Three Meals a Day

Discussion in 'Diet and Nutrition' started by Adam R Mundorf, May 31, 2019.

  1. Adam R Mundorf

    Adam R Mundorf More than 500 posts

    Hey Everybody,

    I was reading convict conditioning 2 earlier today and in that book Paul Wade recommends a basic three meals a day balanced meal approach.

    Is there some wisdom to just eating three balanced meals a day? Maybe even a snack here and there?

    Is the stress of overthinking nutrition more harmful than helpful? Should nutrition be thought about as much as exercise?

    Thank you, Adam
    Last edited: May 31, 2019
  2. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

  3. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts


    Not unless you have bona fide metabolic or digestive issues.

    Keep track of your macros and eat the bulk of your food as whole foods and leave the paperwork and flowcharts to your strength training or not at all.

    Three basic meals with between meal snacks or not, is fine. Really, nutrition is a cumulative process, micro managing timing etc just isn't supported in the literature and doesn't make any sense from an evolutionary perspective.
  4. offwidth

    offwidth More than 5000 posts

    Or perhaps if you are a world class performance based athlete....
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  5. Snowman

    Snowman Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I think there can be. If the goal is muscle building, for example, one could justify doing 3-5 servings of protein, spread throughout the day. How much better that is than just 2 or 3 big meals isn't really clear, though. Obviously, there's quite a few folks here who have done very well with a restricted feeding window, and many who have done well eating frequently. Paul Wade's "angle" is the whole convict thing, in which case you get to eat 3 times a day. His recommendation might have something to do that. I think @Steve Freides reply is a good one.

    There's nothing wrong with mental exercises, and everybody needs a hobby ROFL. if you're stressing out about food, though, it's probably best to let someone else think about it for you. Plenty of good diet programs out there, so no need to think things through too hard yourself. Just pick a set of rules, follow them for a month, then see if you're closer to achieving your goals or not.

    I think anything will require a lot of thought when you're either just beginning or making a big change. I don't spend much time thinking about either diet or training right now (compared to times in the past), because what I've been doing is working well. I probably spend more time thinking about other people's diet and training than my own. I do make adjustments to both of those, but they are small, and don't require much mental effort. If I'm on month 14 of S&S, and it's still working, it doesn't take much brain power to keep chugging along. If I want to hit a specific total on my next PL meet, that's going to take some thought. Same for diet.
  6. Marc

    Marc Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with 3 square meals/day. Rather only 1 snack (maybe in the form of some post-training snack), so you don't exceed 4 meals/day.
    Intermittend fasting gets a lot of hype (and I follow it myself) despite the lack of strong scientific data to bolster its claims.
    The fanciest I suggest you go with nutrition is to monitor makros (and therefore calories) and make sure you get adequate amounts of micronutrients (over the course of some days) and fibre. That way you will be eating healthy by default.
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  7. More than 500 posts

    Three Meals A Day

    There are some good reasons for taking this approach...

    1) Multiple Meals/Snack A Day: Consuming 6 meals/snack a day (every three hours) has used by Bodybuilder for a long time.

    Their believe was that it increase your Metabolic Rate, which it does not.

    Also, they also believed that it kept you in an anabolic/muscle building state, which isn't exactly correct.

    Refractory Period

    Dr Layne Norton's research determined that consuming a high protein meal every 4 - 6 hours was the most effective for Muscle Protein Synthesis.

    Consuming a high protein meal every three hours was not as effective.

    The Sponge Example

    When it comes to Muscle Protein Synthesis, the body operates similar to a sponge.

    When the sponge is dry, it absorb more.

    When the sponge is still fairly soaked with water, it absorbs less, a lot less.

    The same occur when you consume protein every three hours; the "Muscle Protein Synthesis Sponge" absorbs less.

    When the "Muscle Protein Synthesis Sponge" is dry or drier, it absorbs and utilized it more effectively.

    Gaming The System

    Based on Norton's research, one way of increasing Muscle Protein Synthesis between meals is to take Leucine or Branch Chain Amino Acids around an hour an a half after one meal and an hour an a half before the following meal.

    It appears that Leucine and/or Branch Chain Amino Acids can provide a slight spike in Muscle Protein Synthesis, due to a quick entry and exit.

    mTOR (Mammalian Target of Rapamycin)

    mTor is an anabolic, muscle building trigger. The amount needed to turn on mTOR is age dependent.

    Around 2.5 gram of Leucine for younger individual and approximately over 3.0 plus gram of older individual.

    For younger individual a meal of 30 grams plus of quality protein is effective. For older individual closer to 40 gram of quality protein is required.

    Multiple Meals Do Not Increase Your Metabolic Rate

    Research by Dr John Berardi determined that multiple meals do not increase your Metabolic Rate.

