Meal Frequency myth: Graze like a cow or eat like it was your last

Meal frequency myth: eat every 2-3 hours

Image credits: Free Meal by BBbelly

Meal frequency myths

“Eat every 2-3 hours to stoke the metabolic fire to burn more fat”

“Eat one meal a day to be ultra ripped”

“Fast and feast is the way to go”

“Eat every other day”

“Fast till 3pm and have an 8 hour window of eating”

“Eat 2…6…8….10 meals a day”

Oh sweet merciful crap…How often have we heard something along these lines? Probably as often as someone recommends you to eat of course. Ever find yourself in a situation where you look at the clock and see you haven’t eaten anything in two hours and YOU MUST EAT ON THAT THIRD HOUR OTHERWISE YOUR MUSCLES WILL BE CATABOLIZED? You’ll scream, shout and punch anyone you have to, to eat that meal at that certain time. Nothing will get in your way!

Or how about you being offered a hot lunch date by the sexiest model you’ve seen in your goddamned life and you saying “oh sorry, I can’t eat anything till 3pm, I’m fasting” Or some other ridiculous non-sense.

meal frequency myth dinner dates

Image credits: SuperMODEL GLOBAL Contest by PamkillerGR

If you refuse to have a lunch date at a nice restaurant with this sexy minx because you are fasting or it’s not 3 hours yet. You have failed at life, and may god have mercy on your soul.

I can appreciate the dedication one has to be the best there is, but let me assure you, MEAL FREQUENCY IS A MYTH! No, you WON’T lose more fat if you ate more meals it WON’T increase your metabolism and NO if you eat like a pig and whatever you want but only ate one meal a day or ate the same amount you would eat 10 meals in one meal you’d have an advantage in fat loss. I have science to back me up here as well as anecdotal evidence. So with these seemingly “huge claims” I’m making let’s get down to business and bust the meal frequency myths!


Does eating more meals stoke the metabolic fire (meaning increase metabolism)? Will you lose more weight eating more meals than the standard 3?

Here is an excerpt from my book: 30 day paleo weight loss plan: The solution and the science to lose fat fast and live healthy long term (includes what to eat and recipes) to back up the above statement.

There’s actually science behind that eating less meals actually increases satiety, has better control of food consumption, better weight loss, BETTER METABOLIC RATE (it actually increases with less meals), and for the diabetics, much better GLYCEMIC CONTROL.

There was a study done on healthy males where one group ate three meals, while the other ate 14. At the end of the study the group that ate the three meals had increased satiety (felt fuller) but they decreased their hunger cravings throughout the day. Plus their Resting metabolic rate was increased in the three meal group vs the 14 meal group. Quoting the study: “Glucose and insulin profiles showed greater fluctuations, but a lower AUC of glucose in the LFr (low frequency) diet compared with the HFr (high frequency) diet”. This means that the glucose ratings in the 3 meal group compared with the 14 meal group was actually lower. (1)

Meal frequency myth eating 6 meals a day

This is the only way you’d get 14 meals a day…

Maybe you’re still unconvinced because it isn’t the MAGIC SIX meals a day. Maybe there’s some diminishing returns with more than six meals you’d argue. Well, let’s see how six compares to eating three when it comes to muscle loss firstly:

The group studied ate 6 meals and 3 meals a day in alternating 5 day periods (first 5 days eat 6 next 5 days eat 3) and compared things such as nitrogen retention (loss of nitrogen means muscle loss). So as most would expect, nitrogen retention would possibly be better on 6 meals a day “Because of the steady flow of nutrients one intakes” and the fat loss would be greater.

So what were the results? “Nitrogen retention was considered satisfactory in both periods, for all subjects…Meal frequency did not significantly affect weight loss, nitrogen balance, total serum lipids, or serum cholesterol.” (2)

Okay, so eating 3 meals compared to six won’t matter for muscle loss, now how about fat loss you’d argue? The magic six has to be of more benefit then?

