How often should you eat?

Regularity of nutrition is important both when losing weight and gaining muscle mass. Let’s figure out how many times a day there is to maintain normal health and weight control, how this relates to the daily caloric intake and what to do in case of hunger attacks.

Regularity of nutrition is important both when losing weight and gaining muscle mass. Let’s figure out how many times a day there is to maintain normal health and weight control, how this relates to the daily caloric intake and what to do in case of hunger attacks.

How important is meal frequency

If you do not eat for a long time, hypoglycemia develops: blood sugar levels drop, which is accompanied by weakness, irritability, dizziness and other symptoms. So eating regularly without fasting for many hours is an essential prerequisite for maintaining your wellbeing. At the same time, the number of meals per day does not affect the body’s metabolism. You can lose weight and gain muscle mass at any frequency of nutrition. The calorie content and composition of the diet are much more important. If your work schedule does not allow you to eat 5 times a day, this does not mean that you will not be able to control body weight.

How many times a day is there

The standard option is three to five times a day. The number of meals you eat depends on your daily routine, habits, and other factors. Fractional nutrition in small portions allows you not to overload the digestive system.

Быстрое похудение: эффективные экспресс-диеты на 3, 5 и 7 дней

When losing weight

For weight loss, as well as for maintaining health, daily caloric intake is of fundamental importance, not meal frequency. This is supported by scientific research1. By itself, the transition to fractional nutrition does not lead to weight loss. If a person is used to overeating with three meals a day, it is highly likely that he will continue to do so after switching to a five or six meals a day.

The desire to have another snack is associated with the predominance of carbohydrates with a high glycemic index in the diet: sweets, sugar, products from premium wheat flour. They quickly raise blood glucose levels, but only for a couple of hours. Then the feeling of hunger returns.

Thus, the number of meals for weight loss can be anything. The main thing is a properly composed diet with a predominance of foods that give a longlasting feeling of fullness. But it is very important to stay within the reasonable limits and not to allow reducing food intake to one or two per day: this is not enough to maintain normal health and stable functioning of the body!

When gaining muscle mass

How do Young and Teen Athletes Gain Muscle? - Cherish Nutrition

For muscle growth, you need the protein found in meats, legumes, and other foods. To get enough protein without overeating, athletes and bodybuilders eat 810 times a day. It is difficult to fit the required amount of calories into three regular meals. There is no upper limit for protein intake per meal; if there is an excess of protein, the body simply stops absorbing it. First of all, calculate the required caloric intake and, based on this, decide how many times a day to eat.

What time is best to eat

What time we eat affects our biological clock, study finds

There are different opinions about the optimal meal time. Some people think that a full hearty breakfast is a must. Other sources say there is a lack of scientific evidence that morning meals speed up metabolism. There is even a 16/8 intermittent fasting regimen. It involves the refusal of breakfast: all meals are held in the interval from 12:00 to 20:00. With this regime, the body does not receive food for 16 hours. This speeds up metabolism, which can contribute to weight loss. In any case, the diet is compiled individually, taking into account the daily regimen, the characteristics of metabolism, etc.

Calorie intake

When losing weight

The calorie intake for weight loss is calculated individually. This takes into account parameters such as age, weight, height, level of physical activity. Depending on the calorie content of the diet, 4 or 5 meals a day are offered. For each of them, on average, there should be 20-25 g of fat (30% of calories), 70-80 g of “correct” (complex) carbohydrates, 30 g of proteins.

When gaining muscle mass

For muscles to grow, you will need to consume from 1500 to 6000 kcal per day. It is difficult to fit all this into breakfast, lunch and dinner, so we start from five or six meals a day with a calorie content of up to 2000 kcal. If the energy value of the daily ration is greater, the number of meals will also increase up to 7-12 times a day. At least half of the calories from the daily value should be for breakfast and lunch. The rest is evenly distributed among the three remaining meals. However, most of the carbohydrates from the daily diet should be consumed immediately after strength training.

Diet and hunger

The causes of hunger

The inability to control hunger is the main reason why you cannot adhere to a stable diet. Due to the wrong diet, the body gets used to getting fast carbohydrates and simple calories every 2-3 hours. Therefore, people who abuse sweet, flour dishes, bakery products find it difficult to refuse snacks.

The constant desire to eat something can be due to psychological reasons. Some people find it difficult to resist overeating at a party, snacking for a company, buying and consuming food under the influence of advertising. Here the reason is the inability to distinguish physiological hunger (the body’s real need for food) from psychological one.

How to deal with hunger

Physiological hunger should not be suppressed. But if you want to eat more often than every 2-3 hours, reconsider your eating habits.

  • Drink a glass of water: hunger is easily confused with thirst.
  • Eliminate simple and include complex carbohydrates, foods high in fiber and protein.
  • Eat strictly according to the clock: the body will gradually get used to this regime.
  • Stop eating as soon as the hunger is gone.