    Ironically, multiple meals keep insulin levels elevated; increasing fat storage and blocking fat burning. Elevated insulin levels also contribute to diabetes, cardiovascular issues, etc.

    Consuming three meals a day lowered insulin and increase glucagon. Part of glucagon's job is to utilize body fat for fuel, increase fat burning.

    Gaining Weight

    The primary key to gaining weight is to determine your caloric intake that is maintaining your present weight, then increase your caloric intake 20% (Dr Norton and Ivy independently determined this method was more effective at increasing muscle mass while minimizing fat mass gain).

    That doesn't necessarily mean consuming more meals per day.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
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  8. Dekapon

    Dekapon Triple-Digit Post Count

    Having many friends and acquaintances with eating disorders and having a bit of a problem with food myself eating three meals a day is good advice. You learn to eat at certain times and have a "normal" relationship with food. No starving yourself and then eating constantly in front of the tv... Or just skipping breakfast and then overeating at dinner, gaining weight, feeling sad about it and then starting to skip breakfast and lunch in an downward spiral...

    From what I've heard eating disorders are fairly common in bodybuilding and with athletes, just not spoken about that often. So learning to eat proper, "normal" at the same times every day is a good lifelong habit to have.
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  9. Marc

    Marc Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    As I already mentioned:
    Intermittend fasting gets all the hype right now without too much justification behind it.
    Speaking from a personal standpoint, I like it because it fits my schedule and right now that I am trying to lose some fat it comes in handy aswell because I get to eat two relatively big, satisfying meals in the evening.
    But 3 meals/day is really a good approach for several reasons:
    1. Some people just love breakfast and there is no reason not to have it as long as it fits into your whole nutritional picture.
    2. It gives you a structure and keeps you from goint too hungry between meals while still not having you eat too often.
    3. When muscle gain is the primary goal having 3-4 servings of protein is most def superior to just 1 or 2.
    And having 3-4 meals/day won't hinder fat loss either when the whole nutritional context is geared towards fat loss.
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  10. Marc

    Marc Quadruple-Digit Post Count

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  11. krg

    krg Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    It certainly can be. Just see how difficult it is for people to accurately record calories is over the long term.

    Depends on your goals, but if you are going to do anything 3x a day then you should probably be doing it with thought and intent.

    You can look around any city street and see the consequences of not thinking enough about nutrition.
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  12. Neuro-Bob

    Neuro-Bob More than 2500 posts

    Good perspective
  13. wespom9

    wespom9 More than 500 posts Certified Instructor

    I think there is great wisdom in 3 square meals a day. Personal opinion incoming, but it amazes me how many times I hear well-meaning people/organizations recommend 1-2 snacks in addition to 3 meals for weight loss. How can adding more food be a good thing? To me, 4-6 small meals is torture. Always hungry, never satiated. Honestly no wonder it sucks for weight loss. Pretty hard to not eat when you're constantly hungry.

    Interesting to me - many European countries do this, but I'll speak specific to Italy as my personal experience with extended time with locals has been there - is that they barely eat breakfast (maybe a biscotti with coffee or espresso), one meal with family around 2, one meal with family around 8.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2019
  14. Neuro-Bob

    Neuro-Bob More than 2500 posts

    If a meal is too small, it only serves to remind you that you’re hungry. I feel the same exact way about 4-6 small meals advice. I’m sure it works for other people though.
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  15. More than 500 posts

    Lack of Knowledge

    The recommendation of between meal snacks continues to exist and be perpetuated due to a lack of knowledge.

    The majority of an individual's education on this and other topics comes from something someone told them in the gym, a brief online comment or a sentence uttered on the news.

    "No one ever got dumbber from reading..."

    The majority of individual are not willing to invest some time in education themselves on any topic.

    Ignorance for individual like this is a choice.

    Protein: Are We On Track and On Time?

    Dr Donald Layman's presentation on protein, provides some of the information that I posted.

    Layman address' the fact that most individual only have one "Anabolic Meal" (my term) per day, rather than three.

    It is hard to maintain muscle mass, let alone increase it with only one "Anabolic Meal" a day. It takes two or three meals to maintain and possibly increase muscle mass.

    That because the majority, as you noted, "...barely eat breakfast", don't consume enough protein, nor do that consume enough protein for lunch.

    Pulse Feeding

    Older individual lose muscle mass each year. One of the reason is the majority of individual are not consuming enough protein to maintain muscle mass.

    Research has demonstrated that Pulse Feeding with older individual ensure they maintain and possibly are able to increase muscle mass.

    Pulse Feeding is a meal with high protein/Leucine intake.

    l meals advice. I’m sure it works for other people though.[/QUOTE]

    4 - 6 Small Meals Don't Work Well

    The foundation of this mentality is based on antiquated information that continues to be perpetuated.