First study we see, the group this time went on a diet where they focused on fat loss with eating 6 and 3 meals a day, this time lasting 35 days for each period. Body fat was measured at the end of each phase and guess what the results were? THERE WAS NO DIFFERENCE IN THE RATE OF FAT LOSS! (3)

Another study for the unconvinced:

The purpose of this study was to compare the effect of consuming three (3M) vs. six meals (6M) per day on 24-h fat oxidation and subjective ratings of hunger…There were no differences in 24-h energy expenditure, 24-h respiratory quotient. or 24-h fat oxidation between 3M and 6M, respectively…but hunger and “desire to eat” were greater during 6M than 3M.” (4)

MORE evidence? How about one we most commonly hear with obese people and the whole mantra of having 3 big meals and 3 snacks? Here’s one I wrote in my new book: The ketogenic diet weight loss plan and recipe cookbook: How to lose weight fast, meal plans and 50 recipes the low carbohydrate way

Sixteen obese adults (8 women and 8 men; age 34.6; BMI 37.1) completed the study. Overall, there was a 4.7 % decrease in body weight; similarly, significant decreases were noted in fat mass , lean body mass and BMI. However, there were NS (non-statistical) differences between the low- and high-MF (meal frequency) groups for adiposity indices, appetite measurements or gut peptides (peptide YY and ghrelin) either before or after the intervention. We conclude that increasing MF does not promote greater body weight loss under the conditions described in the present study.” (5).

meal frequency myth stoke the metabolic furnace

Image credits: Mucho Polo Loco 1 by planetbelly

“Got to keep the nutrients flowing and the metabolic fire up, bro. It’s okay, I’m Bulking.”

So the next time some trainer or nutritionist starts talking to you about stoking your metabolic rate like putting more logs in a fire to keep it going, feel free to dislocate their jaw. Who wants to bring frigging six meals worth of tupperware wherever they go, keep a constant look at the time worrying about the three hour mark, worrying about if your muscles are going to shrivel up? For those that do, you must have so much fun trying to sleep at night without worrying about your muscles wasting away by midnight! We got the high meal frequency out of the way but now what of the lower end of the spectrum?

Meal frequency myth fasting

This is what a “faster’s” meal will look like


Intermittent fasting is a way of life most are following now days. People attest to the fact they eat at a certain time they lose all the fat. Eating less meals means less calories, which means fat loss.

Fasting is something everyone does (unless you are the people I refer to above eating 10+ meals a day!), when they sleep! Breakfast is breakfast. It’s your FIRST meal of the day, and whenever that is, that’s breakfast. Breakfast means breaking the fast after all. TRUE fasting in the extreme sense is not drinking anything but water, and not eating anything for days on end. Will you lose weight? You bet your anus! But even someone not educated in the field of nutrition can tell you why: BECAUSE YOU ARE EATING LESS! Does this mean I’m advocating one should fast? Hell no. You want to keep your muscle and strength?

Meal frequency myth intermittent fasting

If you find yourself daydreaming that your loved one is food, then chances are you’ve fasted too long. EAT.

You train too right? Well, EAT! Intermittent fasting is a period where you eat. Nothing more nothing less. There’s hardly any benefits when it comes to weight loss.

One group ate 1 meal a day (which is one of the ways people do intermittent fasting) and another ate 9 meals a day. They both had the same caloric intake. THERE WAS NO MARKED DIFFERENCE OF WEIGHT LOSS. (6).

Two other studies show groups who ate two meals a day compared to 6 and 7 meals a day when it came to weight loss, again THERE WAS NO DIFFERENCE IN THE RATE IN WHICH THEY LOST THE WEIGHT. (7,8)

Now what about “Speeding up the metabolism”? There seems to be arguments that eating the intermittent fasting way or six meals would somehow speed it up or slow it down. The next group ate the same calories daily in either 6 or 2 meals. Did either group increase or slow down their metabolism? NOPE. “meal frequency and a period of fasting have no major impact on energy intake or expenditure” (9)

As a side note: assuming everyone who reads this blogs at least trains (after all, why would you be on a blog that’s all about fitness, nutrition and kicking ass?) it’s obvious also that eating to replace the bodies’ needs after being depleted from exercise is ideal so eating one meal a day just doesn’t jive with me, and especially if you want to be the most gigantic body-builder (it’s not my goal but I’m sure there are the few here that read this).

Now enough with science when it comes to the meal frequency myth, that has been proven by now that eating one, five, 10 meals does not offer and advantages to fat loss. What EXACTLY is the secret to fat loss?


If you want to find out about how to calculate your calories I covered that in a previous article here

How about anecdotal evidence for those of you that seem to still think eating extremely less meals or extremely more meals is the way to go? Sure thing! Again, let’s turn back time and look at some of the old time strongmen of the golden age:

saxonsThe saxon trio. More stronger, tougher, and better moustaches than any of you

The saxon trio were preforming strongmen. Arthur saxon for instance lifted up with one hand over his head a barbell more than any could bench press with two at your gym (370 LBS!). His record for a lift called the two hands anyhow still stands today. How many meals did these brothers eat? Three. They trained heavy and harder than almost anyone living today too and they rock abs all year round. No one meal a day or 6 meals a day here.

