Fat Loss Tip #3) Proper Meal Frequency
Meal Frequency (i.e., the number of meals you eat each day) could be the most important aspect of your nutrition program. If you do this right you will build muscle, burn fat, and with a proper resistance training program, be well on your way to achieving the body of your dreams.
But first, I must burst your bubble. What you are about to read isn’t sexy, it’s not exotic, secret, or the uncovering of some super Eastern European nutrition system that led to tons of gold medals in weight lifting. I’m also not going to tout some super juice, or specific vegetable that you need to eat outrageous quantities of in order to achieve your goals.
What it is, is sound advice that works. Do this correctly, and you will be well on your way to fitness nirvana. The thing is, most people know about it, yet few actually follow through with it and put it into action.
I admit to being one of them. I’ve always been in good shape from playing sports, working out with weights and eating right. However, I was in good shape and not great shape because I did things right about 75% of the time.
I ate 6 meals a day, most of the time. I consumed enough protein in each meal, most of the time. I worked out and worked out intensely enough, most of the time.
Why is that, you might wonder. Well, I’m glad you asked. You see, it takes motivation, persistence, planning, and a little bit of sacrifice. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, it’s not. But as I’ve stated before, nothing worth achieving comes easy. Don’t get me wrong, it is simple, it’s just not easy.
But it can be pretty painless, if you have the right mind set.
So, what is it, already? Okay, okay, here you go. Eat six meals a day. No excuses, no exceptions, no nothing. Just do it. I told you it was simple. You might be ready to toss me in the trash because you already know such obvious advice.
But let me ask you this, how many consecutive days have you eaten six nutritious meals? If you are like most people, probably not many.
So if you know it’s an extremely important part of achieving your goals and building the body you want, why aren’t you doing it more often? I think one reason is that those of us in the industry have failed in hammering home the absolute importance of eating six meals a day. Sure, we say it, but if so few people are doing it, we must not be stating our case very well.
Reason number two – eating six proper, nutritious meals a day takes work. It takes a time commitment, among other sacrifices. And it’s not just the time it takes to make the meals, or the time to eat them. It also involves other aspects of your life.
For example, socializing, going shopping, playing sports on the weekends, etc. If you eat six times a day, you need to eat every 2 or 3 hours, tops. What are you going to do, sit home all day every day so you can be near your food? Of course not.
But you will need to plan ahead. This could mean shopping and then cooking most of your food once a week, putting each meal in a microwaveable container, and then carrying meals to work with you.
You may need to invest in a high quality thermos (or two or three) and make your favorite protein shakes to take with you when you are going to be out and about for a while, or bringing some protein bars with you instead.
You may also need to withstand comments from friends and family. In our culture today, most social functions center around food – thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, even labor day and memorial day are times to get together with friends for a cookout.
Sure, you may be able to eat some of the food available. Even so, you most likely will be around long enough for at least one other meal, in which you will need to be prepared with something you brought with you.
This may require turning down the food offered and whipping out a protein bar, thus dealing with the questions and comments, usually negative, that will most likely arise.
And hey, how many of us have the well meaning mother or grandmother that assures us we are too skinny, we must eat more, offers us everything in site, and just won’t take a polite no thank you for an answer?
I know, eating right may not be easy, but it is necessary if you truly want to achieve your best body, and in the shortest amount of time possible.
I’ve given my lecture on the necessity of eating six times a day. Now let’s talk about what this can actually do for you in terms of achieving your muscle building and fat burning goals.
Our genetics haven’t really changed during our existence. Initially, food was very difficult to come by and our ancestors never knew when they were going to be getting their next meal.
It was only natural that our bodies became very efficient at storing excess calories just in case they were needed at a later time in order to fend off starvation.
That was great back then. It helped keep many people alive. Now, however, when our next meal is a phone call or fast food restaurant away, it’s not so good. Especially since those calories are stored as ugly body fat. Do any of us really want to look like a bear on the verge of hibernation? I think it’s safe to say that the answer to that question is no.
This is one of the reasons for eating six meals a day. In general, there are three things that can lead our bodies to storing calories as fat. One would be to consume a very large
This alerts our body to the fact that this could very well be
our last meal for a long time to come, so we better preserve as
many calories as we can (as body fat, of course) just in case
our next meal doesn’t come for a long time.
The next reason is going too long between meals. Again, this kicks in our bodies starvation mode and it stores calories as fat because it’s not sure when it will be getting its next meal.
A third reason would be a sudden and severe restriction in daily calorie consumption. Just like going too long between meals, this kicks the starvation mode into action, causing the storage of body fat.
Now, what do most people do when they decide they need to lose weight and go on a diet? Correct, they severely restrict calories as well as going a long time between each meal.
This may work at first but eventually causes the exact opposite
result that they are looking to accomplish. Their metabolism slows down and they start storing fat, even on so few calories a day.
Add to this mix, that most people who diet don’t add weight training to their program and you have a real recipe for disaster. Without adding weight training, at least half of the weight lost will be muscle, not fat, which slows down your metabolism even more.
If you restrict your calories too severely, even if you are weight training, a good percentage of your weight lost will be muscle, as your body doesn’t have enough calories to sustain the muscle it has, let alone build new muscle.
This also goes for going too long between meals. If your body goes too long between meals, not getting the necessary calories, protein, and other nutrients, it goes into a catabolic state. In other words, it starts eating your muscle for energy. This would slow down your metabolism, leading to the storage of
more body fat. It’s a vicious cycle.
In addition, anyone who severely restricts calories and goes a long time between meals will hit upon the first reason – eating an excessively large meal, otherwise known in diet speak as binging. And most of these calories will go straight to being stored as body fat.
A study published in Metabolism (Karbowsa, J., et al.  Increase of lipogenic enzyme mRNA levels in rat white adipose tissue after multiple cycles of starvation/refeeding. 50:734-738.) looked at this very same issue using animals.
The study showed that cycles of starvation and refeeding (i.e., binging) led to an upgrade of lipogenic enzymes. These enzymes promote body fat synthesis. We possess these same lipogenic enzymes. So, if you want to lose body fat or keep off the fat you’ve lost, don’t starve yourself. If you do that, you are only going to binge, leading you to put the fat back on.
Now, how do you avoid these mistakes? You eat smaller, more frequent meals. If you eat every two or three hours, always having a prepared nutritious meal, shake or bar handy, you are much less likely to binge.
By not severely restricting calories and adding weight training, you will lose body fat, not muscle, thereby not only preventing your metabolism from slowing down, but also speeding up your metabolism due to the added muscle from the weight training.
Gregg Gillies is the founder of [http://www.buildleanmuscle.com] and the author of Get Fit Fast. He articles have appeared in Ironman Magazine and he is a regular contributor to Body Talk magazine. Check out his site on building muscle and losing fat [http://www.buildleanmuscle.com]