Metabolic Myth – Meal Frequency is Misconstrued


Muscle Food

One of the biggest gym myths perpetuated by food coach gurus is eat more often.

This almost zealot like dogma is championed wholeheartedly by those “in the know” without understanding how human metabolism works in healthy individuals.

The plain fact is metabolic rate is governed by muscle mass. It is hard to find scientific literature opposing this.

So, that being the case why do “heath experts” advocate the stereotypical 6 meals per day regime?

Things to consider:

If dieting is a numbers game (calories in versus calories out), meal frequency will have no effect on weight loss or gain. You eat more food to gain, less food to lose, simple! Whether there is 3000 calories consumed over 6 meals or 1 is irrelevant.

If eating 6 meals per day increases metabolism, then why not eat 12 meals per day?  Meal frequency is born out of the need for big male body builders and strength athletes who realised decades ago that getting freakishly huge required more than 3 squares a day!  Try eating 7000 calories in one sitting. Christmas dinner anyone?  Yes it’s possible, but more than likely most would be in a food coma for several hours. This is not ideal if you need to function i.e.  train, work, etc.


Why do more muscular individuals generally have a higher metabolism?

Muscle is metabolically demanding of energy stores.  The more muscle mass an individual carries, the more food that is required to fuel it.  This applies whether the individual is exercising or sedentary (sleeping or watching TV).  This being the case, fat loss is easier to achieve if muscularity is optimal. Combine increased muscle mass with a balanced fat loss regime and results can be dramatic.  Now before the naysayers impart their edict of “I don’t want to get to muscular”.  Don’t worry, believe me, you won’t! Dedication to training 5-10 times per week for decades is required to be placed in the “You’re a Freak” category; so stop the delusions of ‘grandeur’!

Bottom line for most males putting on 1kg of muscle per month is a tuff gig.  For females maybe a quarter of that.  So forget this wild idea that some how you’re going to be in contention for the next Mr. O Competition and start lifting 3-4 times per week.


So the end game is this.  Consume adequate protein, carbohydrate and fat with a view to obtaining your desired goal.  This can be achieved in 6 meals, 3 meals or 1 meal. Whether it is fat loss or weight gain, at both ends of the spectrum maintaining and or increasing muscle mass should be a priority.  This is best achieved through structured strength training and sensible caloric adjustments.

Last modified onTuesday, 01 September 2015 14:16
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Glen Stewart

Coaching is about unlocking performance potential; helping people learn for themselves rather than teaching them.

Skills and qualifications

  • Level 3 ASCA Strength Coach
  • Over 20 years’ experience of Sports Competition & Coaching
  • 7 years Tactical Response Operative
  • Kettlebell Coach
  • Powerlifting Prehab & Rehab Authority
  • Body Recomposition Expert
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