“For breakfast they ate 24 eggs and 3 pounds of smoked bacon; porridge with cream, honey, marmalade and tea with plenty of sugar. At three o’clock they had dinner: ten pounds of meat was consumed with vegetables (but not much potatoes); sweet fruits, raw or cooked, sweet cakes, salads, sweet puddings, cocoa and whipped cream and very sweet tea. Supper, after the show, they had cold meat, smoked fish, much butter, cheese and beer. Following this they had a chat and at one o’clock went to bed.”


Hermann Goerner owner of a 727 ONE ARM DEADLIFT and owner of the hitler moustache.

Hermann Goerner ate the standard breakfast lunch and dinner too. Even drank beer after he trained since his gym was attached to a pub. What was his diet advice? According to the book Goerner the Mighty, by Edgar Mueller:

Gorner is firmly convinced that a mixed diet is the best for a strong man, with emphasis laid on eating good meals with the accent on meat! He is particularly partial to pork and beef and also wurst–German sausagemeat. Vegetables also, together with potatoes, but not overdoing the latter. He is very fond of nuts–particularly walnuts–and all fruits: apples especially, which he thinks every strong man should eat, as well as oranges and other citrous fruits. Cheese and eggs also figure in his diet, but he does not care for rich pastries nor does he drink milk in any quantity.

He was a simple guy! This diet is pretty much almost a paleo diet!

Many more old-time strongmen ate the standard 3 meals a day, and some ate breakfast and dinner. They ATE WHEN HUNGRY AND DRANK WHEN THIRSTY. Never over-eating, and only having the best of foods to nourish them.

So what did we learn today when it comes to meal frequency myth? At the end of the day when you want to lose fat the only thing you have to concern about is the QUANTITY AND QUALITY IN WHICH YOU EAT. If you eat less and train, eat good food, you’ll lose fat, whether it be 1, 5, 10 meals. If you eat crap and eat enough for the hulk, captain planet, and galactus combined in 1, 5, or 10 meals, you’ll get fat.

Final advice:

I advocate eating 2-3 meals when it comes to fat loss and no more no less. The reason is simple. You won’t be hungry, you’ll be satisfied with your meals since they are bigger than just eating rabbit food every 3 hours AND you have a VARIETY of foods, meaning you can have more nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Of course though, it’s up to you and your lifestyle and preference. If you prefer to eat more meals or less, go ahead, but just remember that it’s a simple math equation of burning of calories that counts.




1)Munsters, M.J.M., Saris, W.H.M. (2012). Effects of meal frequency on metabolic profiles and substrate partitioning in lean healthy males. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038632

2) Finkelstein, B., Fryer, B.A. (1971). Meal frequency and weight reduction of young women. The American Society for Clinical Nutrition

3) Young, C.M., Scanlan, S.S., Topping, C.M., Simko, V., Lutwak, L. (1971). Frequency of feeding, weight reduction, and body composition. J AM Diet Assoc. Nov;59(5):466-72.

4) Ohkawara, K., Cornier, M.A., Kohrt, W.M., Melanson, E.L. (2013). Effects of increased meal frequency on fat oxidation and perceived hunger. Obesity (Silver Spring). Feb;21(2):336-43. doi: 10.1002/oby.20032.

5) Cameron, J.D., Cyr, M.J., Doucet, E. (2010). Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet. Br J Nutr. Apr;103(8):1098-101. doi: 10.1017/S0007114509992984. Epub 2009 Nov 30.

6)Bortz WM, Wroldsen A, Issekutz B Jr, Rodahl K (1966). Weight loss and frequency of feeding. N Engl J Med.

7) Dallosso, H.M., Murgatroyd, P.R., James, W.P. (1982). Feeding frequency and energy balance in adult males. Hum Nutr Clin Nutr. 36C(1):25-39.
8) Verboeket-van de Venne WP., Westerterp, K.R. (1991). Influence of the feeding frequency on nutrient utilization in man: Consequences for energy metabolism. Eur J Clin Nutr. Mar;45(3):161-9.
9) Taylor, M.A., Garrow, J.S. (2001). Compared with nibbling, neither gorging nor a morning fast affect short-term energy balance in obese patients in a chamber caorimeter. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. Apr;25(4):519-28.

Ceps Weston Domingo is a personal trainer and nutritional consultant, and best selling author of the 30 day paleo weight loss plan, 30 day paleo slow cooker recipe cookbook, and The ketogenic diet weight loss plan and recipe cookbook: How to lose weight fast, meal plans and 50 recipes the low carbohydrate way


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