Friday, March 27, 2009

Does eating frequent meals increase metabolism?

A lot of diet and nutrition experts recommend eating several smaller meals per day rather than eating the typical 3 square meals per day. The thinking behind this is that frequent feedings will help speed up the metabolism and burn more calories from the energy used to digest the food.

But does this really work in the real world?

There was a study done by Drs. M A Taylor and J S Garrow from King's College London UK (Int. J. Obesity 25: 519-528, 2001) that measured the energy expenditure from eating 6 meals per day vs. 2 meals per day. The test subjects ate the same number of total calories, but the first group ate that food in 6 small meals and the second group ate the same amount of food in 2 big meals.

The results of the study showed that there was No Difference in the energy expenditure from eating 6 meals per day or 2 meals per day. This goes to show that the key to losing weight (or gaining it) is the total caloric intake and not the meal frequency.

Now with that being said there is still some benefits to dividing up your food intake up over the course of the day because it is easier to digest and generally more comfortable on the stomach to eat lighter more frequent meals.

However, when it comes to sticking with a serious fat loss diet, one trick that I've used personally and have shared with several of my personal coaching students with great results, is once you are following a structured fat loss eating plan and you want to further reduce your caloric intake to create an even greater caloric deficit. Rather then cutting back on your portion sizes and eating smaller meals to the point where you have to eat a few bites of food and then leave the table hungry. Keep the meal size the same and just eat fewer meals.

When I start a pre-contest fat loss diet I'll begin with 6 meals per day, then cut back to 5 meals, then 4 meals, and for the last few weeks before a show I'll even drop down to just 3 meals per day. The meal size stays consistent and this allows me to leave the table comfortably full, but I'm creating a caloric deficit simply by eating fewer meals and less food over the course of the day.

This is one of the tricks I used to shed over 40 pounds of ugly bodyfat and get contest ripped in just the matter of months as you can see in the pics below:

If you'd like to get more advanced fat loss diet strategies then you should pick up a copy of my new book "Your First Bodybuilding Competition" this is a complete fat loss training guide that is designed to help bodybuilders and figure competitors get super lean and ripped in record time.

Check it out for yourself at:


  1. francisco Molina P.March 29, 2009 at 1:39 PM

    although it may be true in this study but if you check out all the other studies i've read, shows that guys with a regular meal pattern and even a higher protein approach in their diets were associated with loweer body fat % and weight maintenance.

    International Journal of Obesity (2004) 28, 653–660. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802616 Published online 16 March 2004

    Decreased thermic effect of food after an irregular compared with a regular meal pattern in healthy lean women

    International Journal of Obesity (2007) 31, 675–684. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803456; published online 5 September 2006

    Eating patterns and dietary composition in relation to BMI in younger and older adults

    Conclusions: While no one eating occasion contributes more than any other to excess adiposity, eating more often than three times a day may play a role in overweight and obesity in both younger and older persons. A reduced satiety response to dietary fiber in addition to lower energy expenditure may potentially further contribute to weight gain in older persons.

    Eating frequency and body fatness in middle-aged men

    J B Ruidavets1, V Bongard1, V Bataille1, P Gourdy2 and J Ferrières1

    CONCLUSION: These results suggest that for an isoenergetic intake the increase of eating frequency is associated with lower body fatness.

    International Journal of Obesity (2002) 26, 1476-1483. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802143

  2. What's up Lee!
    O.K.... I'm not going to get into what this study said, and what that study said, and what he said, she said, and all the rest of the GA! GA! out there, but what I will say is I eat 6 meals a day which consist of 3 solid meals and 3 low calorie protein drinks, but I don't do this to speed up my metabolism. I do this to stay anabolic thru out the day, and for proper digestion of my muscle building nutrients. As far as I'm concern, I don't depend on frequency of meals to keep my metabolism up. A proper cardio / aerobics & weight traing program is all I really need. 45 min cardio/aerobics 3 - 5 times a week mainly on days I do leg work. Weight training 1 hour split routine sessions 6 times a week. This is what keeps my metabolism in high gear! I'm not saying that more frequent smaller meals work or dose not work. What works for one person might not work for another. That's why there's no point in taking sides on this issue. I don't take sides. I just listen and learn, and decide for myself what might or might not work for me. Nuf said! You look great Lee! Looking forward to seeing you on your talk show April 2. Later!
    Robert Valdes