    For individual who want to gain weight, consuming more calorie via more meals works; providing the diet plan is well written and executed.

    The main factors for increasing muscle mass/weight with a diet is...

    1) Refractory Feeding Periods

    This means spacing higher protein meals out between 4 - 6 hours rather than 3 hours. The 4 - 6 hour meals ensure greater Muscle Protein Synthesis.

    That means had a meal every 4 hours to increase your caloric intake and promotes Muscle Protein Synthesis, meals need to be at let's say: 6 am, 10 am, 2 pm and 6 pm.

    2) Between Meals. It appears (meaning it is an educated guess) that taking Leucine about an hour and a half after one meal and an hour and a half before the next meal may promote Muscle Protein Synthesis, via mTOR.

    3) 4 - 6 Small Meals/Snacks do not increase your metabolism. They ensure high insulin levels, which shut down body fat being burned for fuel and promotes body fat storage.

    "It works for some people..."

    Absolutely but not in the way you want...

    Researcher And Couch Potatoes

    Researcher increased the calorie intake of sedentary individual.

    They found the increase in calories for non-active individual increase muscle mass and body weight.

    Does life get much better? You get to watch TV, eat junk food and adding muscle mass.

    Unfortunately, the increase in body weight produced a 20% gain in muscle mass and 80% gain in body fat; the 80/20 Rule.

    That mean if they put on 10 lbs, 8 pounds was fat and 2 pound was muscle.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
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  16. Neuro-Bob

    Neuro-Bob More than 2500 posts you know far more about the science and research behind this stuff than I’d ever delve in to. I like reading your informative posts.

    My comment on 4-6 meals was with bodybuilders in mind. I recently worked with a woman who had a career as a world class sprinter and now is a professional bodybuilder and trainer. She is very successful at it, and eats 7 times per day. They aren’t huge meals, but definitely geared towards what the standard bodybuilder diet looks like.

    I know there’s a lot of science since the era of Arnold and so on....but you have to admit, current research or not, that the several meals per day method works in that context. To quote Star Wars “it’s an old code, but it will do.”

    Perhaps it is akin to the pulse feeding method you mentioned for geriatric people?
  17. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    When I'm trying to gain I eat the basic three but add snacks about every two hours. These are not high protein though usually have an OK macro ratio such as small serving of trail mix. Others might be a Greek yogurt, serving of fruit.

    In my case I simply cannot bring myself to eat the calories I need to put on weight if I only eat three meals a day. I don't feel good after stuffing myself, but I have no problem with a bit of food every couple of hours.

    When not trying to gain weight I default back to three meals and one midmorning snack around 9:30, eating breakfast at 5AM.
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  18. More than 500 posts

    Multiple Meals A Day

    The reason she consumes 7 meals a day is because she was trained to believe that is what you need to do. I am a former member of the 6 meals/snacks a day club for the same reason.

    As with most things that you are brainwashed in to believing, it is hard to change. You have to deprogram yourself from information like that and then reprogram yourself with the new information.

    As a side note, Brainwashing isn't completely bad. We learn our ABCs and Multiplication Tables that way. The key to learning is repetition.

    I constantly reread research and repeated watch the same podcast on research topics. I do that for two reasons...

    1) To program the new information into my head, repetition.

    2) Because, I miss vital information the first time I read it or hear it.

    The Crescent Wrench-Hammer Analogy

    Having multiple feeding a day works to an extent. And so does driving a nail with a crescent wrench instead of a hammer, which I have done.

    While the crescent wrench works, it not the most effective tool for the job. Essentially, she and other who maintain multiple feeds a day are using the crescent wrench.

    Dr Layne Norton's Refractory Period Research

    Norton has his pro Natural Bodybuilding card and a nationally rank Powerlifter. Norton followed the multiple feeding protocol, prior to his research. Norton's diet training approach has now shifted to Refractory Feeding Periods.

    Bodybuilding Cutting

    Decreasing body fat/body weight is about cutting calories below maintenance.

    However, there are some guideline for losing weight/body fat or gaining weight/increasing muscle mass that need to implemented that we have been previously discussed on this site.

    "Believe Nothing You Hear, and Only One Half That You See"

    Don't believe me or anyone else. Fact check topic and come to your own conclusions.

    Kenny Croxdale

    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
  19. Neuro-Bob

    Neuro-Bob More than 2500 posts

    The Russian author Nabokov has a saying “reading is re-reading.”
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  20. LightningFast

    LightningFast Double-Digit Post Count

    I would say yes, and it depends on the goals. If you want to be reasonably strong and fit neither exercise nor diet is a big deal. However, moving towards more refined goals requires more planning in both departments. If you want to get to very low bodyfat levels the diet and exercise need to be fine-tuned. The same if you want to gain mass without getting too fat. Etc., depending on what you're trying to achieve.

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