Muscle growth isn't just a result of building up the muscle. It's also a matter of preventing it from being broken down. When you skip meals, your body's need for amino acids doesn't stop. When you cut off the continual inflow of amino acids from protein foods, your body simply goes to a different source - your own muscle. Intentionally starving yourself to lose weight, or even innocently missing a single meal puts you in a catabolic state - you literally eat your own muscle tissue - the muscle you worked so hard in the gym to develop.
In one very interesting study reported in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise (6:5, pgs. 265-272, 1996), the effects of two versus six meals was examined. Both groups lost the same amount of weight, but the two meal group lost mostly lean body mass while the six meal per day group did not!
Your body doesn't have the ability to store proteins. Amino acids only remain in your bloodstream for about three hours after each meal. After that, you go into a state called negative nitrogen balance, a condition where you are burning up your own muscle protein. That's why it's crucial to eat a meal with protein every three hours. Eating massive amounts of protein in two or three large meals doesn't help - it must be spread out.
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