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Evidence-based articles & blogs to help with making training more effective, nutrition more flexible & life more enjoyable.
Most people eat 3 square meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some people skip breakfast. Some even eat only One Meal Per Day. You’ve probably seen bodybuilders eating 6 or even more meals out of tupperware containers - because it’s always out of tupperware. But what’s the best when it comes to losing body fat, getting leaner AND keeping it off? Does eating 6 small meals boost your metabolism? Or is it skipping breakfast which lights the fire instead?
Thankfully we have studies providing guidance to answering that exact question.
In this study the subjects were split into two groups:
Group A ate 2 meals per day
Group B ate 6 meals per day
The total daily calories (and macros) were exactly the same in Group A & Group B.
The study used a whole-body calorimeter which measures oxygen consumed & carbon dioxide produced by each subject to precisely calculate the amount of energy expended.
Which group do you think burnt more calories?
Well, it's a trick question - both groups actually had the same total daily energy expenditure.
The 2-meal group had 2 large spikes in energy expenditure after meals, whereas the 6-meal group had 6 smaller spikes.
But the sum total when you add the spikes up, was the same.
There have been plenty of other studies since, asking the same question, and all have drawn the same conclusion.
How many calories you consume is more important for fat loss, than precisely when you consume those calories or how you distribute them across the day.
Stressing about precisely how you structure your meals throughout the day is kind of like trying to micromanage your 8 hour shift at work.
Whether you do 4 hours, have a lunch break, then do another 4 hours…
Or you do 4 lots of 2 hour stints…
You’re getting paid for 8 hours either way.
You’re also eating the same amount of calories either way.
You don’t have to eat every few hours, if you don’t want to.
You also don’t have to skip breakfast.
Who doesn't love breakfast?
But if you're going to take one thing on board from this email (because there are a few more golden nuggets below), it should be that it’s your total daily & weekly calorie intake that matters most.
You want to set your diet up in a way that suits your lifestyle, not the other way around.
With that being said, structuring your meals in a certain way might help you stick to your calorie target if it can manage your hunger and satiety signals better.
Managing hunger is really important. This study concluded that hunger itself was the main predictor of someone’s weight loss success.
So if we can set your diet up in a way to minimize hunger, you’ll be more likely to stick to it and successfully lose fat.
Your food choices - what you eat - matters most when it comes to reducing hunger. For example for 500 calories you could choose between a massive bowl of salad or half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
One will fill you up a lot more than the other.
But structuring your meals in a way to minimize hunger is still a great bet.
Your primary hunger and satiety hormones are:
Leptin - the satiety hormone which signals to your brain that you’re full;
Ghrelin - a hunger-inducing peptide hormone.
Ghrelin is usually produced when your stomach is empty. You’ll know all about the hunger in your stomach if you’ve gone a long time without a meal - that’s ghrelin doing the 'talking'.
Eating a meal reduces ghrelin, so you’re not as hungry anymore.
Leptin is the opposite - it tells us we’re full when we’ve finished a meal.
One great strategy to minimize hunger whilst dieting is to opt for larger, less frequent meals, rather than opting for smaller, more frequent meals.
Having really small meals might not provide enough of a response to reduce your ghrelin - the hunger hormone - and increase your leptin - the satiety hormone.
Whereas opting for larger meals might be more likely to ensure that you’ll actually be satisfied afterwards rather than having a whole bunch of small meals & constantly being hungry.
But... Won’t having 2-4 larger meals mean you’ll be hungry in-between meals?
At the start - maybe it will, maybe it won't. It might if you’re a chronic snacker or grazer.
But in reality, it's unlikely, because you'll be eating bigger, more satisfying meals that actually fill you up.
So to summarise - when you eat does not matter nearly as much as how much you eat.
Calories are king
There are no magical benefits to fasting or eating 6 small meals for your metabolism or for fat loss.
But - by creating your own eating schedule - and sticking to it - you can manipulate your own internal body clock & tell your body when to be hungry & how to be full.
So now all you need is some help creating the plan.
My team & I were looking for FIVE people who wanted to lose 10-25lbs in 90 days without having to give up the parts of life they love the most - at the beginning of May.
Right now, we only have TWO spots left.
If you'd like a money-back guarantee to help you with losing body fat AND keeping it off, WITHOUT having to do cardio or giving up your favourite foods, beers & wines - then this is your chance to lock down one of those two spots.
Shoot me a return email saying I WANT IN, and I'll get you all of the details, to see if you're a fit for our program, and if we're a fit for you.
What do you have to lose?
Apart from a little body fat, of course.