People who doesn’t watch how much and what they eat may end up consuming too many calories which can be contradicting if their goal is fat loss.

*6x a day(multiple meals) eating pattern

Pros:

1.) Folks who are not big eaters may perform/ feel better on frequent meal nibbling. People who have problems maintaining their blood glucose levels may be better off using this approach in order for them to maintain a constant glucose/ insulin supply rather than crashing and spiking insulin back up.

2.) Potential advantage on early satiety therefore may have potential benefit on preventing overeating too many calories. These people normally eat 3 small meals and 3 small snacks.

3.) Advantage on timing nutrient. Since these people eats more frequently, these people doesn’t have to worry about timing their meals as close as possible to their training bouts.

4.) Potential advantage on easier digestion. These applies especially to people with gastric problems.

5.) People who are trying to gain weight who likes eating small meals may have the advantage to meet their caloric requirements to gain weight.

Cons:

1.) Some people especially those who are dieting down for fat loss yet enjoys eating bigger meals may feel deprived on this eating pattern.

2.) If calories aren’t controlled, this type of eating pattern may lead to overconsumption of too many calories if the goal is fat loss.

3.) It may be inconvenient to some people. Since these people eats more frequently, they spend more time preparing their foods in food containers. Some people who works long-hr shifts who have hectic schedule may find eating multiple meals inconvenient and not practical.

In the end, what matters more is the amount of total calories and proper macronutrient distribution to meet a specific goal. I enumerated some points of interest above in order for you guys to identify if which type of eating may suit your lifestyle or preference. The truth is that it’s the irregular meal frequency that causes negative effects such as lowered postprandial energy expenditure than of regular meal frequency thus irregular meal frequency have shown to cause a degree of insulin resistance and higher fasting lipid profiles.

Share and enjoy.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15220950

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15085170

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  1. September 25th, 2011

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